Tag: NORTH KOREA

ISRAEL EXPLORES NEW OPPORTUNITIES IN LATIN AMERICA, ASIA, AND AFRICA

Brazil Finds More Than a Friend in Israel: Allison Fedirka, Real Clear World, Jan. 6, 2018 — The friendly relationship between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, made headlines at the end of 2018.

Israeli-Japanese Friendship: A Potential Yet to Be Realized: Shaun Ho, JCPA, Dec. 25, 2018— In the past few years, Israel has begun to tilt toward the East.

Israel and North Korea: A New Opportunity?: Dr. Alon Levkowitz, BESA, Dec. 31, 2018— In the early 1990s, Eitan Ben-Zur of the Israeli foreign office tried to explore the possibility of a deal with North Korea to halt its missile shipments to states in the Middle East that pose a threat to Israel.

China is at a Crossroads: Brahma Chellaney, Globe and Mail, Jan. 1, 2019— Four decades ago, the Chinese Communist Party, under its new leader Deng Xiaoping, decided to subordinate ideology to wealth creation, spawning a new aphorism, “To get rich is glorious.”

On Topic Links

A Golden Opportunity: Ariel Kahana, Israel Hayom, Dec. 30, 2018

How the African-Israeli Rapprochement is About Poetic Justice: Amotz Asa-El, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 1, 2019

East Mediterranean Partnership Signals an Energy Revolution: Dr. Emmanuel Navon, JISS, Dec. 2, 2018

The U.S. is Right to Worry About Co-Operation Between its Adversaries: Kori Schake, National Post, Nov. 15, 2018

 

BRAZIL FINDS MORE THAN A FRIEND IN ISRAEL

Allison Fedirka

Real Clear World, Jan. 6, 2018

The friendly relationship between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, made headlines at the end of 2018. This “budding brotherhood,” as they’ve called it, started when Bolsonaro, then the president-elect, announced plans to move Brazil’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Though he has since revised that promise, relations between the two countries continue to flourish. Netanyahu even attended Bolsonaro’s inauguration Jan. 1, becoming the first sitting Israeli prime minister to visit Brazil. More than a bromance, the close ties between the two leaders are a testament to their countries’ foreign policy strategies.

Alignment with Israel, while often framed as a new development, is a return to form for Brazil. In the late 1940s, Brazil supported the creation of an Israeli state and was among the first countries to recognize the Israeli government. Ties between the two grew closer during Brazil’s military dictatorship, from 1964 to 1985, as they cooperated in areas such as security and nuclear energy. The relationship continued through the 1990s; in fact, Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso received several awards from Israel, including an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, while in office. It was only when Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took power in Brasilia in 2003 that Brazil-Israel relations became strained. Diverging from Cardoso’s neoliberal economic policies, da Silva espoused more direct government control of the economy and ushered in a populist era of government in Brazil.

Changes in foreign policy accompanied the economic shifts: Brasilia turned against the United States – and, by extension, against Israel. Brazil formally recognized the Palestinian state, according to the 1967 border, in 2010. Even then, its relationship with Israel persisted. In 2010, Brazil also ratified the free trade agreement that the Common Market of the South, a regional trade bloc better known as Mercosur, had struck with Israel three years earlier. And despite its decision to recognize Palestine, Brazil never upgraded its diplomatic mission there to embassy status. The moves didn’t exactly please Israel, but neither did they derail its relations with Brazil.

Bolsonaro wants to reverse course from the populist policies of Brazil’s recent history. To that end, he’s pledged to roll back government interference in the economy and to reach out once more to the developed countries da Silva eschewed in a bid to promote industrialization and growth among fellow developing economies. And Bolsonaro’s market reforms, like those of his predecessors, will come with foreign policy changes. Where da Silva looked to other countries in the Southern Hemisphere – namely states in South America and Africa, as well as China – for support and cooperation, the new Brazilian president is turning back toward wealthier northern states like the U.S., countries in Northern Europe and, of course, Israel.

For Israel, meanwhile, Bolsonaro’s interest is well-timed. Israel, a relatively small country, depends on trade and collaboration with other states to keep its economy humming. Surrounded as it is by rivals, however, it must look beyond the Middle East to find suitable partners. Latin America is a natural choice. The region’s many developing markets and trade potential make it an attractive destination for Israel, which, according to the latest World Bank figures, derives 30 percent of gross domestic product from exports. South America remains a largely untapped market for Israel, and it boasts a wealth of natural resources and numerous opportunities for investment, technology development and military modernization. Over the past couple years, Netanyahu has paid official visits to Colombia, Argentina and Chile, along with several countries in Central America. But Brazil is a standout in the region. Not only does it have a $1.93 trillion economy – the world’s ninth-largest, by the World Bank’s most recent data – but it also has recently pulled itself out of recession. Now that Bolsonaro has taken office, promises of deregulation and more open markets have made Brazil even more enticing.

The focus on economic ties in Latin America is something of a departure for Israel. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Israel built its relationships with regional states, including Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Argentina and Colombia, on military backing and support for various armed groups. Its ties with Brazil and nearby countries today are broader in scope by comparison. Nevertheless, military equipment still has a role to play in the partnerships.

In Brazil’s case, technology transfer and development are the priority. Brazil began talks with Israel in March 2018 to acquire and exchange scientific and defense technologies, an arrangement that would at once satisfy Israel’s desire to export military goods and services, its area of expertise, and Brazil’s need to acquire more advanced technology. The two also have reached nascent agreements over defense technology, such as missiles, radar and high-tech surveillance cameras, that could help modernize Brazil’s military and law enforcement. (Some recent Brazilian governments have shied away from making these kinds of deals, but Bolsonaro, a champion of the military and security forces, will welcome them.) Space exploration and satellites are other points of mutual interest. Brazil can benefit from Israel’s know-how on the subject, while Israel takes advantage of Brazil’s strategic launch sites near the equator…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

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ISRAELI-JAPANESE FRIENDSHIP:

A POTENTIAL YET TO BE REALIZED                                                                     

Shaun Ho

JCPA, Dec. 25, 2018

In the past few years, Israel has begun to tilt toward the East. Prompted by declining political support from Europe, Jerusalem gradually turned to non-Western powers such as Russia and China for support. While Israel’s growing relationship with China, in particular, has gained widespread attention in recent years, little attention has been paid to Israel’s relationship with the other Asian economic superpower—Japan. Despite being the third largest economy and one of the most powerful countries in the world, Japan has often been below the radar in Israel’s foreign relations and vice versa. Until the 1990s, Japan avoided trade with the Jewish state because of its strong reliance on oil and gas imported from the Arab states and hence its compliance with the Arab League boycott of Israel. As a result, most Japanese firms were unwilling to trade with Israel until the Arab League boycott ended in the 1990s.1 Although relations between Israel and Japan have improved significantly, especially in trade and economic cooperation, these two countries have yet to develop a close political and economic relationship to the extent that Israel has with its Western allies and even China. Yet there is great potential for the two countries to develop deeper economic and even geopolitical ties, as both Japan and Israel would benefit considerably from increasing economic and technological cooperation, particularly in the field of innovation, and political cooperation on the international stage.

Despite both being developed nations, Japan and Israel have very different economic structures. The former has an enormous and mature economy dominated by conglomerates and other large corporations, while the latter has a relatively small but innovative economy whose growth is largely dependent on the myriad start-ups in “Silicon Wadi.” Additionally, corporate cultural differences between the two countries cannot be any starker. Japanese corporations are known globally for their rigid hierarchical structures and meticulous attention to detail, while Israelis are averse to vertical hierarchies and prioritize innovation over detail. Although it may seem that two countries with such contrasting cultures would not be able to work together effectively, these differences, in fact, would allow Japan and Israel to complement each other and alleviate each other’s structural weaknesses. As Glenn Newman wrote in the Japan Times in August 2018, “Israel and Japan are the yin and yang of countries. And yet, despite — or maybe because of — their differences, they have much to offer each other. Marrying their respective geniuses, Japan and Israel could be a killer combination.”

Following decades of economic boom in the post-war period, Japan’s asset price bubble burst, and its economy slumped into a period of stagnation known as the “Lost Decades” from the 1990s until well into the early 2010s. To reinvigorate the Japanese economy and make it more competitive on the world stage, in 2012 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe initiated a set of economic reforms known as “Abenomics,” which consists of three “arrows” (overarching policies): monetary easing, fiscal stimulus, and structural reforms. As part of the third “arrow” to reform the economic structure, the government is seeking to use innovation and technology to increase Japan’s competitiveness and economic growth. Although Japan is often regarded as one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world, it has been falling behind in innovation in recent years and losing its technological edge over countries such as the United States, South Korea, and China. Many critics contend that one major reason for the lack of innovation is that the rigid hierarchical structure of Japanese corporations and the cultural aversion to risk stifle innovation of new technologies and discourage entrepreneurship.

This is where Israel can potentially complement and play a role in Japan’s economy. In contrast to Japanese culture, which values structure, consensus-making, and meticulousness, Israeli culture is more egalitarian, more individualistic, and less risk-averse. As a result, Israelis are much more willing to develop new technologies and to engage in creative entrepreneurship, allowing Israel to become one of the most innovative countries and to have the highest number of start-ups per capita in the world. By investing in and cooperating with Israeli high-tech firms and start-ups, Japanese firms would be able to gain access to Israeli technology. Already, several Japanese corporations, such as Panasonic, NEC, and Ricoh have begun cooperation with Israeli companies in research and development (R&D) programs and plans to establish R&D centers in Silicon Wadi. Japanese automobile giants like Toyota, Nissan, and Honda have also started to invest in and cooperate with Israeli start-ups to improve their automotive technologies.789 Japan’s investments in Israeli start-ups would be immensely beneficial to the Japanese economy, not only because it would gain access to technology that it would not have otherwise, but also because many of these technologies would be potentially crucial to the Japanese government’s effort to create sustainable economic growth through innovation.

As part of the Abenomics reforms, for example, the Japanese government has launched an initiative called “Society 5.0,” which aims to shift Japan to an “innovative society” based on the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and big data. [See glossary below for definitions.] As a world leader in AI and big data technology, Israel can contribute toward many areas of this initiative.

One area toward which Israeli firms can contribute is health care. With its rapidly aging population, Japan is seeking ways to increase people’s access to health care, particularly in rural areas where the elderly are concentrated. The “Society 5.0” initiative aims to utilize AI and big data to improve people’s access to medical services and data. Having developed some of the top medical technologies in the world, Israeli firms can play a big role in Japan’s effort to innovate its medical data technologies. For example, Israeli startups such as Genoox and Aidoc, which have revolutionized the use of big data in health care, can complement Japan’s current medical data technology.

Another area in which Israeli technology would assist Japan’s transition into an innovative economy is financial technology (fintech). As one of the largest and most important financial markets in the world, Japan is surprisingly backward in fintech, falling behind most other advanced economies and even China and India. Furthermore, a high proportion of transactions in Japan are still conducted in cash, making Japan one of the most cash-dependent societies in the developed world. Because of the high transaction costs that come with cash payments, the Japanese government is promoting cashless payments and money transfers based on blockchain technology [See glossary below for definitions.] as part of the “Society 5.0” initiative…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

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ISRAEL AND NORTH KOREA: A NEW OPPORTUNITY?

Dr. Alon Levkowitz                    

BESA, Dec. 31, 2018

In the early 1990s, Eitan Ben-Zur of the Israeli foreign office tried to explore the possibility of a deal with North Korea to halt its missile shipments to states in the Middle East that pose a threat to Israel. The deal would have included indirect Israeli economic assistance to Pyongyang to compensate it for the financial losses it would incur from the cessation of those sales. The Ben-Zur initiative was supported by Shimon Peres, the Israeli foreign minister.

In the end, the deal was not concluded due to a disagreement between the Israeli foreign office and the Mossad about its feasibility. Another barrier to the initiative was Washington’s objection to Jerusalem’s involvement with Pyongyang at a time when the US was trying to reach its own agreement with North Korea on the nuclear issue. Washington was disturbed by the Jerusalem-Pyongyang contacts despite the fact that Israel’s sole focus – missile shipments to the Middle East – was not perceived by the Americans as a critical issue.

Almost three decades later, Washington is negotiating with Pyongyang on an agreement that will include complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement (CVID) of its nuclear and long-range missile programs. Again, as occurred during the 1990s negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang, the agreement is not expected to view military exports to the Middle East as a core issue.

The current improvement in relations among Seoul, Pyongyang, and Washington does not include any mechanisms to verify and prevent the continuation of military exports, such as missiles, from North Korea to Syria and Iran. Israel does not have any leverage over Washington or Pyongyang to force them to prevent the continuation of North Korean military exports to the Middle East. That is why Jerusalem should take the opportunity to try an updated Ben-Zur initiative towards North Korea.

While Moon Jae-in might support such an initiative because it would be congruent with his own North Korea policy, Washington might object on the grounds that it would evade international sanctions and decrease Washington’s pressure on Pyongyang. Israel should therefore offer economic assistance to North Korea in agriculture, medical technology, and green energy on condition that Pyongyang starts to disarm itself. In so doing, Jerusalem could mitigate Washington’s objections and might be able to gain both American and South Korean support.

Israeli economic assistance to North Korea in exchange for a verified cessation of military exports would compensate Pyongyang for the losses it might face as a result of the decrease in military exports to the Middle East. This would help Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in legitimize their request to ease the sanctions on North Korea in order to pursue further joint economic projects.

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CHINA IS AT A CROSSROADS

Brahma Chellaney                                  

Globe and Mail, Jan. 1, 2019

Four decades ago, the Chinese Communist Party, under its new leader Deng Xiaoping, decided to subordinate ideology to wealth creation, spawning a new aphorism, “To get rich is glorious.” The party’s central committee, disavowing Mao Zedong’s thought as dogma, embraced a principle that became Mr. Deng’s oft-quoted dictum, “Seek truth from facts.” Mr. Mao’s death earlier in 1976 had triggered a vicious and protracted power struggle. When the diminutive Mr. Deng – once described by Mr. Mao as a “needle inside a ball of cotton” – finally emerged victorious at the age of 74, he hardly looked like an agent of reform.

But having been purged twice from the party during the Mao years – including once for proclaiming during the 1960s that “it doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice” – Mr. Deng seized the opportunity to usher in transformative change. The Four Modernizations program under Mr. Deng remarkably transformed China, including spurring its phenomenal economic rise. China’s economy today is 30 times larger than it was three decades ago. Indeed, in terms of purchasing power parity, China’s economy is already larger than America’s.

