Daily Briefing: Are Israel and Iran Headed for War? (October 31,2019)

Meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
Following the meeting with the leaders of Iran and Turkey, Vladimir Putin held a separate bilateral meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. (Source: Wikipedia)

Table Of Contents:

Iran Prepares For War With Israel: Yossef Bodansky, Oil Price.com, Oct. 21, 2019

Why No Deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran Will Ever Last:  Irina Tsukerman, BESA, Oct. 24, 2019

U.N. Atomic Agency Picks New Leader Who Seeks to Strictly Monitor Iran: Lawrence Norman, WSJ, Oct. 29, 2019

The EU’s Need to Acknowledge Iran’s Nefarious Conduct: Giulio Terzi, RealClear Defense, Oct. 25, 2019


Iran Prepares For War With Israel
Yossef Bodansky
Oil Price.com, Oct. 21, 2019

Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke on October 10, 2019, at the memorial for the fatalities of the October 1973 War, and focused on the rising Iranian threats to Israel. He strongly hinted at the possibility of both an Israeli preemptive military strike against Iran and the specter of a major protracted regional war.

He noted: “The current focus of aggression in the Middle East is the Iranian regime in Tehran. Iran is striving to tighten its grip on Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and the Gaza Strip. It is constantly arming its metastases with dangerous weapons and is attacking freedom of navigation in international shipping routes. It downed a big US UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle], it launched a crude and unprecedented attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil fields, it repeatedly exceeds its own arrogance. … Iran threatens to wipe us off the map. It says explicitly: ‘Israel will disappear’. Time and time again, it tries to attack us, so we must stand ready to protect ourselves from the danger.”

Whenever Israel is challenged and its security is threatened, Netanyahu asserted, “we always remember and apply the basic rule that guides us: Israel will defend itself, on its own, in the face of every threat. The IDF [Israel Defense Force] is prepared to preempt any threat, defensively and offensively, with its overwhelming power in weaponry and in spirit.”

This was not the first time in recent days that Netanyahu had raised the specter of a war with Iran, including the prospect of Israeli preemption.
Two weeks before, on September 26, 2019, Netanyahu spoke during the New Year’s toast at the IDF General Staff forum. He warned the IDF High Command of gathering clouds and rising security challenges. “Israel’s proven capacity to simultaneously perform multiple missions is about to be challenged as never before,” he observed. “Hitherto we have navigated affairs boldly and responsibly in several arenas, at times simultaneously, but not so far in a comprehensive confrontation.”

This might change soon, Netanyahu warned, raising the specter of an all-out war as a distinct possibility. Such a war might erupt despite the great success of the myriad of strikes against Iran and Iran’s proxies throughout the region.
The difference in emphasis on Israel’s determination to act alone, audaciously and proactively, stems from two major developments. Official Jerusalem did not conceal its disappointment from the US about the US military abandonment of Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, coming on the heels of the US inaction in the Persian Gulf. Israel now has to face the possibility of being left alone to confront a rising and assertive Iran.

A tweet by Israeli Special Forces reserve officer and former Security Cabinet member Naftali Bennett eloquently summed up the Israeli quandary: “Israel will ALWAYS defend itself by itself. The Jewish State will never put its fate in the hands of others, including our great friend, the USA.”

Unmentioned by Netanyahu and others in public were the most recent changes in Iranian doctrine and regional strategy which saw unprecedented emphasis being put on the destruction of Israel by both Iran and its myriad of proxies. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

Why No Deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran Will Ever Last
Irina Tsukerman
BESA, Oct. 24, 2019

Iran has decided to send 7,500 troops to Iraq, supposedly to provide protection for Shiite pilgrims. But once they are there, there will be little accounting of the extent to which those special forces units will partake in the ransacking of anti-Iran media offices or the targeted sniper shootings of Shiite protesters, who are on the streets demanding that Iran withdraw from Iraq. With 130 protesters reported dead and over 6,000 wounded, the US-backed Al Hurra publication suspended for three months for exposing corruption, and Al Arabiya and multiple other foreign and domestic news agencies ransacked and silenced, Iraq is facing a crisis over increasing Iranian involvement that has been developing ever since the election of the new government a year ago.

