The media has gone through great lengths to run cover for President Obama’s legacy in the Middle East, which President Trump has taken apart, much to the chagrin of the national security establishment, who wagered their careers on Obama’s dubious realignment strategy. Dubbed the Obama Realignment Doctrine by Tony Badran of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, the crux of Obama’s approach to dealing with the growing threat of Iranian hegemony in the Middle East was essentially to empower the world’s largest state sponsor of terror to limit its appetite for proxy wars.
We are just beginning to learn of the depth of such appeasement. Photos recently surfaced indicating that one of the three “ringleaders” of the Iran-backed attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad earlier this week was invited to the Obama White House less than a decade ago. Hadi al Amiri was serving as Iraq’s minister of transport when he joined Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for his visit with President Obama in November 2011. The U.K. news site The Daily Mail has reproduced photos of the encounter here.
Even at the time of the visit, al Amiri’s presence in the White House stunned government officials. Lawmakers and FBI director Louise Freeh expressed consternation and shock that Obama would allow the Iraqi minister into the White House, even under diplomatic pretenses.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who was serving as chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee at the time of al Amiri’s White House visit, had shared with The Washington Times that it was “extremely disturbing that the White House would see fit to welcome Al-Amiri to a discussion on the future of Iraq.” The congresswoman said his visit would be better served in the form of an interrogation by the FBI and other U.S. counterterrorism organs.
Meanwhile, Freeh cited al Amiri’s involvement with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the military wing of the Iranian regime and a group designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department just last year. According to Freeh, al Amiri was embroiled in “countless acts of terrorism, which are acts of war against the United States.” Nonetheless, President Obama invited the terrorist to set foot in the White House.
Al Amiri’s infamous rap sheet also includes shipping weapons to Bashar al Assad during the Syrian civil war, in which Assad engaged in a vicious crackdown against his own people. Gen. James Mattis, former U.S. secretary of defense, told The Daily Mail that Iraqi help was instrumental in resuscitating Assad’s regime early in the war.
Currently, al Amiri is serving as head of the Badr Corps, an Iranian vassal within Iraq’s state-sanctioned Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) that, despite aiding the United States in the fight against ISIS in 2014 and 2015, has received sizeable funding, munition, and training assistance from the IRGC. The Badr Corps consist of thousands of pro-Iranian military figures and was at one point the military wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), a Shi’ite resistance group operating in opposition to the Iraq’s Sunni majority.
As of late, al Amiri has collaborated closely with the Iranian government in squashing recent protests against the corruption of the Iraqi government. Contrary to reporting at The New York Times, the Iraqi protestors of the last three months were victimized at the hands of demonstrators who breached the U.S. embassy earlier this week. But this geopolitical quandry was never fully explored by The New York Times because doing so would mean admitting that Obama had emboldened and empowered the wrong actors.
Indeed, al Amiri’s visit to the White House – and later apparent attack on the U.S. embassy – underscores precisely the abysmal failure of the Obama administration’s approach vis-à-vis Iran. As Seth Frantzman at the Jerusalem Post noted, Iraqi PM al Maliki was regarded as “Iraq’s hope for the future,” but instead, “his rule led to the rise of ISIS and the collapse of Iraq.”
Similarly, al Amiri was entertained by the Obama administration despite the concerns of U.S. officials and unsurprisingly, is now expected to be the linchpin in converting the PMU to the Iraqi rendition of IRGC. It’s hard to overstate how categorically miscalculated, grossly naive, and ultimately nefarious the Obama realignment truly was.
Right now, the media, along with the remnants of the Iran deal echo chamber, are doing their best to minimize discussion of Obama’s appeasement of Tehran, squirming stupidly at the sight of the very actors Obama propped up storming the U.S. embassy less than a decade later. Despite artful messaging, the Iran deal was never anything more than American acceptance of the Iranian “Islamic Revolution” – made possible by a wholesale pivot away from the United States’s Sunni allies and Israel – in exchange for superficial and ineffective limitations on Iran’s nuclear development.
As revealed by the recent attack on the U.S. embassy, the era of Iranian appeasement, rebranded as “power balancing,” is over.