Yet, four decades after it initiated reform, China finds itself at the crossroads, with its future trajectory anything but certain. To be sure, when it celebrates in 2019 the 70th anniversary of its communist “revolution,” China can truly be proud of its remarkable achievements. An impoverished, backward country in 1949, it has risen dramatically and now commands respect and awe in the world.

China is today the world’s largest, strongest and longest-surviving autocracy. This is a country increasingly oriented to the primacy of the Communist Party. But here’s the paradox: The more it globalizes while seeking to simultaneously insulate itself from liberalizing influences, the more vulnerable it is becoming to unforeseen political “shocks” at home. Its overriding focus on domestic order explains one unusual but ominous fact: China’s budget for internal security – now officially at US$196-billion – is larger than even its official military budget, which has grown rapidly to eclipse the defence spending of all other powers except the United States.

China’s increasingly repressive internal machinery, aided by a creeping Orwellian surveillance system, has fostered an overt state strategy to culturally smother ethnic minorities in their traditional homelands. This, in turn, has led to the detention of a million or more Muslims from Xinjiang in internment camps for “re-education.” Untrammelled repression, even if effective in achieving short-term objectives, could sow the seeds of violent insurgencies and upheavals.

More broadly, China’s rulers, by showing little regard for the rights of smaller countries as they do for their own citizens’ rights, are driving instability in the vast Indo-Pacific region. Nothing better illustrates China’s muscular foreign policy riding roughshod over international norms and rules than its South China Sea grab. It was exactly five years ago that Beijing began pushing its borders far out into international waters by pressing its first dredger into service for building artificial islands. The islands, rapidly created on top of shallow reefs, have now been turned into forward military bases.

The island-building anniversary is as important as the 40th economic-reform anniversary, because it is reminder that China never abandoned its heavy reliance since the Mao era on raw power. In fact, no sooner had Mr. Deng embarked on reshaping China’s economic trajectory than he set out to “teach a lesson” to Vietnam. The February-March 1979 military attack occurred just days after Mr. Deng – the “nasty little man,” as Henry Kissinger once called him – became the first Chinese communist leader to visit Washington.

A decade later, Mr. Deng brutally crushed a student-led, pro-democracy movement at home. He ordered the tank and machine-gun assault that came to be known as the Tiananmen massacre, according to a British government estimate, at least 10,000 demonstrators and bystanders perished. Yet, the United States continued to aid China’s economic modernization, as it had done since 1979, when president Jimmy Carter sent a memo to various U.S. government departments instructing them to help in China’s economic rise.

Today, a fundamental shift in America’s China policy, with its broad bipartisan support, is set to outlast Donald Trump’s presidency. This underscores new challenges for China, at a time when its economy is already slowing and it has imposed tighter capital controls to prop up its fragile financial system and the yuan’s international value…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

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On Topic Links

A Golden Opportunity: Ariel Kahana, Israel Hayom, Dec. 30, 2018—The crowds of people waving Brazilian flags to welcome Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are just one reason for excitement. That President-elect Jair Bolsonaro bestowed Netanyahu – the first foreign leader to officially visit the country since Bolsonaro’s election – with his country’s highest honor is also just part of the story.

How the African-Israeli Rapprochement is About Poetic Justice: Amotz Asa-El, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 1, 2019—In the beginning the British had the Bible and the Africans had the land, said once Jomo Kenyatta, the father of modern Kenya. Then, he said, missionaries arrived, had the Africans close their eyes, and when they opened their eyes they saw the Africans had the Bible and the British had the land.

East Mediterranean Partnership Signals an Energy Revolution: Dr. Emmanuel Navon, JISS, Dec. 2, 2018—The announcement in November that Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Italy have agreed to build a natural gas pipeline (the longest in the world) from Israel’s offshore gas fields to Europe, clearly indicates that Israel has chosen the Greek option over the Turkish one.

The U.S. is Right to Worry About Co-Operation Between its Adversaries: Kori Schake, National Post, Nov. 15, 2018—President Donald Trump’s National Security Strategy puts much greater emphasis on the return to great power competition than other American post-Cold War strategy documents.

 

 

IDF AIMS TO NEUTRALIZE FUTURE HEZBOLLAH & HAMAS THREATS WITH MINIMAL COLLATERAL DAMAGE

IDF: Israel Prepared to ‘Neutralise’ Hezbollah with ‘Overwhelming’ Force in Next War: Adam Abrams, JNS, Sept. 19, 2017— Despite the raging civil war to Israel’s north and east in Syria, the Jewish state’s northern border has remained precariously quiet over the last decade.

Victory, Not Deterrence, Will be the Goal if There is Another Gaza War: Yaakov Lappin, Arutz Sheva, Aug. 29, 2017— In past models of conflict, Israel responded to Hamas aggression through the use of force in a way that was designed to punish Hamas and convince it to return to a state of calm.

Israel Unveils New Defense Technology That Can Predict Future Battlefields: Anna Ahronheim, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 5, 2017— As the nation’s enemies continue to develop their military capabilities, Israel works to stay at least one step ahead, predicting what types of technology will be needed in future wars.

Israel Has a Playbook for Dealing With North Korea: Zev Chafets, Bloomberg, Sept. 7, 2017 — Israel and North Korea are on opposite sides of the Asian landmass, separated by 5,000 miles as the ICBM flies.

 

On Topic Links

 

As Syrian War Winds Down, Israel Sets Sights on Hezbollah: National Post, Sept. 20, 2017

Israel vs. Iran and Hezbollah: Towards a Military Clash?: Ehud Eilam, Israel Defense, Sept. 14, 2017

Cyber Warfare — Reasons Why Israel Leads The Charge: Christopher P. Skroupa , Forbes, Sept. 7, 2017

‘Killer Robots’ Can Make War Less Awful: Jeremy Rabkin and John Yoo, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 2, 2017

 

 

 

IDF: ISRAEL PREPARED TO ‘NEUTRALISE’ HEZBOLLAH

WITH ‘OVERWHELMING’ FORCE IN NEXT WAR

Adam Abrams

JNS, Sept. 19, 2017

 

Despite the raging civil war to Israel’s north and east in Syria, the Jewish state’s northern border has remained precariously quiet over the last decade. No stranger to looming threats, Israeli officials are planning and ready for several worst-case scenarios in the north as Iran and its terror proxy Hezbollah continue to forge their stranglehold on the region…

 

In a possible war scenario with Hezbollah, the Israeli military can launch a “massive and overwhelming” operation that would effectively “neutralize” a significant part of the Lebanese terror organization’s military capability, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, the head of the International Media Branch for the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, told JNS.org. The IDF’s operation would be based on “very accurate intelligence” collected “relentlessly” and “would minimize to the greatest extent possible, harm to non-combatants…. by using the most precise guided munitions that strike only at the legitimate military targets,” Conricus said.

 

Striking only Hezbollah targets without collateral damage will be a challenging military feat because Hezbollah is deliberately “deployed in order to maximize collateral damage” to civilians, he added. One-third of the homes in southern Lebanon’s 130 villages are known to house military components belonging to Hezbollah. “Hezbollah’s strategic choice of the battlefield, embedding its military assets in Shiite villages and towns, has put the majority of the Shiite population in Lebanon in harm’s way, using it as human shields….” Brigadier general (Res.) Assaf Orion, a senior research fellow at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), told JNS.org.

 

Defeating the terror group would likely involve “significant IDF ground incursions into Lebanon as well as taking out Hezbollah rocket positions located in high-density population areas,” in hospitals, schools and apartment buildings, Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, told JNS.org. In a future conflict, one could expect “significant damage to Israel,” Orion said, but simultaneously “a devastating and unprecedented destruction in Lebanon, including a significant victory against Hezbollah’s military forces and destruction of most infrastructure enabling its war fighting capacity.”

 

Due to Hezbollah’s deep entrenchment within civilian infrastructure, the IDF has narrow windows of opportunity to engage “legitimate military targets,” Conricus said. However, the IDF is prepared for this scenario and recently completed its largest drill in two decades in Israel’s northern region, simulating cross-border Hezbollah attacks on Israeli towns in which the terror group aims to commit massacres and take hostages.

 

The exercise was planned over a year and half in advance and tens of thousands of soldiers from all branches of the IDF participated. During the initial stage of the drill, soldiers simulated rooting out Hezbollah terrorists from Israeli towns and defending the Jewish state’s sovereignty. The drill’s second stage simulated “decisive maneuver warfare” into the depths of Hezbollah’s territory, Conricus said. The exercise sought to enhance “coordination and synchronization” between the IDF’s ground forces, air force, navy, intelligence and cyber units, and shorten “the intelligence cycle” from when a “target is identified to any type of munition meeting that target,” he added.

 

The IDF has acknowledged that since the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah has matured from a guerilla organization to a fighting force equipped with heavy artillery, high-precision missiles and drones. The terror group also receives about $800 million a year in funding from Iran. A third of Hezbollah’s forces are currently entrenched in Syria’s ongoing civil war — becoming battle-hardened, but simultaneously overstretched, losing some 2,000 fighters in the conflict.

 

Hezbollah and Iran have established weapons factories in Lebanon that can produce powerful missiles and, according to the IDF official, “more than 120,000 rocket launchers and rockets” are positioned in southern Lebanon, “in clear violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701.” Iran and Hezbollah are also constructing permanent military facilities in southern Syria to establish a land bridge stretching from Tehran to Beirut along Israel’s northern border.

 

According to Schanzer, this indicates the next war with Hezbollah “would likely be a two-front battle in Lebanon and Syria,” which could also include other Iranian terror proxies in the region. The IDF official confirmed, “it is definitely possible and plausible” that the Israeli military will be required to fight on more than one front, which the military is prepared for.

 

Using its “networked intelligence,” the IDF is prepared to implement “a massive precision strike…. on a scale which far exceeds the assessed growth in Hezbollah’s military [capability],” Orion said. Since 2006, Hezbollah has occasionally been given a glimpse of the “quality, scope and intimacy” of Israeli intelligence collected against it, the IDF official said, which has created a deterrence and quiet for the past 11 years. A recent purported Israeli airstrike against a Syrian chemical weapons facility Sept. 7, which occurred during the massive IDF exercise, may have served as one such glimpse into Israel’s intelligence capability directed against the terror group and its allies.

 

Israel is “far better prepared for the next war with Hezbollah” than it was in the 2006, Schanzer said. “We see now the appearance of stealth tank technology, the preparation for ground warfare and the possibility of tunnels into Israel… as well as the preparation for mass volleys of rockets launched by Hezbollah into Israel.” The Israeli Air Force has also acquired several new state-of-the-art F-35 “Adir” stealth fighter jets, and in recent weeks the military unveiled multiple revolutionary defense technologies that will soon be added to its arsenal.                                                                     

 

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VICTORY, NOT DETERRENCE, WILL BE THE GOAL

IF THERE IS ANOTHER GAZA WAR

Yaakov Lappin

Arutz Sheva, Aug. 29, 2017

 

In past models of conflict, Israel responded to Hamas aggression through the use of force in a way that was designed to punish Hamas and convince it to return to a state of calm. Systematically destroying Hamas’s military capabilities was not an Israeli objective. Today, while Israel hopes to avoid war, it is preparing for the possibility of a new conflict. War could erupt again in Gaza for a wide range of reasons.

 

Should hostilities resume, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) plans to make sure the end stage of that clash will be an unmistakable Israeli victory, and that no one will be able to mistake it for a tie or stalemate. This change in approach has been brewing over the past three years, ever since the end of Operation Protective Edge in 2014. That operation was launched by Israel to defend itself against large-scale projectile attacks and cross-border tunnel threats from Gaza. At two months’ duration, it was one of Israel’s most protracted conflicts. It was also the third large-scale clash fought with Hamas since 2009. At the end of each round of fighting, the military wing of Hamas remained intact, and was able to quickly begin rearming and preparing new capabilities for the next outbreak of hostilities.

 

Should Hamas initiate another conflict with Israel, Jerusalem should not be expected to return to the deterrence model. It will not make do with the goal of returning calm to the area, as it did in 2014, 2012, and 2009. Instead, Israel would likely seek to destroy Hamas’s military wing, including its underground labyrinth of tunnels under Gaza City, built to enable operations out of Israel’s sight. Hamas’s decision to embed many of its offensive capabilities in Gaza’s civilian areas will not immunize it to Israeli strikes. The IDF would, however, make every effort to minimize harm to noncombatants.

 

After 2014, the IDF’s Southern Command began moving away from the “frequent rounds” model, concluding that Israel should not be dragged into major armed conflicts with Hamas every two to three years. The Southern Command identified three alternatives for Israel and Gaza. Under the first, Israel would continue to experience short, temporary truces – an option deemed unacceptable. In the second scenario, Israel would conquer Gaza and topple the Hamas regime completely. In such a scenario, Israel would either rule the Strip and its two million Palestinian inhabitants or find someone who would. It is unlikely that the Palestinian Authority (PA) would take over Gaza after an Israeli “handoff.” Not only would the PA lose domestic legitimacy, but its ability to retain Gaza without IDF assistance would be in serious doubt.

 

As a result of these calculations, the defense establishment identified a long-term truce, fueled by Israeli deterrence, as the best option. That is the current situation between the combatants: a long-term truce. During the time the truce has lasted, the idea of facing two bad choices – occupying Gaza or accepting the “frequent rounds” model – has evolved. One possibility, in the event of a new conflict, is that the IDF takes out Hamas’s military wing but leaves in place its political wing and police force, thereby creating a feasible Israeli exit from Gaza that does not depend on Jerusalem’s finding new rulers for the Strip.

 

Today, three years after Operation Protective Edge, Hamas continues to rebuild itself. Its domestic arms industry is producing rockets, mortar shells, and tunnels. Tunnels under Gaza City are designed to enable Hamas battalions to launch hit-and-run attacks on the IDF and to move weapons and logistics out of Israel’s sight. The other kind of tunnel threat, the network of cross-border tunnels, is on borrowed time. Israel is building an underground wall along the 65-kilometer Gazan border, and it progresses with each passing day. Israel has invested billions of shekels in that project, and an anti-tunnel detection system is also operational.

 

Hamas is not sitting idle during the truce. It is looking for new assault tactics. It seeks to be able to flood southern Israel with short-range projectiles that can carry a warhead as big as a half-ton, which would pose a major threat to any built-up area near the Strip. Hamas can also try to paralyze central Israel with medium-range projectiles, even if these are intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system. Air raid sirens and interceptions are severely disruptive for Israel even without significant projectile damage.