The US embassy has been largely silent over concerns that further pressure on the government will “lose Iraq.” The Iraqi government claimed not to have authorized the killings of the protesters and said it did not know who was responsible, and Iranian passports were reported found in the areas of the protests and attacks. Journalists in the ransacked offices reported seeing Iranian officers in uniform in addition to masked gunmen who were likely from the Iran-backed PMUs, which were supposedly integrated into the Iraqi army under orders from Baghdad several months prior to these events.

As Baghdad seeks to distance itself from any responsibility for the ongoing crisis, Iraq appears to be lost to US influence – unless, of course, Washington chooses to see the mostly young Iraqis leading the uprisings and calling for the downfall of the government, which they describe as “radical” and a “puppet of the ayatollahs,” as its natural allies against Iranian hegemony rather than ineffectual, paralyzed, pro-Tehran Baghdad.
Washington’s silence raises the question of just what alliance the US is trying to preserve – perhaps a seemingly inevitable rapprochement with Tehran? The non-reaction conforms to a broader pattern of intelligence failure and belated response that has plagued US foreign policy ever since the “Arab Spring.” However, the failure to predict events and develop plans to cope with them was not due solely to lack of information. Maher Gabra, one of the participants in the early stages of the protests in Tahrir Square in Egypt, described warning the US State Department about a high likelihood of mass protests breaking out following the preceding events in Tunisia – only to have his warnings dismissed.

At the beginning of the uprisings, the US did not know how to react and ultimately sided with the Islamist contingent, eventually coming to back Muhammad Morsi. This pattern repeated itself in Benghazi: following the abandonment of Libya’s Qaddafi, the US seemed to grasp at straws to provide explanations for the outbreak of violence that cost the US ambassador and three others their lives in September 2012.  A debunked theory of an incendiary video was used to explain the Americans’ abject failure to interpret readily available information and predict a likely chain of events. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

U.N. Atomic Agency Picks New Leader Who Seeks to Strictly Monitor Iran
Lawrence Norman
WSJ, Oct. 29, 2019

The United Nations’ atomic agency’s board picked a new leader Tuesday with strong U.S. backing who has pledged to shake up the body and strictly monitor Iran’s nuclear activities. Argentine diplomat Rafael Grossi, 58 years old, is likely to be formally elected when he receives the backing of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s full membership, which is expected in the next few weeks.

Mr. Grossi, who was a senior IAEA official before becoming Argentina’s ambassador to U.N. institutions in Vienna, has signaled a stricter line on Tehran, whose behavior has become increasingly problematic for the body charged with overseeing nuclear activities world-wide.

Tehran has promised new measures in early November to move away from the limits of the 2015 international deal that placed strict but temporary caps on its nuclear efforts. Western diplomats fear these will be Iran’s most significant breaches yet.

The IAEA is also investigating allegations that Iran held radioactive material at a secret site in Turquz Abad in Tehran. Iran insists its nuclear work has always been for civilian purposes. “I am prepared to continue [with] what is OK, but continuity is not my program,” Mr. Grossi told The Wall Street Journal in September on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. “We need to adjust. We need to evolve.”
Mr. Grossi said the IAEA had become overly identified with the Iran nuclear accord, known as the JCPOA, which he described as “under stress.”
The Trump administration wants to replace the deal, from which the U.S. withdrew in 2018, with a broader and stricter accord that would also focus on Iran’s missile program and regional behavior. “The agency…should not be part of the political discussion,” Mr. Grossi said. “So I think it would be a mistake to identify the agency with the JCPOA or any other political agreement.”

“We must be firm but fair” in monitoring Iran’s activities, he added.

There was no immediate comment from the U.S. or from Iran on Mr. Grossi’s selection. Diplomats said Washington was leading a campaign behind the scenes to pick the Argentine. The IAEA expects Mr. Grossi to begin his four-year term by Jan. 1.
In the third round of voting in an unusually competitive race, he won 24-10 against Cornel Feruta, the Romanian who was the IAEA’s acting director general after the death in July of its former chief, Yukiya Amano. Mr. Amano had run the agency for a decade.

Mr. Grossi served as Mr. Amano’s chief of cabinet from 2010-13 and spent several years as a senior official at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. He has recently led an international review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which aims to stem the spread of nuclear weapons.

