Embassy Row: Shocking testimony about Iran sanctions

A key Republican on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations was flabbergasted after a senior U.S. diplomat claimed Thursday that sanctions against Iran are the “most effective” she had ever seen.

“I’m shocked, absolutely shocked!” said Sen. James E. Risch of Idaho.

Mr. Risch, the top Republican on the panel’s subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian affairs, noted that Iran continues to enrich uranium in its suspected pursuit of a nuclear weapon despite sanctions imposed by the U.S. and other nations.

“This is not a ‘Mission Accomplished’ moment,” he said, calling the sanctions an “abject failure.”

Anne W. Patterson, former U.S. ambassador to Egypt, tried to backtrack in the face of Mr. Risch’s reaction to her comments during a committee hearing on her nomination to serve as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. She agreed with Mr. Risch that the sanctions had not dampened Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but insisted that the measures have hurt the country’s economy.

“Causing pain in the economy is how sanctions work,” she said.

Only moments earlier in the hearing, Ms. Patterson praised the sanctions, noting that they have crippled Iran’s oil production and cut off the theocratic regime from international finances.

“This is the most effective sanctions program I have ever seen,” she said.

The committee is expected to vote on her nomination at its next meeting and send its recommendation to the full Senate.

ISRAEL’S HIDDEN AGENDA

Israel supports the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad even if a new regime includes al Qaeda terrorists, says Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, who has revealed Israel’s hidden agenda in Syria’s civil war.

Mr. Oren, who is leaving his post after more than four years, told The Jerusalem Post that Israel knows that the rebels linked to al Qaeda are “pretty bad guys,” but they also oppose Iran, Israel’s bitterest enemy.

“The initial message about the Syrian issue was that we always wanted Bashar Assad to go. We always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran,” he said in remarks that the newspaper released in advance of its Friday publication.

Officially, the Israeli government has taken no public position on the war. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu distanced his government from Mr. Oren’s comments.

Israel’s policy has not changed, and we are not intervening in internal Syrian affairs,” his office said.

Mr. Oren, who took up his position in July 2009, will be replaced by Ron Dermer, a longtime Netanyahu aide.

BAD TIMING

The new U.S. ambassador to Brazil found that timing is everything as she arrived in the capital, Brasilia, hours before President Dilma Rousseff angrily canceled an Oct. 23 state visit to Washington to protest U.S. spying on her phone calls with her aides.

Ambassador Liliana Ayalde dodged reporters’ questions about the scandal over the National Security Agency’s electronic eavesdropping, as revealed by Edward Snowden.

Brazil’s media have reported on documents Mr. Snowden released that show the NSA intercepted Ms. Rousseff’s phone calls and targeted the state oil company, Petrobras.

At Brasilia’s airport, Ms. Ayalde retreated into diplomatic cover when reporters confronted her: “This is a very important moment for our relations, full of opportunities and possibilities.”

Embassy Row is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. James Morrison can be reached at jmorrison@washingtontimes.com or @EmbassyRow.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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