 

Hamas continues to work on its naval commando cells, which are designed to infiltrate Israel via the coast. It is also continuing to pursue its drone program, with which it hopes to send explosives at targets in a guided manner. Israel is well aware of these capabilities. Hamas remains a serious combat challenge, and has proven its ability to adapt to Israel’s progress. But Hamas is also under intense, unremitting Israeli intelligence surveillance. Hamas is likely aware that any new clash would involve upgraded Israeli combat capabilities that are better suited for the Gazan arena.

 

Israel has been using the truce to build up its force and study the Gazan battlefield. It is building a growing fleet of armored personnel carriers and tanks that can defend themselves with active protection systems. In Gaza, where practically every Hamas fighter is armed with an armor-piercing RPG, that kind of protection is a game changer.

 

Israel’s ability to strike Hamas’s underground city has also been enhanced significantly in recent years. Hamas will have nowhere to hide if war resumes. Hamas is likely aware that although it can pose serious challenges to the IDF and to the Israeli home front, Israel has changed its end game. For the time being, Hamas’s cost benefit analysis has led it to conclude that a lengthy truce is in its own best interest.

 

                                                                                   

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ISRAEL UNVEILS NEW DEFENSE TECHNOLOGY

THAT CAN PREDICT FUTURE BATTLEFIELDS                                                                    

Anna Ahronheim

Jerusalem Post, Sept. 5, 2017

 

As the nation’s enemies continue to develop their military capabilities, Israel works to stay at least one step ahead, predicting what types of technology will be needed in future wars. “MAFAT is trying to predict the future battlefield, both in terms of threat and technologically,” Brig.-Gen. (res.) Dr. Danny Gold, head of the Defense Ministry’s Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure (MAFAT), said on Monday during a briefing for military correspondents at the Kirya army headquarters in Tel Aviv.

 

MAFAT, which works with the IDF and civilian companies and engages in extensive cooperation with many countries around the world, is critical in providing the technology that make it possible for the IDF to outflank its enemies in all areas. Gold outlined several systems expected to be used by the IDF, including advanced facial-recognition technology, an armed, lightweight quadcopter developed by an Israeli start-up company and a new armored fighting vehicle.

 

Drawing lessons from 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, where IDF soldiers fought in narrow streets and alleys in the Gaza Strip, the 35-ton, tracked AVF is designed to be simple to operate, relatively inexpensive, agile and lethal with firepower designed for close and urban combat. The AFV, called Carmel (a Hebrew acronym for Advanced Ground Combat Vehicle), is under development by MAFAT and the Defense Ministry’s Merkava Tank Administration and will “constitute a quantum leap” in the field of armored vehicles, Gold said.

 

As part of the multi-year project, breakthrough technologies are being developed for the Carmel, including modular transparent armor, next-generation cooperative active protection, an IED alert and neutralization system, and a hybrid engine. While MAFAT expects the development and demonstration testing of the Carmel to extend over the coming decade or more, the first stage of the development plan is proof of its feasibility, Gold said. Israel is staying one step ahead of her enemies such as Iran and other countries that have “dramatically improved” their military capabilities, he said.

 

Gold, who took up his post last year, added that even beyond the Islamic Republic, there has been an expansion of the threats facing Israel, including the continued transfer of advanced weapons to the Middle East, the increase in the intensity and accuracy of firepower by enemy states and sub-state groups, and threats in the cyber domain. “We want total protection and intelligence control in cyberspace,” Gold said, explaining that the use of advanced cameras and other technological advancements were of significant help in the early prevention of terrorist attacks during the recent wave of Palestinian violence in the West Bank.

 

MAFAT is investing significant effort and funds into safeguarding the borders from existing and future threats, be they from missiles or drones, cyberattacks, and threats from underwater and underground, he said. One project currently in the works to protect Israel from naval threats are two unmanned submarines. One, named Caesar, is a small submarine that would be used primarily for reconnaissance and mapping missions. Developed in cooperation with Ben-Gurion University, the Caesar is at the forefront of global technology, characterized by its ability to dive rapidly and almost vertically.

 

“What do we need to have in order to be ahead of our enemy? It’s very complicated to think ahead of time how each solution will fit everything,” Gold said, explaining that Israel need robustness and flexibility in all defense systems in order to locate and eliminate any and all possible targets. “For example, the threat posed by precision missiles, it was clear to me that 10 years ago this type of threat would eventuate,” Gold said. Another system developed with the help of MAFAT is the Barak-8 radar, which has since been sold for billions of dollars to international clients. “This was built on the technology that we invested in when no one else believed in it,” he said.                            

 

Contents

 

ISRAEL HAS A PLAYBOOK FOR DEALING WITH NORTH KOREA                                                               

Zev Chafets       

Bloomberg, Sept. 7, 2017

 

Israel and North Korea are on opposite sides of the Asian landmass, separated by 5,000 miles as the ICBM flies. But Israelis feels close to the nuclear standoff between Washington and Pyongyang. They have faced this sort of crisis before, and may again.

 

Some history: In the mid-1970s, it became clear to Israel that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was working on acquiring nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them. Saddam had already demonstrated an uninhibited brutality in dealing with his internal enemies and his neighbors. He aspired to be the leader of the Arab world. Defeating Israel was at the top of his to-do list. After coming to office in 1977, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin tried to convince the U.S. and Europe that Saddam was a clear and present danger to the Jewish state, and that action had to be taken. Begin was not taken seriously.

 

But Begin was serious, and in 1981 he decided that Israel would have to stop the Iraqi dictator all by itself. His political opponents, led by the estimable Shimon Peres, considered this to be dangerous folly. Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, the legendary former military chief of staff, voted against unilateral action on the grounds that it would hurt Israel’s international standing. Defense Minister Ezer Weizmann, the former head of the air force (and Dayan’s brother-in-law) was also against a military option. He thought the mission would be unacceptably risky. Begin had no military expertise. But his family had been wiped out in the Holocaust. He looked at Saddam, who was openly threating Israel, and saw Hitler. To Begin, sitting around hoping for the best was not a strategy; it was an invitation to aggression. If there was going to be a cost — political, diplomatic, military — better to pay before, not after, the Iraqis had the bomb.

 

In the summer of 1981, Begin gave the order. The Israeli air force destroyed the Osirak reactor. The United Nations Security Council condemned the attack. The Europeans went bonkers. The New York Times called it “inexcusable.” But the Israeli prime minister wasn’t looking to be excused by the Times or the Europeans or even the usually friendly Ronald Reagan administration. He enunciated a simple rationale that would come to be known as the Begin Doctrine: Israel will not allow its avowed enemies to obtain the means of its destruction. The wisdom of this doctrine became clear a decade later, during the Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein made good on his threat to fire Russian-made SCUD missiles at Israeli cities. The SCUDs landed, and caused some damage and a fair amount of panic, but they were not armed with unconventional warheads. Israel had taken that option off the table.

 

Similarly, in 2007, Israel confirmed what it had suspected for five years: Syria, with North Korean help, was trying to build a nuclear reactor. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a Begin disciple, sent Mossad chief Meir Dagan to Washington, to ask for American intervention. The CIA chief, Michael Hayden, agreed with Israel’s contention that Damascus (with Iranian financing) was constructing the reactor. But Hayden convinced President George W. Bush that bombing the site would result in all-out war, and who wants that?

 

Acting on its own, Israel destroyed the Syrian site (reportedly killing a group of North Korean experts in the process). Hayden was wrong about how Syria would react, as he later admitted. If Israel had been reasonable and listened to the CIA, Bashar al-Assad would have nuclear weapons right now. A few years later, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak spent billions of dollars preparing and training to take out the Iranian nuclear program. Barak, not a member of Netanyahu's right-wing Likud Party, explained: “There are instances where it appears it is not necessary to attack now, but you know that you won’t be able to attack later.” In such cases, he said, the “consequences of inaction are grave, and you have to act.”…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

As Syrian War Winds Down, Israel Sets Sights on Hezbollah: National Post, Sept. 20, 2017—With President Bashar Assad seemingly poised to survive the Syrian civil war, Israeli leaders are growing nervous about the intentions of his Iranian patrons and their emerging corridor of influence across the region.

Israel vs. Iran and Hezbollah: Towards a Military Clash?: Ehud Eilam, Israel Defense, Sept. 14, 2017—Since 1979, Israel and Iran have been in a state of cold war, a conflict which has intensified since the early 2000s with the development of Iran’s nuclear program.

Cyber Warfare — Reasons Why Israel Leads The Charge: Christopher P. Skroupa , Forbes, Sept. 7, 2017—Cyber warfare is a relatively new kind of war that transcends the typical “declaration” that previous wars have had in the past. The war never officially started, yet its investment began more than a decade ago.

‘Killer Robots’ Can Make War Less Awful: Jeremy Rabkin and John Yoo, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 2, 2017—On Aug. 20, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and dozens of other tech leaders wrote an open letter sounding the alarm about “lethal autonomous weapons,” the combination of robotics and artificial intelligence that is likely to define the battlefield of the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRUMP’S “BLUNT, FORCEFUL AND FIRMLY REALIST” UN SPEECH CHALLENGED ROGUE REGIMES BUT RATTLED LEFTISTS

Trump's UN Speech was Properly Forceful and Pragmatic: Editorial, National Post, Sept. 22, 2017— On Tuesday, President Donald Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly.

Why the Left Hated Trump’s U.N. Speech: Marc A. Thiessen, Washington Post, Sept. 20, 2017— When Donald Trump ran for president, he criticized the interventionist policies of his Republican and Democratic predecessors, sparking fears that he would usher in a new era of American isolationism.

At ‘Iran Summit,’ Bipartisan Hatred of Iran Deal Stands Stronge: Philip H. DeVoe, National Review, Sept. 22, 2017— During his first address to the United Nations General Assembly, President Donald Trump declared the Iranian nuclear deal “an embarrassment to the United States,”…

The Nuclear Deal Is Only Half of It: Lee Smith, Weekly Standard, Sept. 25, 2017 — The Trump White House has yet to roll out its much-anticipated, comprehensive, government-wide Iran policy review…

 

On Topic Links

 

Trump at UN: He’s back. (Video): Israpundit, Sept. 19, 2017

Unfashionable as it is to Say, Trump Spoke the Ugly Truth in his Refreshing UN Speech: Christie Blatchford, National Post, Sept. 22, 2017 

State Department Waging "Open War" on White House: Soeren Kern, Gatestone Institute, September 17, 2017

Perfect Partners: Reuel Marc Gerecht, Weekly Standard, Sept. 18, 2017

 

 

 

TRUMP'S UN SPEECH WAS PROPERLY FORCEFUL AND PRAGMATIC

Editorial

National Post, Sept. 22, 2017

 

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly. If you only followed the media’s coverage of the event, you may be of the impression that it was a failure. Trump was widely ridiculed for referring to North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un as the “Rocket Man.” A picture of Chief of Staff John Kelly resting his head in his hand during the speech rapidly made the rounds on social media. The New York Times stated that Trump had “brought the same confrontational style of leadership he has used at home to the world’s most prominent stage.”

 

These sound bite accounts give Trump’s speech short shrift. If you watch the 40-minute address, there’s a good chance you’ll come away with a different view of it. Trump’s tone may have been bombastic, and his outlook unduly grim, but the positions he articulated on a wide range of issues — from global security to immigration to UN reform — were pragmatic. Trump used the speech to emphasize a basic, but often overlooked, fact of politics: a “government’s first duty is to its people, to our citizens … to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values.” Critics pounced on this “America First” rhetoric, suggesting it signaled a retreat from a commitment to pursue collective goals.

 

And Trump’s statements would have indeed been troubling if they had not been matched by clear language reinforcing the U.S.’ intention to work with its allies (as some of his earlier, ambiguous statements about NATO rightly led people to question). But this was not the case here. While Trump did emphasize the importance of state sovereignty, he also advocated for international action to address global problems. “Just as the founders of this body intended,” he stated, “we must work together and confront together those who threaten us with chaos, turmoil and terror.”

 

One important way the administration intends to do this, Trump made clear, is by dealing aggressively with the countries that are posing the most acute threats to global or regional stability: North Korea, Iran and Venezuela. To North Korea in particular, Trump delivered a forceful — but necessary — message: North Korea will suffer a terrible fate if the U.S. is forced to defend itself or its allies. Given Kim Jong-Un’s increasingly bellicose actions of late, it would be a grave concern if the U.S. administration were not employing severe actions and rhetoric to respond to Kim’s threats.

 

Which leads to Russia and China. Some pundits criticized Trump for only obliquely chiding these two heavyweights in his speech. While stronger language against Vladimir Putin in particular would have been welcome, it may have compromised nearer-term goals. Currently, the Trump administration is working to build international support to impose increasingly punitive sanctions on North Korea (last week, the Security Council unanimously passed new sanctions against the rogue state). For such efforts to be successful, the U.S. requires China and Russia’s co-operation. Similarly, if the U.S. does move ahead with plans to negotiate a tougher nuclear deal with Iran, it will need these two countries’ support, as they are signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear framework agreement.

 

On the question of refugees, Trump said that the U.S. will focus on supporting G20 agreements that “seek to host refugees as close to their home countries as possible.” While this message may not warm the heart like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s tweets aim to, the position is not unprincipled. As Syria’s civil war begins to wind down and ISIL becomes an increasingly diminished force, the region’s war-torn countries will need their human capital to return if they are to have any chance of rebuilding successfully. The U.S. may well get more bang for its buck supporting refugees from afar than it would from bringing a small number into its country for permanent resettlement.

 

Trump tackled another key issue: the UN must be reformed. “It is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations,” he noted, “that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the UN Human Rights Council.” He’s right. Currently, the Council’s membership includes Venezuela, which is inching closer towards dictatorship every day; the Philippines, which has undertaken a massive program of extra-judicial killings to combat its drug problem; and Saudi Arabia, which generally requires women to obtain a male guardian’s permission to travel, marry, work and obtain health care.

 

Trump also returned to a common, but important, theme: that other nations must contribute their fair share to the UN. The UN is comprised of 193 nations, yet, in 2017, the U.S. shouldered 22 per cent of its budget. The U.S. does not, obviously, house 22 per cent of the world’s population, so Trump is right to note that this math doesn’t work. Importantly, though, Trump reaffirmed support for the UN, and even noted the U.S. would be prepared to “bear an unfair cost burden” if the UN was reformed into a “much more accountable and effective advocate for human dignity and freedom around the world.” It is hard to disagree with this message.