Critics of the IAEA say Mr. Amano’s team was insufficiently aggressive in investigating Iran’s nuclear efforts. They want the agency to visit sites and interview people mentioned in archived documents to learn if they are still involved in illicit nuclear-weapons-related work. No evidence of a current weapons program has emerged. Agency defenders argue it has followed up on the Turquz Abad allegations. Mr. Feruta called Tehran out in September for stalling the agency’s probe of its activities there. IAEA officials say they have visited Iranian nonnuclear facilities, including universities, where weapons-related research could take place. …. [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.}

The EU’s Need to Acknowledge Iran’s Nefarious Conduct
Giulio Terzi
RealClear Defense, Oct. 25, 2019

In July, Iranian pro-democracy activists held a conference, one of many that focused on “calling for justice” for the victims of a three decades-old massacre of political prisoners. It may be difficult for some Western readers to imagine more than 30 years passing without anyone being held accountable for the murder of 30,000 political prisoners.

But that is precisely the situation that is driving these calls for justice. And it is a situation that persists in no small part because of the silence of Western governments and the long history of Iran’s brutal leaders benefiting from policies of appeasement that have emboldened Tehran in its nefarious regional conduct and taking dual citizens and even European citizens as hostage.

In the July conference, Maryam Rajavi, the president of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, explained that the international community had been made aware of the massacre while it was still in its earliest stages. The Iranian Resistance, she said, had urged a response, particularly from Western governments, only to be met with silence.

In fact, Mrs. Rajavi noted that European and American officials had already started granting impunity to their Iranian counterparts in the early 1980s. She added that the regime’s crimes “reached new heights during the 1988 massacre and have continued to this day.” All the while the NCRI has continued its efforts to focus international attention on an underreported crime against humanity and a wide range of narrower human rights abuses.

The world should have grown more and more receptive to that message as it witnessed the public conduct of the Iranian regime. But somehow, that conduct has never overcome the Western world’s misguided optimism about the potential for political reform within the Islamic Republic. That optimism was perhaps never on clearer display than following the election of President Hassan Rouhani in 2013, which paved the way for the signing of the Iran nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action two years later.
It is not clear whether the nations of Europe, who pride themselves on defending and advocating for human rights, believed that a “moderate” presidency might lead to domestic investigations of crimes that have gone unpunished for so long. It seems that with so much time having passed since the 1988 massacre, the European policymakers decided it was not relevant to modern-day politics concerning the Iranian regime.

Of course, the latter view seriously undercuts the image of Europe as being committed to human rights. It also ignores the fact that the massacre obviously remains relevant to its survivors and to the relatives of its victims. They are not likely to put aside their demands for accountability, least of all, when a conspiracy of silence systematically robs them of the opportunity for closure or the barest sense of justice.

As the NCRI has worked hard to prove, the Iranian regime covers up more evidence of its past crimes with each passing year. A number of mass graves were created in 1988, located by activists in subsequent years, but then paved over and built upon before they could be inspected and used to demonstrate the scale of the killings. Not that any such inspections have ever been public considered, despite countless efforts by the NCRI and others to have information about the massacre referred to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

For Further Reference:

Report: Israel Preparing for Iranian Drone, Cruise Missile Attack Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, Oct. 23, 2019 –– Israel is beefing up its defenses to protect the country against Iranian drones and low-flying, hard-to-detect cruise missiles over concerns the Islamic Republic may launch an attack in response to alleged Israeli strikes on Iranian-backed proxies in recent weeks.

Netanyahu Says Iran Seeking Means to Attack Israel from Yemen Dan Williams, Reuters, Oct. 28, 2019  — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran on Monday of seeking the means to launch precision-guided missiles at Israel from Yemen, a signal that the war-torn Gulf Arab country could come under pre-emptive Israeli attack.

Next Steps in the Maximum Pressure Campaign: United Against Nuclear Iran, Oct. 2019 — The Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign is wreaking maximum havoc on Iran’s economy.

U.S. Keeps Eye on Iran Oil Buyers as Sanctions Squeeze Flows:  Sharon Cho and Saket Sundria, Bloomberg, Oct. 29, 2019 — The U.S. has a message for buyers of sanctioned Iranian crude: we’re watching you.

In a Year, Iran Can Begin Buying Weapons from Russia and China and Exporting Them to Terrorists Eli Lake, Mosaic, Oct. 25, 2019 — The concession wasn’t to Iran so much as to China and Russia, two great-power rivals that participated in the nuclear negotiations.