They Make a Desert and Call it Peace

Gone are the days when the Rose Garden was packed with peacemakers heralding the Abraham Accords. Today, Middle Eastern leaders are flocking to the Forbidden City for the “Beijing Dialogues.”

China has brokered a resumption of diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia. It’s a coup for Beijing’s reputation in the region and a blow to American interests. The Iranian and Saudi national security advisers shook hands on either side of Wang Yi, the top Chinese diplomat, while dozens of Chinese state-owned media cameras clicked away.

While the precise details of the new agreement have yet to be unsealed, we can be sure that Iran can now devote more of its resources, time, and focus of its terror apparatus against the United States’s presence and interests in the region. That means new plots to kidnap and kill more Europeans and Americans and to plot the destruction of Israel.

It could get worse. Saudi Arabia remains the lodestar for its neighbors’ policies. The kingdom’s rapprochement with Iran will encourage even more trade and diplomatic relations between the Arab world and the Iranian regime, boosting its standing and stability as revolutionaries had shaken the Islamic Republic to its core.

The White House said they had long encouraged direct dialogue and diplomacy between Iran and Saudi Arabia to “help reduce tension.” President Joe Biden for his part appeared confused about which country made the deal, saying, “The better the relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors, the better for everybody.” Assuming he meant Iran instead of Israel, this statement is even more absurd.

The White House confuses diplomacy for peace.

Sure, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was a temporary diplomatic victory for its negotiators, but it paved the way for both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union to pick Europe apart. When United Kingdom Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned to London after negotiating the Munich Agreement with the Nazis, he proclaimed outside 10 Downing Street that he believed he had brought “peace for our times.” Those who praise Friday’s agreement follow Chamberlain’s example.

The White House is equally confused about our own interests. No, we don’t want Iran to have good relations with anyone as long as the regime advances its nuclear program, slaughters its citizens, plots to assassinate a dozen American officials and dissidents, and remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. We want to isolate Iran and turn it into a global pariah. In case the White House forgot, we have congressionally mandated sanctions on Iran to isolate the regime’s economy. So now the same diplomats praising this deal in public will have to fly to Riyadh and remind them that trading with Tehran risks U.S. sanctions.

While we should be upset with Saudi Arabia for its rapprochement with Iran, we can’t exactly blame them. The Biden administration has insulted and sought to isolate the kingdom at nearly every turn. Instead of standing with Saudi Arabia against its main regional rival, the State Department sought to shower Tehran with billions of dollars in sanctions relief.

It should come as no surprise then that Saudi Arabia would turn to Beijing after being spurned by Washington. This deal is a damning indictment of this administration’s Middle East policy of withdrawal, neglect, and derision toward our friends. But I guess that’s what happens when the “adults” are back in charge.

Gabriel Noronha is a fellow at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America and the executive director of POLARIS National Security. He previously served as the special adviser for Iran at the State Department under Secretary Pompeo.

Originally published in Washington Examiner.