 

In both style and substance, Trump’s speech did not resemble the kind of talks we’re used to politicians giving at the UN or other prestigious forums: it was blunt, forceful and firmly realist. Trump’s willingness to give voice to realities that other politicians refuse to acknowledge, or only delicately tiptoe around, is one of the reasons he was elected. The media does itself and voters a disservice when it fails to convey Trump’s true message.                                                           

 

Contents

WHY THE LEFT HATED TRUMP’S U.N. SPEECH

Marc A. Thiessen

Washington Post, Sept. 20, 2017

 

When Donald Trump ran for president, he criticized the interventionist policies of his Republican and Democratic predecessors, sparking fears that he would usher in a new era of American isolationism. But at the U.N. this week, Trump laid out a clear conservative vision for vigorous American global leadership based on the principle of state sovereignty.

 

Judging from their hysterical reaction, critics on the left now seem to fear he’s the second coming of George W. Bush. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) called his address “bombastic.” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said it represented an “abdication of values.” And Hillary Clinton said it was “very dark” and “dangerous.” This is all the standard liberal critique of conservative internationalism. The left said much the same about President Ronald Reagan.

 

In New York, Trump called on responsible nation-states to join the United States in taking on what he called the “scourge” of “a small group of rogue regimes that . . . respect neither their own citizens nor the sovereign rights of their countries.” This mission can be accomplished, Trump said, only if we recognize that “the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition.” He is right. Communism and fascism were not defeated by the United Nations, and global institutions did not fuel the dramatic expansion of human freedom and prosperity in the past quarter-century since the collapse of the Soviet Union. What has inspired and enabled the spread of peace, democracy and individual liberty was the principled projection of power by the world’s democratic countries, led by the United States.

 

This is what is needed today — and what Trump promised in his address. He recast his “America First” foreign policy as a call not for isolationism but for global leadership by responsible nation-states. He embraced the Marshall Plan — the massive U.S. effort to support Europe’s postwar recovery. And he declared that “if the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph” because “when decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength.” Trump then used this theme of sovereignty to challenge the United States’ two greatest geopolitical adversaries, China and Russia, insisting that “we must reject threats to sovereignty from the Ukraine to the South China Sea.”

 

The president also had a blunt message for North Korea. He dismissed its leader, Kim Jong Un, as “Rocket Man” and said Kim “is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.” He made clear that “the United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.” This message rattled some, and that was its intent. During the Cold War, Soviet leaders truly believed that Reagan was preparing for war and might actually launch a first strike. This belief is one of the reasons that a cataclysmic war never took place.

 

If we hope to avoid war with North Korea today, the regime in Pyongyang must be made to believe and understand that Trump is in fact, as he said at the U.N., “ready, willing and able” to take military action. His tough rhetoric was aimed not just at Pyongyang but also at China and other states whose cooperation in squeezing the regime is necessary for a peaceful solution. Those words must be followed by concrete steps short of total destruction to make clear that he is indeed serious and that North Korea will not be permitted to threaten American cites with nuclear annihilation.

 

Trump also put himself squarely on the side of morality in foreign policy and explicitly stood with those seeking freedom around the world. He promised to support the “enduring dream of the Cuban people to live in freedom.” He declared that “oppressive regimes cannot endure forever” and upbraided the Iranian regime for masking “a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy” while promising to stand with “the good people of Iran [who] want change.” He took on Iran’s ally, “the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad” in Syria, whose “use of chemical weapons against his own citizens, even innocent children, shock the conscience of every decent person.”

 

And his best moment came when he turned to what he called the “socialist dictatorship” of Nicolás Maduro, declaring that “the problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.” Trump promised to help the Venezuelan people “regain their freedom, recover their country and restore their democracy.” This is classic conservative internationalism: a vigorous defense of freedom, a bold challenge to dangerous dictators and a commitment to the principle of peace through strength. No wonder Trump’s critics on the left are so upset.              

 

Contents

AT ‘IRAN SUMMIT,’ BIPARTISAN HATRED OF IRAN DEAL STANDS STRONG                                                           

Philip H. DeVoe

National Review, Sept. 22, 2017

 

During his first address to the United Nations General Assembly, President Donald Trump declared the Iranian nuclear deal “an embarrassment to the United States,” assuring the audience that they haven’t “heard the last of it.” Four blocks away, at “Iran Summit 2017,” speakers including former Florida governor Jeb Bush, former senator Mike Kirk, General David Petraeus, former senator and vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, and other diplomats and congressmen gave a similar assurance: Support for the Iran deal is as low as ever.

 

The summit, held by the bipartisan group United Against Nuclear Iran, involved a series of panel discussions during which speakers explored the threat that Iran poses to the United States and its allies. Speakers agreed that preventing a nuclear Iran should be Trump’s top priority. Per the terms of the Iran “deal,” drafted in 2015 by the Obama administration, the United States agrees to lift sanctions if Iran closes a percentage of its uranium-enriching centrifuges and keeps its nuclear materials below the enrichment levels necessary for weapon development. Though the deal was broadly unpopular in 2015, due in part to its failure to guarantee a non-nuclear Iran after its expiration, the focus on issues such as health-care reform and the debt ceiling during the early days of the Trump administration has put it out of voters’ minds.

 

But not, it seems, out of all minds. Indeed if the UANI summit is to be trusted as a barometer, the renegotiation of the Iran deal is still a high priority for many in Washington, D.C., even within a Congress that is frequently willing to stonewall Trump legislation. In statements made to National Review, Mike Kirk confirmed he has full confidence that Congress won’t block Trump’s decision to rescind the deal, should the president decide to do so. When Congress voted on the deal in 2015, four Democratic senators and 19 Democratic representatives joined the Republican majority to vote no. According to Kirk, the only force blocking more Democrats from voting against the deal was influence from the Obama White House, so Trump should have an easy path forward. “The only thing saving Iran was Barack Obama,” Kirk said. “Iran has no allies now.”

 

Kirk also cited Iran’s close relationship with North Korea as a reason why public frustration with the deal remains strong. It was a point that many other speakers made in their comments. Lieberman opened his remarks by reminding the summit’s audience that the partnership between those two nations was bad for the stability of the world: “Any development in North Korea [in ballistic-missile technology] we will see next in Iran.” Or, put another way: A deal that fails to prevent Iranian ballistic-missile development and ensure nuclear deproliferation after it expires also threatens to increase North Korea’s power.

 

Many at the summit spoke in support of Trump’s foreign policy. Surprisingly, Trump’s 2016 primary foe Jeb Bush was one of the most ardent defenders of the president. Speaking opposite former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, a Democrat who opposed the deal, Bush responded to a question about Trump’s behavior toward Iran and North Korea by praising the president’s use of “chaotic language” as an appropriate strategic maneuver for “set[ting] the table” when dealing with hostile regimes.

 

Despite pressure from the moderator, NBC News’s Nicolle Wallace, Bush specifically credited Trump’s foreign policy as “moving in a more traditional way.” Bush did criticize Trump’s lack of “consistent policy,” but he recognized the president’s generals and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley are “leading the charge” and commended them on “doing a good job.”

 

Supporters of the deal have attempted to cut public support by employing the same arguments used in the debate over leaving the Paris climate agreement: The deal is better than nothing, and ending it would alienate our allies. But as many on the summit’s panels pointed out, renegotiation is central to the decision. Pulling the deal cold would certainly be worse than the original deal, which is why correcting mistakes and producing a new deal is so important. Representative Steve Israel (D., N.Y.), who broke party lines to vote against the Iran deal, explained that a central focus of renegotiations would be expanding it to include Middle Eastern countries, such as Israel, that were not parties to the original pact.

 

Panelists agreed that the U.S. should rapidly increase funding for its missile-defense program while the deal is still in place, because the deal fails to prevent Iran’s development of ballistic missiles. Considering that the U.S.’s missile-defense systems cannot adequately protect against an attack from even North Korea, building the program is key to national security. Kirk told NR that Israel’s current defense systems are also inadequate, being too old to target, let alone track and fire back at, incoming missiles. If Iran launches an ICBM at Tel Aviv or the United States before the deal is renegotiated, the odds are low that either nation will be able to protect itself.

 

For Americans concerned about the weakness of the Iran deal, the summit should provide some hope. Despite attacks from the left on Trump’s seemingly inevitable decision to back out of the deal, many on both sides are working to remind the public — and Congress — of its problems, and how important renegotiation is to national security. If the summit is any indication, the deal’s supporters are still few in number, and its repeal and revision will be swift.                                      

 

Contents

 

THE NUCLEAR DEAL IS ONLY HALF OF IT                                                

Lee Smith                    

Weekly Standard, Sept. 25, 2017

 

The Trump White House has yet to roll out its much-anticipated, comprehensive, government-wide Iran policy review, but administration principals have met over the last few weeks to iron out details regarding the nuclear deal with Iran, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. On September 14, as expected, Trump renewed the waiver that provides sanctions relief to Iran under the JCPOA’s terms, while the Treasury Department at the same time imposed new sanctions targeting supporters of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

 

That recipe—waive nuclear sanctions while imposing other sanctions—is in keeping with the administration’s larger message about Iran, namely, that the problems the Islamic Republic poses go far beyond the nuclear program. These include support for terrorism and criminal enterprises, threats to strategic waterways, and ballistic missile development. The question still outstanding is whether that big picture will come to affect U.S. policy towards Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, where the Islamic Republic is further entrenching its position.

 

The next Iran deal milestone comes October 15 when the president must again certify to Congress—per the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act—that Iran is meeting the conditions of the JCPOA. Trump, who criticized the deal during his presidential campaign, is reportedly keen to decertify. In July he told the Wall Street Journal that “if it was up to me, I would have had [Iran] noncompliant 180 days ago.” So far, though, he hasn’t done so, blaming his secretary of state for keeping him from making a command decision. And Rex Tillerson is trying to do so now. According to an Associated Press report last week, the State Department has already urged the president to certify Iranian compliance again and then go to Congress to fix the deal.

 

“The secretary of state and his staff have been working since the transition to play Trump for an idiot on Iran,” says one veteran Iran hand closely involved in the decertification debate. “During the first round of waivers and recertifications in April, they tried to slip it by the president as just a minor ‘technical’ issue that he didn’t have to worry about. The next time certification came up in July, they simply denied him any other option. This time they’re trying to entangle him in process.” (The 2015 law requires certification every 90 days.) To ensure that Trump certifies in October, the State Department had tried to push a diplomatic process to tighten aspects of the deal, in partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Europeans. But they predictably rebuffed State’s efforts, as did Iran. The point of that proposal, as with the latest initiative to “fix” the deal, is to tie Trump down in a process that will prevent him from decertifying—the first step in dismantling the deal entirely.

 

So what are the president’s options for October? He can still tear up the deal entirely, a scenario endorsed by John Bolton and previously promised by Trump. Another option would be to decertify Iran’s compliance with the deal but not reinstate sanctions, not yet anyway. “Trump can decertify on the condition that the JCPOA is not in the U.S. national interest,” says Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a leading expert on the deal. “Then it goes to Congress for debate for 60 days where the president needs to lay out a persuasive case that this is not the time for Congress to reinstate sanctions and abrogate the deal.”

 

According to Dubowitz, this tactic not only puts Iran on notice but gives our European allies plenty of advance warning to develop a common policy on how to fix the fatally flawed nuclear deal. The preference is do this together. But everyone needs to understand that the United States is prepared to reimpose sanctions instead of giving Iran patient pathways to nuclear weapons and ICBMs. “Europeans would prefer a common approach on Iran. They will always choose access to the $19 trillion U.S. economy over a $400 billion Iranian one,” says Dubowitz. “American coercive financial power, especially under Trump is real.” On the other hand, says Dubowitz, “if the president certifies [Iran’s compliance with] the JCPOA again next month, he’ll lose credibility—with Democrats, Europe, never mind Iran and other interested observers, most notably North Korea and Russia. If he does certify yet again, he will have an uphill battle going forward to demonstrate that he is prepared to walk away and use all instruments of power to pressure Iran and permanently cut off its pathways to atomic weapons.”

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Trump at UN: He’s back. (Video): Israpundit, Sept. 19, 2017—PRESIDENT TRUMP: Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, world leaders, and distinguished delegates: Welcome to New York. It is a profound honor to stand here in my home city, as a representative of the American people, to address the people of the world.

Unfashionable as it is to Say, Trump Spoke the Ugly Truth in his Refreshing UN Speech: Christie Blatchford, National Post, Sept. 22, 2017—Unfashionable and hazardous as it is to say this, I’m with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Neetanyahu, who tweeted on Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump’s inaugural speech to the United Nations, “In over 30 years in my experience with the UN, I never heard a bolder or more courageous speech.”

State Department Waging "Open War" on White House: Soeren Kern, Gatestone Institute, September 17, 2017—The U.S. State Department has backed away from a demand that Israel return $75 million in military aid which was allocated to it by the U.S. Congress. The repayment demand, championed by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, was described as an underhanded attempt by the State Department to derail a campaign pledge by U.S. President Donald J. Trump to improve relations with the Jewish state.

Perfect Partners: Reuel Marc Gerecht, Weekly Standard, Sept. 18, 2017—When he won election, Donald Trump—along with his national security adviser Michael Flynn, his all-purpose counselor Stephen Bannon, and, perhaps, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner—was fond of the idea that Russia and Iran, comrades-in-arms in Syria, weren’t natural partners.

 

 

 

 

 

IRAN CLOSELY WATCHES WEST’S RESPONSE TO NORTH KOREAN NUCLEAR THREAT

N. Korea and Iran: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 3, 2017— The situation playing out now with North Korea is a nightmare scenario of the dangers of nuclear proliferation.

Pyongyang's Playbook: Anthony Ruggiero, Weekly Standard, Sept. 2017— The crisis between the United States and North Korea shows no signs of abating.

What if There’s No Good Solution for North Korea’s Nukes?: Jonah Goldberg, New York Post, Sept. 1, 2017— The first step in thinking through a problem is to ask whether it’s a problem at all. Problems without solutions, the saying goes, aren’t problems. They’re facts.

Between Trump and Kim: Navigating Unpredictable Escalations: Louis René Beres, Israel Defense, Aug. 28, 2017 — In preparing for nuclear crisis bargaining with North Korea, Donald Trump will have little meaningful precedent upon which to rely.

