Obama: World must not let Iran corner Israel

Obama: World must not let Iran corner Israel

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AFP) — White House hopeful Barack Obama said Monday sanctions and diplomacy must be made to bite against Iran so that Israel does not feel its “back is against the wall” and stages an attack.


A nuclear-armed Iran would be a “game-changer for the region,” allowing the Islamic republic to meddle through extremist proxies, intervene in Iraq and threaten oil supplies, the Democrat told about 250 voters at a meeting here.


Obama underlined that Israel, “one of our strongest allies in the world,” feels hugely threatened given vows by Iran“s hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to wipe the Jewish state off the world map.


“So my job as president would be to try to make sure we are tightening the screws on Iran diplomatically … to get sanctions in place so that Iran starts making a different calculation,” the Illinois senator said.


“And we”ve got to do that before Israel feels like its back is against the wall,” added Obama, who has been courting Jewish voters suspicious of his commitment to Israel“s defense.


Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday that US President George W. Bush”s administration is at present opposed to any military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.


“Our position is that no option is to be taken off the table, but in the meantime we have to make diplomatic progress,” Barak told army radio.


Obama observed in Iowa that after visiting Israel last month, he believed “their general attitude is we will not allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon.”


Israeli leaders felt there were “no good military options” but that it was also “unacceptable” to permit Iran to gain atomic weapons.


Obama added: “The problem was that for most of the Bush administration, instead of trying to engage directly with Iran, there was a lot of saber-rattling and a lot of bellicose talk.”


But ironically, he said, the invasion of Iraq was “the single dumbest thing” the administration could have done for regional policy as it strengthened Iran“s hand and encouraged its leadership to go down the nuclear route.


Obama said his Republican opponent John McCain, who has lambasted the Democrat”s commitment to direct diplomacy with US foes, would extend Bush foreign policies and leave the United States mired in Iraq.


“I”m happy to have a debate with John McCain on foreign policy and when I”m president of the United States, I”m going to end the war in Iraq responsibly” and divert US resources to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Obama said.