Partnership or extortion? U.S. vs. Iranian models for the Middle East

Pompeo sitting at desk talking (© Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the United Nations Security Council meeting on August 20 in New York. (© Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)

Peace and security. That’s the vision of Middle East peace advanced by the U.S. and dozens of partners. Iran has a different vision, one where the mullahs in Tehran use violence to extort concessions from the international community.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made this clear during August 20 remarks to the United Nations Security Council in New York. He contrasted the collaborative, multinational approach of the “Warsaw Process” with the Iranian regime’s “campaign of extortion diplomacy.”

The Warsaw Process seeks to boost maritime security, aid refugees and secure human rights. More than 60 nations attended the first meeting in February, and nearly 80 are invited to planned October and November meetings in Korea, Bahrain, Poland and Romania.

“No one country will be the subject of these discussions,” Pompeo told the Security Council, adding that the talks will be collaborative. “All nations will be heard.”

And Iran? It’s ramped up hostage taking, violence and nuclear extortion.

In July alone, Iran’s regime breached limits on stockpiling and enriching nuclear fuel, menaced and seized tankers navigating the Strait of Hormuz, and test-fired a ballistic missile, defying a U.N. Security Council resolution and threatening its neighbors.

Meanwhile, the United States and other Warsaw Process countries used the August 20 U.N. meeting to hold talks on boosting economic opportunity, resolving humanitarian crises in Syria and Yemen, and brokering peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Those talks built on a June meeting in Bahrain, which focused on the United States’ $50 billion “Peace to Prosperity” plan for Palestinians. More recently, the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Bahrain joined a U.S. initiative to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.

“These are precisely the kinds of multilateral efforts the United States supports,” Pompeo said. “They’re meaningful, they’re effective, and they reflect the values of freedom-loving societies, which this council should be working to uphold.”

A version of this article was previously published on August 20, 2019.