 

On Topic Links

 

The United States’ North Korea Strategy Needs a Reality Check: Derek Burney & Fen Osler Hampson, Globe and Mail, Aug. 29, 2017

The Moral Answer to North Korea Threats: Take Them Out!: Ralph Peters, New York Post, Sept. 4, 2017

Iran’s New Defense Minister Is Committed to Iran’s Missile Program and the Export of the Revolution: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, BESA, Aug. 30, 2017

How to Get Out of the Iran Nuclear Deal: John R. Bolton, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 28, 2017

 

N. KOREA AND IRAN

Editorial

Jerusalem Post, Sept. 3, 2017

 

The situation playing out now with North Korea is a nightmare scenario of the dangers of nuclear proliferation. It offers a partial preview of the sorts of dangers the world would face if Iran ever obtained nuclear weapon capability. And it vindicates the use of preemptive military strikes to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of autocratic regimes, like the one that was launched – according to foreign news sources – by Israel a decade ago, on September 6, 2007.

 

On Sunday, North Korea, a country run by a madman, conducted its biggest nuclear test to date, setting off an explosion that Pyongyang said was caused by the detonation of an advanced hydrogen bomb. The tremor that resulted was said to be 10 times more powerful than the tremor picked up after the last test a year ago. Since 2006 North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests.

 

US President Donald Trump immediate reaction was registered, as is his custom, on his personal Twitter account. “North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success.” And, in a more strident message, Trump wrote: “South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!” French President Emmanuel Macron urged the UN Security Council to react quickly and decisively. “The international community must treat this new provocation with the utmost firmness, in order to bring North Korea to come back unconditionally to the path of dialogue and to proceed to the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of its nuclear and ballistic program,” he said. China, Russia and the International Atomic Energy Agency also weighed in.

 

But what can any of them do? No one wants to play chicken with Kim Jong Un and risk a nuclear Armageddon. Iran’s mullahs, meanwhile, are carefully monitoring the developments. True, North Korea and Iran are radically different culturally. Iran is governed by religious fanatics who look to usher in a messianic age ruled by Shi’ites. North Korea, in contrast, is run by a secular tyrant. However, North Korea offers Iran a test case in the wonders of obtaining nuclear weapons. And it offers the world a sharp rebuke for past inaction and a foreboding warning for the future. A small but aggressive nation with limited economic and military means has succeeded in leveraging its power to intimidate while remaining utterly immune to the influence of the international community – all accomplished by simply obtaining nuclear weapons.

 

Tehran has an opportunity to watch how the international community reacts – or rather fails to react – when Pyongyang fires a missile over Japan, as it did in August, or when it detonates a hydrogen bomb, as it did Sunday. Trump might tweet, Macron might threaten, but the real danger of sparking a nuclear war will have a chilling effect on rational decision-making with regard to using military options to stop Pyongyang.

 

The Islamic Republic’s leadership did not need Sunday’s hydrogen bomb test to become convinced of the merits of obtaining an atomic bomb. As a nation of Shi’ites surrounded by a Sunni majority, Tehran’s motivation from the outset in obtaining nuclear weapons was first and foremost an insurance policy against being bullying around. Libya’s lesson was not missed by the Iranians. The US’s toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime under the pretext that he had weapons of mass destruction scared Muammar Gaddafi into disarming his country from nuclear weapons. Less than a decade later he was overthrown.

 

We do not want to think about what would have happened if Syria had succeeded, with North Korea’s help, in obtaining nuclear weapons instead of reportedly being stopped by a preemptive attack. President Bashar Assad had no qualms about using chemical weapons against his own people. We don’t know what he would have done had he obtained nuclear weapons. There is a lesson to be learned from North Korea by the international community as well. Nothing came of the more than two years of negotiations with Pyongyang. No country stopped North Korea. The West ultimately accepted a North Korea with nuclear weapons capability. The same mistake must not be made again with Iran.

 

 

 

Contents

PYONGYANG'S PLAYBOOK

Anthony Ruggiero

Weekly Standard, Sept. 2017

 

The crisis between the United States and North Korea shows no signs of abating. Indeed, Pyongyang escalated its provocations last week, firing a missile over Japan on August 29. Critics of the president cite his brash approach to Pyongyang as a factor behind North Korea’s belligerency. Some also link Trump’s tough talk about the Iran nuclear deal. Why, they ask, would North Korea want to cooperate with a White House that insists on revisiting a nuclear deal the United States struck with Iran just two years ago? What they fail to note is the Kim regime has already violated two nuclear deals with the United States. North Korea, in fact, authored the playbook now being used by Iran to fleece the United States and our allies. And if the United States fails to neutralize the North Korean threat, Iran will notice how the United States buckles in the face of nuclear pressure.

 

Iran has already learned a number of damaging lessons from North Korea. First, cheating on nuclear deals is permitted. North Korea cheated twice, and we kept coming back for more. President Bill Clinton announced the 1994 Agreed Framework as a deal that would “freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program,” but Pyongyang violated the agreement when it started a covert uranium enrichment program. Washington tried another nuclear deal with the Kim regime, negotiating the 2005 Joint Statement, but the Kim regime built a nuclear reactor in Syria during the negotiations. The reactor was eventually destroyed by Israel in 2007. Normally that would have ended negotiations, proving that North Korea was not a serious interlocutor. Instead, the Kim regime was rewarded for its nuclear proliferation when the Bush administration removed North Korea from the state sponsors of terrorism list in 2008.

 

Iran’s cheating has focused on testing the will of the United States and its partners to hold Tehran to the negotiated limits in the 2015 nuclear deal. During the Obama administration, Tehran twice exceeded the cap on heavy water, and rather than punishing Iran, Washington and Moscow purchased the excess material from Iran. Iran is operating advanced centrifuges in excess of the limit of 10 it agreed to in the deal. And reports suggest the United Kingdom blocked an attempt by Iran to secretly purchase additional natural uranium. German intelligence reports showed that Iran attempted procurement of nuclear-related items, likely in violation of the agreement.

 

Second, limited nuclear deals can be exploited. The Agreed Framework and Joint Statement merely froze the North Korean nuclear programs (what was known of them), and in both instances Pyongyang was not required to dismantle its programs upfront. The result left North Korea with the infrastructure to produce fissile material (plutonium and highly enriched uranium) for the nuclear weapons that now threaten America’s allies and the U.S. homeland. Tehran adopted this very strategy when it negotiated a nuclear deal that allows it to keep its uranium enrichment program and continue research on advanced centrifuges. Iran can thus comply with the deal and emerge about a decade later with a production-scale enrichment facility and near-zero breakout time to develop nuclear weapons.

 

Third, you can also push the envelope on military and non-nuclear issues. North Korea tested a space launch vehicle (SLV) only four years after negotiating the 1994 Agreed Framework. Pyongyang has tested additional SLVs five times since 1998, placing satellites in orbit in 2012 and 2016. These SLVs provided key advancements Pyongyang used to improve intercontinental ballistic missiles that the Kim regime can use to deliver a nuclear weapon to the United States. North Korea has also tested the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile, which can reach Guam, at least five times this year, with a successful test in mid-May and again last week. The international community’s failure to respond meaningfully is viewed by North Korea as tacit approval.

 

Since the 2015 nuclear deal was signed, Tehran has reportedly conducted two SLV launches. It has launched as many as 14 ballistic missiles, many of which are “nuclear capable,” in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which codified the nuclear deal. Iran has undoubtedly noticed the U.N.’s lack of a firm response. The number of Iranian violations detailed by U.N. Secretary General António Guterres in a recent report is stunning. Two Iranian attempts to procure missile components, aircraft parts, and anti-tank missile components from Ukraine were thwarted over a period of just six months. How many others have gotten through? Iran also continues its shipment of arms to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, in violation of two Security Council resolutions.

 

Finally, insist that your military sites are off-limits. The first nuclear crisis in the mid-1990s started in part when North Korea refused a request by the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect a waste facility that Pyongyang said was a military site unrelated to its nuclear program. The Kim regime’s refusal set off a crisis that almost ended in a military conflict between the United States and North Korea. The crisis was resolved when the Clinton administration negotiated the ill-fated Agreed Framework. Tehran has learned from the North Korean experience to insist that military facilities are off-limits and hope the issue fades away. Before the 2015 nuclear deal was completed, Iran’s supreme leader declared “inspection of our military sites is out of the question and is one of our red lines.” Iran’s foreign minister boasted that he had maintained the red line in negotiations. Tehran has allowed only a cursory inspection of the Parchin military site where undeclared uranium particles were discovered, and the regime continues to deny more intrusive inspections.

 

While Iran has learned many lessons from North Korea, Washington should have learned a few, too. The most significant is that flawed, limited nuclear deals do not solve the strategic issues. The Trump administration must internalize this lesson if it is to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, which could in turn set off an arms race in the Middle East. Similarly, with North Korea, the president should insist on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The “echo chamber” supporting the 2015 Iran nuclear deal wants President Trump to believe that North Korea’s aggressive nuclear weapons and missile programs somehow demonstrate the need for Washington to remain committed to the agreement. They have it exactly wrong. Pyongyang’s path highlights how a limited nuclear deal can lead to a nuclear threat to the U.S. homeland. Another such threat, this time from Iran, could be only a matter of time.

 

 

Contents

WHAT IF THERE’S NO GOOD SOLUTION FOR NORTH KOREA’S NUKES?                                                         

Jonah Goldberg                     

New York Post, Sept. 1, 2017

 

The first step in thinking through a problem is to ask whether it’s a problem at all. Problems without solutions, the saying goes, aren’t problems. They’re facts. Some people argue that a nuclear-armed North Korea is less of a problem and more of a fact. Murderous doughboy Kim Jong Un will never give up his nuclear toys. And let’s face it: He would be stupid to. Perhaps the one true lesson of the last half-century of geopolitics is that the only way ambitious criminal regimes can protect themselves from outside threats is to have a nuclear deterrent. That was probably one of the last thoughts to go through Muammar Gadhafi’s mind before the Libyan dictator was killed by a U.N.-backed mob.

 

Advocates of more “strategic patience” argue that we should just accept a nuclear-armed North Korea and rely on the time-tested policy of nuclear deterrence. It’s not a bad argument, but it has problems. Nuclear weapons have uses other than simply laying waste to cities. The chief one, as I already mentioned, is they take regime change off the table forever. Hence North Korea’s primary demand: permanent recognition of the illegitimate regime’s legitimacy.

 

Nukes also provide all manner of maneuvering room. For instance, Iran, another country with a horrible government, wants a nuclear arsenal very badly. While the Israelis are worried — for understandable reasons — that the Iranians might one day use it against Israel, that’s not the only reason it would be bad for Iran to have the bomb. Iran wants to be a regional hegemon able to meddle far beyond its own borders. Having nukes makes that much easier because it raises the stakes of any military confrontation.

 

North Korea, the so-called Hermit Kingdom, does not have any territorial ambitions, nor is it much interested in interacting with the rest of the world. The regime’s existence depends on keeping the population ignorant of just how terrible they have it compared with nearly every other country in the world. But the North Korean regime is best understood as a monarchy that operates a criminal enterprise. It makes much of its money through counterfeiting, sex and drug trafficking, and numerous other schemes. Among its biggest profit centers is extortion from the “international community.” For 25 years it has been taking bribes to delay its nuclear program, as President Trump rightly noted on Twitter recently. And, obviously, the regime lied every time.

 

North Korea has also exported nuclear and missile technology to rogue nations such as Iran and Syria. Who really thinks that Kim will give up his business model? If it were easy, the wisest course of policy would be to decapitate the North Korean regime. But that wouldn’t be easy at all. A conventional war would be over relatively quickly — so long as China stayed out of it — but not quickly enough to prevent the destruction of South Korea’s capital and the deaths of millions of people, including thousands of Americans.

 

Another widely discussed solution would be to induce China to overthrow the regime and install a puppet government. China could probably do it relatively easily. It surely has lots of North Korean generals on the payroll already. But there are problems with this, too. China would demand a high price: total removal of American forces in South Korea and a tacit acknowledgement that China is the uncontested hegemon of the region. Such a “grand bargain would effectively transfer America’s dominance to China,” Hoover Institution scholar Michael Auslin writes in the Los Angeles Times. “No matter how the White House spun such a deal, world leaders would infer that the U.S. had gone hat in hand to China.” The impact on South Korean politics, never mind Japan’s, would be tumultuous at best.

 

So what to do? Well, the first thing is to recognize that there are no good solutions. But perhaps the least bad option would be to openly declare that America already considers the North Korean regime to be China’s puppet, and that North Korean misdeeds are really Chinese misdeeds. That would come at a price, too. But it would incentivize China either to rein in the North Korean regime or, eventually, get rid of it.

                                                                                   

 

Contents

BETWEEN TRUMP AND KIM:

NAVIGATING UNPREDICTABLE ESCALATIONS                                                           

Louis René Beres

           Israel Defense, Aug. 28, 2017

 

In preparing for nuclear crisis bargaining with North Korea, Donald Trump will have little meaningful precedent upon which to rely. When examined together with this president's plainly limited capacity to succeed in any such complex negotiations, the United States has much to consider. In essence, as Mr. Trump is apt to hand over any moment-by-moment crisis deliberations to his most senior military deputies, it could quickly fall upon "the generals" for rescue.

 

They too, however, would be guided by largely visceral or "seat-of-the-pants" bargaining calculations. This is not a per se criticism of the generals by any means, but merely an acknowledgment (1) that scientific probabilities must always be based upon the determinable frequency of pertinent past events; and (2) that there have been no pertinent past events. Whatever ultimately unravels between Washington and Pyongyang, therefore, these unique ventures in competitive risk-taking will be navigated in uncharted waters. Here, too, the experiential uniqueness would be mutual. But such mutuality would not necessarily prove in the best interests of the United States. This is because an overly confident Kim Jung-un and/or Donald Trump could quickly generate a more-or-less uncontrollable cycle of move and counter-move, one leading inexorably toward mutual catastrophe.

 

Mr. Trump and his counselors ought never forget that this sort of rapid cycle deterioration could be rendered even more precarious as a result of still unforeseen interactions between one side's fully executed moves, and the other's. In technical terms, such perilous interactions would be known formally as "synergies." Significantly, as there are no extant experts on nuclear war – not in the United States, not in North Korea, not in Israel, not anywhere on this beleaguered earth – there could even emerge a hideously complex "synergy of synergies." This conspicuously indecipherable sort of multilayered and overlapping intersections is what the computer scientists are apt to call "cascades."

 

All things considered, Mr. Trump should proceed in any impending North Korean crisis with exquisite prudence and abundant caution, recalling at absolutely every point the inherently limited body of available strategic thought. At the same time, he will need to bear in mind that while nuclear war avoidance is obviously most important, maintaining "escalation dominance" could also be thoroughly central to American national security. Success will require an almost unimaginably meticulous "balance," a delicate level of analytic equilibrium that has rarely been witnessed or perhaps even expected.

