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Josh Rogin and Eli Lake

Obama’s Middle East Balancing Act Tilts Toward Iran

Saudi concerns are pushed aside to make the nuclear pact work.
Getting closer.

Getting closer.

Photographer: Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images

As the cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia heats up, the Barack Obama administration is trying to straddle the fence and not take sides, but its actions tell a different story -- they all seem to favor Tehran.

Following the Saudi government’s announcement Saturday that it had executed 47 prisoners, including a popular Shiite cleric, the U.S. State Department did two things. First, it issued a statement expressing concern that Riyadh’s actions were “exacerbating sectarian tensions.” Then Secretary of State John Kerry called Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, urging him to try to de-escalate the crisis.