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A Turning Point for Iran?

Iran has much to make up for in its relations with the rest of the world, dating back to the 1979 Islamic Revolution. But if reforms can be implemented and sustained, and if the 2015 nuclear deal can be protected from hardliners, Iran can break free of its past and become a normal member of the international community.

DENVER – US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia offered a rare glimpse into his emerging foreign-policy agenda. It is now all but certain that the Trump administration will abstain from lecturing foreign leaders about their countries’ democratic shortcomings, and that promoting human rights will take a backseat to other priorities.

Efforts to encourage democracy and respect for human rights have rarely, if ever, prevailed against $110 billion arms sales, and this will be especially true during Trump’s presidency. Whether a potential business partner adheres to international human-rights norms seems to be irrelevant to this administration.

But the real news from Trump’s trip is that he has now fully embraced the Sunni Arab world, not least for its opposition to Iran. In his speech at a gathering of Sunni Muslim leaders in Riyadh, Trump delivered a sharp and visceral rebuke of all things Iranian – including, it seems, that country’s recent elections. His remarks were music to the ears of Sunni Arab leaders, who regard Iran as the root of all evil, and the source of the Shia resurgence in Iraq.