 

President Trump's strategic plan for North Korea ought never to be constructed ex nihilo – out of nothing. Yet it must, by definition, still be the result of assorted deductions or extrapolations from various pre-nuclear forms of conflict management. For these deductions and extrapolations to be up to the utterly herculean intellectual task at hand, they must accurately represent the determined outcome of expressly dialectical modes of military reasoning. Plato, in the middle dialogues, describes the dialectician as the one who knows best how to ask and then answer sequential questions. Going forward, US strategists and negotiators must use far more than "common sense." They must learn to become capable dialecticians.

 

In brief, this certifiably ancient method of seeking answers by correct reasoning remains best suited for the North Korean crisis now lying ahead. There is no elaborate computer program or algorithm that can possibly substitute for such indispensable reasoning. Still sorely needed to rescue the United States from certain corollary nuclear hazards are exceptionally imaginative human beings, most notably those thinkers who have been nurtured by impressively broad sectors of knowledge and learning, and not just by the latest in vogue statistical techniques or technologies.

 

In all expectedly nuanced deliberations with the North Koreans, America might do far better to rely, at least in part, on talented diplomats, poets, philosophers and mathematicians than exclusively career soldiers. To be sure, in the grievously measureless history of warfare, the military professional has occasionally made a few consequential mistakes. Looking ahead, we would be demanding that these trained strategists avoid major future errors in planning an altogether unique form of warfare, one for which their training has been largely extraneous, and with which they could literally have had no tangible acquaintance.

 

For the United States, the North Korea crisis, whether protracted or episodic, will immediately be one of "mind over mind," and not just "fire and fury." During this daunting intellectual struggle, each side, as long as it remains recognizably rational, will be seeking "escalation dominance" without simultaneously endangering its own national survival. Significantly, if the American side should sometime calculate that its North Korean counterpart is not fully rational, the apparent incentives to undertake far-reaching military preemptions could then become overwhelming…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

The United States’ North Korea Strategy Needs a Reality Check: Derek Burney & Fen Osler Hampson, Globe and Mail, Aug. 29, 2017—Kim Jong-un has once again called U.S. President Donald Trump's bluff, launching a ballistic missile across northern Japan on a flight exceeding 2,700 kilometres and reaching an altitude of 550 km.

The Moral Answer to North Korea Threats: Take Them Out!: Ralph Peters, New York Post, Sept. 4, 2017—Better a million dead North Koreans than a thousand dead Americans. The fundamental reason our government exists is to protect our people and our territory. Everything else is a grace note. And the words we never should hear in regard to North Korea’s nuclear threats are “We should’ve done something.”

Iran’s New Defense Minister Is Committed to Iran’s Missile Program and the Export of the Revolution: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, BESA, Aug. 30, 2017—The new Iranian defense minister, Brigadier General Amir Hatami, reemphasized immediately upon taking office on August 20, 2017 – and in honor of National Defense Industry Day – the Defense Ministry’s commitment to strongly support the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), its commander Qasem Soleimani, and the “resistance front.”

How to Get Out of the Iran Nuclear Deal: John R. Bolton, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 28, 2017—Although candidate Donald Trump repeatedly criticized Barack Obama's Iran nuclear agreement, his administration has twice decided to remain in the deal. It so certified to Congress, most recently in July, as required by law. Before the second certification, Trump asked repeatedly for alternatives to acquiescing yet again in a policy he clearly abhorred.

 

 

 

 

IRAN’S NUCLEAR DRIVE AND “EXTERNAL ADVENTURISM” ENDANGER ISRAEL & THE WORLD

Bring Back Containment: Robert Joseph, Weekly Standard, Aug. 21, 2017 — The Trump administration is conducting a comprehensive review of U.S. policy toward Iran.

It’s Time to Take on the Iran-North Korea Nuke Alliance: Benny Avni, New York Post, Aug. 1, 2017— Iran or North Korea? Which threat should America confront first?

Amid New US Sanctions, How Much of Iran’s Nuclear Deal Relief Funds Terrorism?: Ariel Ben Solomon, JNS, Aug. 8, 2017— As the Trump administration ramps up sanctions against Iran, how much of Iran’s sanctions relief from the nuclear deal of 2015 is funding the Islamic Republic’s support for sectarian conflict and terrorism across the Middle East?

Iran Is Using Syria to Advance Toward the Mediterranean: Naftali Bennett, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 9, 2017 — Hezbollah announced last month that it had captured the Syrian-Lebanese border area of Juroud Arsal from ISIS forces.

 

On Topic Links

 

Top Israeli, American Experts Concerned About North Korean Nuclear Precedent for Iran: Ariel Ben Solomon, JNS, Aug. 14, 2017

The Military Options for North Korea: John R. Bolton, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 3, 2017

Danny Glaser: Iran and Hamas are United in Their Desire to Wreak Havoc in the Region: Joseph Braude, Huffington Post, Aug. 15, 2017

The Iranian Express: Emanuele Ottolenghi, Weekly Standard, July 31, 2017

 

 

 

BRING BACK CONTAINMENT

Robert Joseph

Weekly Standard, Aug. 21, 2017

 

The Trump administration is conducting a comprehensive review of U.S. policy toward Iran. There is no doubt top national security officials view the Islamic Republic as a major threat, both in terms of regional instability and proliferation. This recognition represents the principal difference from the previous administration and a welcome step forward. One likely outcome will be a stronger U.S.-led effort to counter Iran’s expanding presence, particularly in Syria and Iraq. The formation of an Arab alliance against Islamic terrorism, announced when Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia, signaled a move toward a more effective regional stance.

 

But there is little to suggest that, beyond an attempt to roll back Tehran’s external adventurism, there will be a fundamental change in U.S. policy. Press reports indicate that the usual interagency battle lines are being drawn—between those who advocate regime change and those who would continue past policies.

 

The main indicator of the direction of Iran policy will be the president’s decision on the future of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Candidate Trump’s stance on the nuclear deal during the campaign was clear: The JCPOA was a calamity for American security interests. Trump called it the worst agreement ever negotiated and declared in the spring of 2016: “My number-one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.”

 

But much seems to have changed since he took office. His secretaries of state and defense have both reportedly urged him to stick with the deal—while admitting Iran remains the chief sponsor of international terrorism and the greatest threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East. Most telling are the administration’s two declarations to Congress that Iran is in compliance with the agreement. That might be true only in a very narrow, technical sense. Iran may now be complying with those terms of the agreement monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency, but that does not mean Tehran has stopped work on nuclear weapons. Just recall that the potential military activities identified by the IAEA in November 2011 were swept under the rug and that the supreme leader has explicitly ruled out inspections of the facilities that were the suspected sites of many of those activities.

 

Iran continues aggressively to expand its offensive ballistic missile force, already the largest and most dangerous in the region. The revelations recently made public by National Council of Resistance of Iran make clear that the country’s weapons programs, both nuclear and missile, are alive and well and moving forward. Consistent with this conclusion, U.S. officials have assessed that Iran has an active intercontinental ballistic missile program, for which the only purpose is to deliver a nuclear warhead. A number of arguments for and against staying in the nuclear agreement are presumably being considered in the administration review. The two most often heard in favor of remaining are:

 

1: The agreement provides some transparency to Iran’s nuclear program and slows it at least temporarily. Better to have 5,000 centrifuges spinning than 12,000 or 19,000. Better to have quantitative and qualitative limits on low-enriched uranium and limits on heavy water and the Arak reactor than not. But the issue is how meaningful these limits are in the broader context of Iran’s nuclear ambitions and at what cost. 2: Leaving will lead to widespread criticism from the other parties to the deal. John Kerry often raised the specter of the United States being isolated if Washington did not go forward with the agreement.

 

As for arguments in favor of withdrawal, five stand out: 1: The JCPOA does not prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons—ostensibly its intended purpose. Even defenders of the agreement acknowledge that it represents—at best—a mere pause in that pursuit and that Iran retains the capacity to sneak out or break out of the agreement and possess a nuclear weapon in a matter of months or even weeks. Iran’s new generation of advanced centrifuge designs will permit it an almost immediate breakout capacity even before the terms of the JCPOA expire. After that time, as President Obama acknowledged, the breakout period would be essentially “zero.”

 

2: The flawed verification provisions of the JCPOA mean that we cannot verify that Iran has stopped work on nuclear weapon design. If Tehran does not have a covert program today, it would be the first time in decades. 3: The premise of the deal is demonstratively false. Far from leading to a more moderate Iran, the agreement has resulted in increased funding of international terrorism and a further expansion of Iran’s external interventions. The irony is that the misguided policies of the Obama administration have only strengthened the regime in Tehran, providing it with the means to advance its proliferation programs, foment disorder in neighboring countries, and brutalize its own people—the first and foremost victims of the regime.

4: Staying in the agreement undermines the U.S. ability to contain the broader threat by providing legitimacy to an illegitimate regime and strengthening the Iranian economy and thereby the regime. This undercuts the regional coalition to roll back Iranian adventurism and military aggression. 5: The JCPOA—in the form of an executive agreement reinforced by a U.N. Security Council resolution—usurped the constitutional prerogative of the Senate, which, under Article II, Section 2, has the power and responsibility to advise and consent on all treaties. President Obama deliberately chose not to pursue a treaty because he knew the Senate would reject it.

 

President Trump will make the final decision on the nuclear agreement. If he takes the country out, it will almost certainly be against the advice of his cabinet members and the institutional national security complex in and out of government. But this would nevertheless be the right decision: It is not in the U.S. interest to remain in the JCPOA…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    

 

 

Contents

IT’S TIME TO TAKE ON THE IRAN-NORTH KOREA NUKE ALLIANCE

Benny Avni

New York Post, Aug. 1, 2017

 

Iran or North Korea? Which threat should America confront first? Here’s a thought: both. Save for the weather, North Korea would’ve tested an intercontinental ballistic missile last Thursday, at almost the same time as Iran did. It missed the date, coinciding with the anniversary of the 1953 armistice pact that ended the Korean War, likely thanks to a rain storm. Nerveless, it tested the next day, creating a Mideast-East Asian stereo boom heard around the world.

 

American experts no longer think it’ll take North Korea years to be able to hit the continental United States. Most watchers now expect it sometime next year. So President Trump has drawn the short straw. Three predecessors failed to stop the Kim regime’s nuclear and missile advances. If he wants to stop the Norks, Trump has no choice but to act — and all of his options are bad.

 

Meanwhile, much of President Barack Obama’s Iran deal is expected to unravel during Trump’s tenure as well. What can he do? Americans and others have long observed cooperation between these two rogue regimes. You don’t need to be a trained missile expert to notice the design similarities between North Korea’s home-built Rodong and its Iranian clone, the Shahab 3. Or the Rodong B and Shahab 4. Iranian nuclear scientists were present at Pyongyang’s first nuclear test. Iran-allied Syria modeled its nuclear plant (later eliminated by Israel) on a similar North Korean one. Rather than violating the Obama deal by experimenting at home, Iran can advance its nuclear program by observing North Korea’s and contributing to its progress.

 

The mullahs have what Kim Jong-un needs most: cash. Pyongyang’s only foreign-currency-worthy export is weapons and knowing how to build and use them, which Iran craves. It’s a match made in hell. So why are countries threatened by North Korea, like Japan, so eager to do business with Iran? After all, don’t the mullahs enable the North’s quest to develop the missiles that get fired near Japan? “There’s no proof” of such cooperation, Tokyo officials said when I asked them about it on a recent trip to Japan.

 

They’re right. For decades, America shied away from revealing what the intelligence community knew about the Tehran-Pyongyang love affair because we dreamed of diplomatic breakthroughs on both fronts (and feared revealing spy methods). After the Sunday ICBM test, such timidity is no longer an option. America’s UN Ambassador Nikki Haley tweeted Sunday that “China is aware they must act” and that Japan and South Korea must increase pressure. It’s “not only a US problem” but one that requires an international solution.

 

Yet, an international solution has eluded Haley since July 4, the last time North Korea launched a missile designed to reach the continental US. Russian diplomats have ridiculously argued there’s no proof this was an ICBM, therefore no need to increase sanctions. Such obfuscation will likely continue. Russia and China will block attempts to corner Kim and his henchmen — especially now that administration officials like CIA Director Mike Pompeo are starting to push the idea of toppling the Kim regime, which both Beijing and Moscow oppose.

 

So one action the United States can take would be to put forth a UN resolution naming and sanctioning persons and entities involved in the Iran-North Korea arms cooperation. Western diplomats tell me it likely won’t pass. Yet they’re intrigued by publicly airing, Adlai Stevenson-like, America’s intel on Iran-Nork cooperation. Iran’s missile program was, bizarrely, left out of Obama’s nuclear deal. Revealing the Tehran-Pyongyang nexus might convince allies wobbly about Tehran’s violations that the mullahs’ threat is global. It could also start the process of plugging a major cash source for the Kim regime. And then, there’s action beyond the United Nations: Obama rarely used the Proliferation Security Initiative, a treaty signed by 105 countries that allows search and seizure of ships carrying illicit arms. Expose the Iran-North Korea connection, then use PSI to disrupt it, with our allies’ help.

 

We’ve long thought of Iran and North Korea as separate problems. Time for a holistic approach that will give a jolt to the diplomatic stalemate. US flights over South Korean skies are helping. Talking publicly about adding Japan and South Korea to the global nuclear club may scare China into action. So will blacklisting companies that do business with Kim Jong-un. Regime change should be the ultimate target. But a change in diplomatic strategy is needed too, and fast. Time to expose what everyone knows, but no one ever says out loud: Kim and the mullahs are BFFs.

                                                                       

 

Contents

AMID NEW US SANCTIONS, HOW MUCH OF IRAN’S

NUCLEAR DEAL RELIEF FUNDS TERRORISM?

                                                 Ariel Ben Solomon    

                                                          JNS, Aug. 8, 2017

 

As the Trump administration ramps up sanctions against Iran, how much of Iran’s sanctions relief from the nuclear deal of 2015 is funding the Islamic Republic’s support for sectarian conflict and terrorism across the Middle East? President Donald Trump last week imposed new sanctions against Iran over its ballistic missile program and human rights violations. The sanctions come amid Iran’s reported fueling of the recent Temple Mount crisis and its agreement to bolster relations with the Hamas terror group.

