In a weekend interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, President Barack Obama discussed the Iran nuclear deal and his dream for peace in the Middle East.
Obama said America’s “core interests” in the Middle East are protecting US allies and ensuring peace in the region.
He told Friedman:
“At this point, the U.S.’s core interests in the region are not oil, are not territorial. … Our core interests are that everybody is living in peace, that it is orderly, that our allies are not being attacked, that children are not having barrel bombs dropped on them, that massive displacements aren’t taking place. Our interests in this sense are really just making sure that the region is working. And if it’s working well, then we’ll do fine. And that’s going to be a big project, given what’s taken place, but I think this [Iran nuclear deal] is at least one place to start.”
Last week, negotiators reached a framework agreement for a nuclear deal with Iran. The finalised deal is due June 30. The deal allows Iran to keep some of its nuclear infrastructure, but the US says the accord will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon for at least a decade.
Iran is currently involved in regional conflicts across the Middle East — and by all accounts, the region is not “working.”
Iran-backed Shia militias have been attempting to drive the Islamic State terror group out of Iraq, but they have also been accused of committing atrocities against Sunni civilians.
In Yemen, Shiite Houthis supported by Iran have launched the country into a civil war between forces loyal to President Abd Rabbah Mansur Hadi, who has fled the country, and Shiites who are loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Iran is also the primary backed of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president who has gone to unspeakable means — including dropping steel barrels packed with shrapnel and explosives on civilian towns — to stay in power over a 4-year civil war.
Nevertheless, Obama believes that Iran can play a constructive role in putting the Middle East back together.
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