 

While Iran and its terror proxy Hezbollah continue to back President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the Syrian Civil War, Russia’s military support for Assad is far more important for Iran than the limited economic benefits the Iranians have gained from sanctions relief and trade deals since the nuclear agreement, said Meir Javedanfar, a lecturer on Iranian politics at Israel’s IDC Herzliya research college. “I think what has been crucial for the expansion of Iran’s role in Syria, more than anything, has been the air support [Assad] has received from Russian President Vladimir Putin,” Javedanfar told JNS.org.

 

Javedanfar estimated that Iran has received less than $20 billion of the $150 billion in sanctions relief it secured in the nuclear deal, which was brokered by the former Obama administration and other world powers. Even if all of the sanctions relief had been released immediately after the nuclear deal was reached, it “wouldn’t have been enough to save Syria,” said Javedanfar.

 

While the released funds have aided the Iranian regime, Javedanfar said President Hassan Rouhani’s government is plagued by around $100 billion in debt carried over from former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s tenure. The new sanctions leveled by the Trump administration will hamper Rouhani’s ability to attract foreign investment, but hardline entities such as Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) militia “will be happy since less economic growth will give them more ammunition against the government,” he said. “The IRGC is responsible for these additional sanctions that were imposed after Iran fired a ballistic missile with a banner calling for Israel’s destruction,” said Javedanfar, who added, “The real intention of this launch, in practice, was to target Rouhani’s economic achievements.”

 

Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, told JNS.org it remains unclear how much of Iran’s sanctions relief funds have been diverted to causes such as Palestinian terrorism. But he said that “sanctions relief coupled with the campaign to ‘normalize’ Iran has enabled its fighters, money and weapons to go largely unchecked throughout the region.” The Trump administration’s new sanctions are part of “a desperately needed strategy, since for over a decade Iran’s regional ambitions and military programs took a back seat to the nuclear issue,” said Taleblu.

 

Ronen A. Cohen, an Iran expert and the chair of the Department of Middle East Studies at Israel’s Ariel University, disputes that Iran is using funds from sanctions relief and increased business ties with the West to support terrorism. “Iran will promote terror with or without the sanctions,” Cohen asserted, adding that since 2015, the country has spent less on regional terrorism as part of Rouhani’s strategy to strengthen the Iranian economy through trade. “Iran has a pragmatic strategy in the Middle East and will invest money only where it gains something in return, irrespective of sanctions,” he said.

 

Israel Hayom last week quoted a Palestinian Authority security official as claiming that Iran invested “millions of shekels” to inflame the tensions surrounding the Temple Mount. According to the report, tens of thousands of Muslim protesters received prepackaged meals along with notes in each one citing a quote attributed to 1979 Iranian Revolution leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini: “With the help of Allah, Palestine will be liberated! Jerusalem is ours.”

 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed his country’s support for the Palestinians amid the Temple Mount tensions, and more recently, Hamas said Aug. 7 that it has reached an agreement to improve relations with Iran. Taleblu said Iran’s Shi’a regime “uses the Palestinian issue to drive a wedge between the Arab world and Israel, as well as to mask its ethno-sectarian differences with its Sunni Arab neighbors and bolster its Islamist standing in the region.”

 

Iran has championed the Palestinian cause since its inception, and an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal “would rob Tehran of that card and render naked its regional aspirations,” said Taleblu. “Iran’s longstanding provision of money and weapons to Palestinian terror groups tells you one thing: Iran has more to gain from perpetual conflict in the Levant and eastern Mediterranean than peace,” he said.

 

IDC Herzliya’s Javedanfar said he has seen no real evidence that Iran was behind the recent tensions in Jerusalem. Rather, he said, Iran exaggerated its role in the Temple Mount crisis since “it feels isolated in the region because of its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and his atrocities against Sunni Muslims.” Iran’s claims regarding the Temple Mount, Javedanfar said, show “how desperate the Iranian regime has become.”                                                        

 

Contents

                

IRAN IS USING SYRIA TO ADVANCE TOWARD THE MEDITERRANEAN                      

Naftali Bennett                                                                                 

Wall Street Journal, Aug. 9, 2017

 

Hezbollah announced last month that it had captured the Syrian-Lebanese border area of Juroud Arsal from ISIS forces. Far from being a minor development in a violent and unstable region, this marks another Iranian success in its quest for power and dominance across the Middle East.

 

Since its 1979 revolution, Iran has sought to become a dominant world power capable of imposing Islamic rule on as many people as possible. The Iranian regime finances and supports armed militias in other countries and is the world’s top exporter of terror. Hundreds if not thousands of Americans have died at the hands of Iran’s terrorist proxies. An essential part of Tehran’s grand strategy is to control a land corridor from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea. Under the cover of Syria’s bloody civil war, Hezbollah is helping to build such a highway. Hezbollah, trained and supported by Tehran, is classified as a terror group by the U.S., France and the Arab League, among others.

 

Its effort endangers the entire Western world. Controlling this corridor would directly connect Iran with its proxies in Syria and Lebanon, allowing it to transfer advanced weapons cheaply and quickly. The highway would let Iran build its military presence on the Mediterranean, bringing much of Europe into the range of its air force, navy and midrange missiles. Iran could even build arms factories outside its borders. Iranian apologists frame Hezbollah’s capture of the border area as a victory over ISIS, as if the U.S.-led coalition ought to be cheering. ISIS needs to be stopped, but Iran is a far greater problem in the long run. Tehran shouldn’t be mistaken for part of the solution.

 

As Syria disintegrated through civil war, Iran acted swiftly. It broke international law and forcefully expelled the Sunni population and replaced it with Shiites. This changed the local demography to support Tehran’s planned land corridor through Syria and Iraq. Iran also sent its generals to train Bashar Assad’s troops. Hezbollah has effectively morphed from a terror group into a division of the Iranian army, working for Tehran not only in Lebanon and Syria, but also in Yemen and Iraq.

 

In the game of chess that Syria has become, Western leaders are so focused on the knight attacking their pawns they cannot see the queen maneuvering to defeat them. Mistaking ISIS as the most serious threat has allowed Iran to move its pieces forward and gain better position. The nuclear deal Iran signed in 2015 demonstrates Tehran’s patience, as it temporarily slows the country’s preparations to acquire nuclear weapons without stopping them over the long term.

 

I and others are concerned by the cease-fire in southern Syria brokered by the U.S., Russia and Jordan last month. With American and allied forces present in the north, Iran has focused its efforts on the south. The hiatus from violence in that region only gives Tehran another piece of territory in its bid to build a highway to the coast. It will take time and patience to stop Iran. The international community needs to defeat Tehran wherever its forces advance: in cyberspace, on the battlefields of Yemen and Iraq, and in advanced-weapons laboratories. This effort will be both public and covert, economic and technological. If it results in direct military confrontation, Iran’s foes must be ready to win there too.

 

Iran must be made to pay a price every day its soldiers remain on Syrian soil helping the Assad regime kill its own people. Tehran’s leaders must know that every violation of the nuclear deal will trigger harsh sanctions. They cannot direct terror attacks in Europe, Asia and America and expect the world to ignore their actions.

 

There are many possible courses of action against Iran. Yet the free world—led by the U.S.—has yet to take the first and most important step: declaring that it cannot abide an Iranian empire from the Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea.

 

                                   

Contents

On Topic Links

 

Top Israeli, American Experts Concerned About North Korean Nuclear Precedent for Iran: Ariel Ben Solomon, JNS, Aug. 14, 2017—Several top Israeli and American experts on nuclear proliferation and Iran say the failure to successfully deal with North Korea sets a precedent for a similar result with the Islamic Republic.

The Military Options for North Korea: John R. Bolton, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 3, 2017—North Korea test-launched on Friday its first ballistic missile potentially capable of hitting America's East Coast. It thereby proved the failure of 25 years of U.S. nonproliferation policy. A single-minded rogue state can pocket diplomatic concessions and withstand sustained economic sanctions to build deliverable nuclear weapons. It is past time for Washington to bury this ineffective "carrots and sticks" approach.

Danny Glaser: Iran and Hamas are United in Their Desire to Wreak Havoc in the Region: Joseph Braude, Huffington Post, Aug. 15, 2017—Iran supports terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East and beyond. Iran has long had a foreign policy and a regional policy based on trying to upend the regional order.

The Iranian Express: Emanuele Ottolenghi, Weekly Standard, July 31, 2017—On November 30, 2016, Syria watcher Tobias Schneider tweeted out pictures of an Iraqi Shia militiaman boarding an Iranian commercial airliner en route to Damascus.

 

IRAN, EMPOWERED BY NUCLEAR DEAL, SEEKS DESTRUCTION OF ISRAEL & M.E. HEGEMONY

 

 

What North Korea Should Teach Us About Iran: Alan Dershowitz, Washington Examiner, Apr. 19, 2017 — We failed to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons.

Iran Is a Bigger Threat Than Syria and North Korea Combined: Michael Oren, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 14, 2017 — The U.S. has signed agreements with three rogue regimes strictly limiting their unconventional military capacities.

It’s Time to Ramp Up the Pressure on Iran — It’s More Fragile Than We Think: Reuel Gerecht & Ray Takeyh, National Post, Apr. 11, 2017 — A consensus has developed in Washington for some “push back” against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Next Stop for Iran: Bahrain: Eric R. Mandel, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 19, 2017 — Ever since the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, aka “the Iran Deal”) was agreed to in the summer of 2015, Iran has become empowered both militarily and economically.

 

On Topic Links

 

Tillerson: An 'Unchecked Iran' Could Follow Same Path as North Korea: Jerusalem Post, Apr. 20, 2017

Is Iran Pushing the Envelope on Its Nuclear Deal?: Jenna Lifhits, Weekly Standard, Apr. 18, 2017

It’s Time to Name and Sanction Iran’s Terrorists: John Bolton, New York Post, Apr. 16, 2017

Trump Turns the Screws on Iran's Mullahs: Reza Shafiee, American Thinker, Apr. 18, 2017

 

WHAT NORTH KOREA SHOULD TEACH US ABOUT IRAN                                                

Alan Dershowitz                                                  

Washington Examiner, Apr. 19, 2017

 

We failed to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. As a result, our options to stop them from developing a delivery system capable of reaching our shores are severely limited. The hard lesson from our failure to stop North Korea before they became a nuclear power is that we must stop Iran from ever developing or acquiring a nuclear arsenal. A nuclear Iran would be far more dangerous to American interests than a nuclear North Korea. Iran already has missiles capable of reaching numerous American allies. They are in the process of upgrading them and making them capable of delivering a nuclear payload to our shores. Its fundamentalist religious leaders would be willing to sacrifice millions of Iranians to destroy the "Big Satan" (United States) or the "Little Satan" (Israel).

 

The late "moderate" leader Hashemi Rafsanjani once told an American journalist that if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons, they "would kill as many as five million Jews," and that if Israel retaliated, they would kill fifteen million Iranians, which would be "a small sacrifice from among the billion Muslims in the world." He concluded that "it is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality." Recall that the Iranian mullahs were willing to sacrifice thousands of "child soldiers" in their futile war with Iraq. There is nothing more dangerous than a "suicide regime" armed with nuclear weapons.

 

The deal signed by Iran in 2015 postpones Iran's quest for a nuclear arsenal, but it doesn't prevent it, despite Iran's unequivocal statement in the preamble to the agreement that "Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire nuclear weapons." Recall that North Korea provided similar assurances to the Clinton administration back in 1994, only to break them several years later — with no real consequences. The Iranian mullahs apparently regard their reaffirmation as merely hortatory and not legally binding. The body of the agreement itself — the portion Iran believes is legally binding — does not preclude Iran from developing nuclear weapons after a certain time, variously estimated as between 10 to 15 years from the signing of the agreement. Nor does it prevent Iran from perfecting its delivery systems, including nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States.

 

If we are not to make the same mistake with Iran that we made with North Korea, we must do something now, before Iran secures a weapon, to deter the mullahs from becoming a nuclear power, over which we would have little or no leverage. Congress should now enact legislation declaring that Iran's reaffirmation that it will never "develop or acquire nuclear weapons" is an integral part of the agreement and represents the policy of the United States. It is too late to change the words of the deal, but it is not too late for Congress to insist that Iran comply fully with all of its provisions, even those in the preamble.

 

In order to ensure that the entirety of the agreement is carried out, including that reaffirmation, Congress should adopt the proposal made by Thomas L. Friedman on July 22, 2015 and by myself on Sept. 5, 2013. To quote Friedman: "Congress should pass a resolution authorizing this and future presidents to use force to prevent Iran from ever becoming a nuclear weapons state … Iran must know now that the U.S. president is authorized to destroy – without warning or negotiation – any attempt by Tehran to build a bomb."

 

I put it similarly: Congress should authorize the president "to take military action against Iran's nuclear weapon's program if it were to cross the red lines …" The benefits of enacting such legislation are clear: The law would underline the centrality to the deal of Iran's reaffirmation never to acquire nuclear weapons, and would provide both a deterrent against Iran violating its reaffirmation and an enforcement authorization in the event it does.

 

A law based on these two elements — adopting Iran's reaffirmation as the official American policy and authorizing a preventive military strike if Iran tried to obtain nuclear weapons — may be an alternative we can live with. But without such an alternative, the deal as currently interpreted by Iran will not prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. In all probability, it would merely postpone that catastrophe for about a decade while legitimating its occurrence. This is not an outcome we can live with, as evidenced by the crisis we are now confronting with North Korea. So let us learn from our mistake and not repeat it with Iran

 

                                                                           

Contents   

                     

IRAN IS A BIGGER THREAT THAN SYRIA AND NORTH KOREA COMBINED

Michael Oren                                                                

Wall Street Journal, Apr. 14, 2017

 

The U.S. has signed agreements with three rogue regimes strictly limiting their unconventional military capacities. Two of those regimes—Syria and North Korea—brazenly violated the agreements, provoking game-changing responses from President Trump. But the third agreement—with Iran—is so inherently flawed that Tehran doesn’t even have to break it. Honoring it will be enough to endanger millions of lives.

 

The framework agreements with North Korea and Syria, concluded respectively in 1994 and 2013, were similar in many ways. Both recognized that the regimes already possessed weapons of mass destruction or at least the means to produce them. Both assumed that the regimes would surrender their arsenals under an international treaty and open their facilities to inspectors. And both believed that these repressive states, if properly engaged, could be brought into the community of nations.

 

All those assumptions were wrong. After withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Pyongyang tested five atomic weapons and developed intercontinental missiles capable of carrying them. Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, less than a year after signing the framework, reverted to gassing his own people. Bolstered by the inaction of the U.S. and backed by other powers, North Korea and Syria broke their commitments with impunity.

 

Or so it seemed. By ordering a Tomahawk missile attack on a Syrian air base, and a U.S. Navy strike force to patrol near North Korea’s coast, the Trump administration has upheld the frameworks and placed their violators on notice. This reassertion of power is welcomed by all of America’s allies, Israel among them. But for us, the most dangerous agreement of all is the one that may never need military enforcement. For us, the existential threat looms in a decade, when the agreement with Iran expires.

 

Like the frameworks with North Korea and Syria, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action of 2015 assumed that Iran would fulfill its obligations and open its facilities to inspectors. The JCPOA assumed that Iran would moderate its behavior and join the international community. Yet unlike its North Korean and Syrian allies, Iran was the largest state sponsor of terror and openly vowed to destroy another state—Israel. Unlike them, Iran systematically lied about its unconventional weapons program for 30 years. And unlike Damascus and Pyongyang, which are permanently barred from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, Tehran can look forward to building them swiftly and legitimately in the late 2020s, once the JCPOA expires.

 

This, for Israel and our neighboring Sunni states, is the appalling flaw of the JCPOA. The regime most committed to our destruction has been granted a free pass to develop military nuclear capabilities. Iran could follow the Syrian and North Korean examples and cheat. Or, while enjoying hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions relief, it can adhere to the agreement and deactivate parts of its nuclear facilities rather than dismantle them. It can develop new technologies for producing atomic bombs while testing intercontinental ballistic missiles. It can continue massacring Syrians, Iraqis and Yemenis, and bankrolling Hamas and Hezbollah. The JCPOA enables Iran to do all that merely by complying.

 

A nuclear-armed Iran would be as dangerous as “50 North Koreas,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the U.N. in 2013, and Iran is certainly many times more dangerous than Syria. Yet Iran alone has been granted immunity for butchering civilians and threatening genocide. Iran alone has been guaranteed a future nuclear capability. And the Iranian regime—which brutally crushed a popular uprising in 2009—has amassed a million-man force to suppress any future opposition. Rather than moderating, the current regime promises to be more radical yet in another 10 years.

 

How can the U.S. and its allies pre-empt catastrophe? Many steps are possible, but they begin with penalizing Iran for the conventions it already violates, such as U.N. restrictions on missile development. The remaining American sanctions on Iran must stay staunchly in place and Congress must pass further punitive legislation. Above all, a strong link must be established between the JCPOA and Iran’s support for terror, its pledges to annihilate Israel and overthrow pro-American Arab governments, and its complicity in massacres. As long as the ayatollahs oppress their own population and export their tyranny abroad, no restrictions on their nuclear program can ever be allowed to expire. In responding forcibly to North Korean and Syrian outrages, President Trump has made a major step toward restoring America’s deterrence power. His determination to redress the flaws in the JCPOA and to stand up to Iran will greatly accelerate that process. The U.S., Israel and the world will all be safer.                                  

 

 

Contents                                                                                

IT’S TIME TO RAMP UP THE PRESSURE ON IRAN —                                                          

IT’S MORE FRAGILE THAN WE THINK                                                                         

Reuel Gerecht & Ray Takeyh                                                                                         

National Post, Apr. 11, 2017

 

A consensus has developed in Washington for some “push back” against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Democrats and Republicans would be well-advised to learn from the Cold War: don’t compromise the battle on the ground for fear of compromising arms control. We should contain and roll back Iran and its growing army of proxy militias. We should target the clerical regime’s Achilles’ heel — popular disgust with theocracy. Human rights ought to be a priority for American Iran policy.

 

The Green Revolt, which erupted in Iran in 2009 after a disputed presidential election, may be a faded memory for many in Washington, but it continues to haunt Iran. Contrary to the accepted wisdom of the Obama administration, the disturbances of that summer posed a serious threat to the Islamist order. In a speech in 2013, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei admitted that the Green Movement brought the regime to the “edge of the cliff.” Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, has similarly described the post-election period as a “greater danger for the system and the Islamic revolution” than the Iran-Iraq War. “We went to the brink of overthrow in this sedition,” Jafari stated. The regime’s security services proved unreliable. Dissension spread even within the guards. Khamenei had to dismiss several commanders.

The ruling elite, which had perfected the strategy of staging large pro-regime demonstrations, dared not bring its supporters out for more than six months. Every commemoration day became an occasion for protest.

 

The Green Movement has altered the relationship between state and society. The Islamic Republic of Iran was never a routine authoritarian regime as it offered the people a voice through controlled elections. The possibility of reform through the ballot box offered a safety valve to the ruling elite. Enterprising intellectuals and activists clung to the hope for peaceful electoral change, even after the regime crushed the Second of Khordad Movement, imprisoning, torturing and exiling many of those who’d made a cheerful, mildly reformist cleric, Mohammad Khatami, president in 1997. But the repression that followed the 2009 election trashed the regime’s remaining legitimacy, brutalizing beyond repair the “loyal opposition” — the first- and second-generation revolutionaries who had cherished the promise of a less authoritarian Islamic state.

 

The regime’s survival is now dependent on unsteady security services and the power of patronage, which ebbs and flows with the price of oil. Iran’s continuing stage-managed elections and colourless apparatchiks, including President Hassan Rouhani, a founding father of the feared intelligence ministry who mimics reformist slogans, have failed to convince much less inspire. Today, the Islamist regime resembles the Soviet Union of the 1970s — an exhausted entity incapable of reforming itself while drowning in corruption and bent on costly imperialism.

 

If Washington were serious about doing to Iran what it helped to do to the U.S.S.R, it would seek to weaken the theocracy by pressing it on all fronts. A crippling sanctions regime that punishes the regime for its human-rights abuses is a necessity. Such a move would not just impose penalties on Tehran for violating international norms but send a signal to the Iranian people that the United States stands behind their aspirations. American officials should insist on the release of all those languishing in prison since the Green Revolt. This list must include the leaders of that movement, Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who have been confined to house arrest despite reports of poor health. Barack Obama never once spoke about these men. Donald Trump should not make the same mistake.

 

The Trump administration should also focus the bully pulpit on those who’ve fallen victim to the crackdown that occurred after the nuclear deal was signed. Obama completely ignored these people, too, who were imprisoned to demonstrate that the atomic accord wasn’t going to lead to greater openness and reform. Ever fearful of interfering in Muslim lands, seemingly ashamed of American support to the shah and exclusively focused on nuclear diplomacy, Obama refused to view Iranian dissidents with the same respect the United States once gave to those who’d opposed the Soviet Union.

 

The United States actually has the high ground against the mullahs. Our resources dwarf theirs. Our self-doubt is nothing compared with the insecurity that Khamenei has to suppress with the Revolutionary Guards. It is way past time for Washington to stoke the volcano under Tehran and to challenge the regime on the limes of its Shiite empire.

 

This will be costly and will entail the use of more American troops in both Syria and Iraq. But if we don’t do this, we will not see an end to the sectarian warfare that nurtures jihadists. We will be counting down the clock on the nuclear accord, waiting for advanced centrifuges to come on line. As with the Soviet Union vs. Ronald Reagan, to confront American resolution, the mullahs will have to pour money into their foreign ventures or suffer humiliating retreat. And they will have to keep their eye on the home front, anxiously awaiting another popular rebellion. Many in Washington in 1980 thought the Soviet Union was far from the dustbin. We would do well not to believe that the mullahs have a more secure dispensation.         

 

 

Contents

Eric R. Mandel                                                    

Jerusalem Post, Apr. 19, 2017

 

Ever since the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, aka “the Iran Deal”) was agreed to in the summer of 2015, Iran has become empowered both militarily and economically. Tens of thousands of Shi’ite militia, the Popular Mobilization Units, have been trained and are controlled by Iran and its proxy Hezbollah. They are the vanguard of a Shi’ite jihad stretching from Tehran to the shores of the Mediterranean, while simultaneously ethnically cleansing tens of thousands of Sunnis without a whimper from the United Nations.

 

Now that Iran and Hezbollah are well on their way to claiming Syria and Iraq as trophies, they may goose-step their way toward their next targets. Iranian support for the Houthis in Yemen’s civil war has tied up the Saudis while allowing Iran to focus on its next likely target, Bahrain. Bahrain may be the next epicenter in the war for Islamic supremacy, the Sunni-Shi’ite conflict. Iran has made no secret of the fact that it wants to overthrow the Sunni Al Khalifa Bahrainian dynasty, which rules a majority Shi’ite population in what Iran considers one of its provinces. Just two years after the Ayatollah Khomeini took power in 1979, he tried to foment a coup in Bahrain.

 

Here is a glimpse into some of Iran’s recent nefarious activity in Bahrain: As The Washington Post reported, “[The] U.S. increasingly sees Iran’s hand in the arming of Bahraini militants.” According to the Post, US and European officials said raids have revealed “game-changer” weapons, and “an elaborate training program, orchestrated by Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to school Bahraini militants in the techniques of advanced bomb making and guerrilla warfare.” In 2016 Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of the overseas Iranian Revolutionary Guards (Quds Force), threatened Bahrain with a “bloody intifada.” According to the Washington Institute’s Matthew Levitt and Michael Knights, there is a “growing network of bomb making facilities and weapons stores,” part of a coordinated “destabilization campaign” by Iran in Bahrain.

 

Shi’ite militias and underground cells trained in Iran and Iraq are producing highly advanced weapons. Iran’s fingerprints are all over the imported weapons; the military explosive C-4 could only have come only from Iran. This month Bahrain arrested 14 people trained by Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards who were allegedly planning assassinations.

 

Lets be clear: Bahrain is not an exemplar of human rights, and represses its majority Shi’ite populace. But in the name of shared interests, American administrations of both parties have relied on Bahrainian territory for American security interests. So why is Bahrain so vital to American national security interests? The answer is the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet. Bahrain is home to the Fifth Fleet, tasked with security of the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

 

Up to 20% of the world’s fossil fuels transit these waters and only America’s Fifth Fleet is capable of the indispensible mission of protecting free passage for shipping. The Straits of Hormuz are just a few miles wide, connecting the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea. Every ship transiting the straits is in easy target range of Iranian missiles, endangering the worldwide economy.

 

If Iran takes over Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, a key American ally, will be exposed and vulnerable. It would destabilize the region and dramatically increase the risks for American forces. The King Fahd Causeway connects Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and was used by the Saudis to help quell the Bahrainian Shi’ite uprising during the Arab Winter. If Iran overtakes Bahrain, it could easily be used by Iran to threaten or overrun Sunni Arab oil fields and incite a Shi’ite uprising in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Shi’ites live near some of the most vital Saudi oil fields and could easily become a fifth column within the kingdom.

 

The presence of Iran casts an ominous shadow on the whole Gulf, where Oman has already acquiesced to Iranian extortion. Oman fears Iran, which lies just across the straits and for decades has been compelled for its survival to be Iran’s ally in the Gulf. Oman has allowed Iran to use its territory to threaten shipping in the Straits of Hormuz, and may build with Iran both a gas pipeline and a causeway to connect the nations.

 

According to the official Iranian Press TV in 2014, “the responsibility for seizing vessels trespassing on Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf has been officially given to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Navy, according to Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, the commander of the IRGC Navy.” Fadavi told the country’s quasi- official Fars news agency, “The Americans can sense by all means how their warships will be sunk…in combat against Iran.” For the past few years Iranian speedboats controlled by the IRGC have been harassing American naval vessels.

 

Now that US President Donald Trump has dipped his toe into the treacherous water of Iranian hegemony with his strike in Syria, will he also realize it is also the time to act decisively the next time the Iranian navy endangers American vessels in the international waters of the Persian Gulf?

 

The world is waiting to see whether his attack against the use of chemical weapons was a “one and done,” or is America beginning to reassert its authority for its national interest that was so carelessly abandoned by president Obama, Susan Rice and John Kerry.

 

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Tillerson: An 'Unchecked Iran' Could Follow Same Path as North Korea: Jerusalem Post, Apr. 20, 2017 —US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday accused Iran of "alarming ongoing provocations" to destabilize countries in the Middle East and of undermining US interests in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. "An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and to take the world along with it," Tillerson told reporters a day after announcing a review of US policy towards Iran, including sanctions against Tehran.

Is Iran Pushing the Envelope on Its Nuclear Deal?: Jenna Lifhits, Weekly Standard, Apr. 18, 2017 —Top Iranian officials are boasting that the nuclear deal enabled the country to make progress in developing advanced centrifuges, and broad production of some advanced models has already begun in the year since the deal was implemented, per Iranian media.

It’s Time to Name and Sanction Iran’s Terrorists: John Bolton, New York Post, Apr. 16, 2017—When US Tomahawk missiles struck Syria’s Shayrat air base in retaliation for the Assad regime’s barbaric chemical-weapons attack on rebel-held territory, Pentagon officials stressed their efforts to avoid hitting Russian military personnel located nearby. What the briefers didn’t say was that units from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps were also present at Shayrat, having been buttressing Bashar al-Assad long before significant Russian involvement.

Trump Turns the Screws on Iran's Mullahs: Reza Shafiee, American Thinker, Apr. 18, 2017—The Trump administration sanctioned Iran’s prison system “for torturous interrogations, forced interrogations, and widespread mistreatment of inmates,” on April 15. It may seem a tiny step in the way of stopping Iranian regime’s human rights abuses against its own citizens but it certainly is significant as a change. It also deals a major blow to the perpetrators.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TURKS DIVIDED AS ERDOGAN EXPANDS POWER; TRUMP RESETS FOREIGN POLICY WITH SYRIA RAID

 

 

Turkey: Divided We Stand: Burak Bekdil, BESA, Apr. 18, 2017 — On April 16, 2017, nearly half of all voting Turks objected to a new constitutional order that grants Recep Tayyip Erdoğan unchecked powers in a “Turkish-style” executive presidency.

How Erdogan's Victory Might Be Europe's Defeat: Abigail R. Esman, IPT, Apr. 17, 2017— Over lunch in Istanbul last week, a friend and I spoke about the upcoming Turkish referendum.

The Great Reversal — For Now: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Apr. 13, 2017— The world is agog at Donald Trump’s head-snapping foreign policy reversal. He runs on a platform of America First.

Restoring Deterrence, One Bomb at a Time?: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Apr. 17, 2017 — The Tomahawk volley attack, for all its ostentatious symbolism, served larger strategic purposes.

 

On Topic Links

 

Blood Libels in Europe, Asia, Africa and Recently the US: Reuven Brenner, Asia Times, Apr. 18, 2017

In Supporting Erdogan, Turks Cite Economic and Religious Gains: Patrick Kingsley, New York Times, Apr. 17, 2017

Report: Trump to Step on Hezbollah’s Neck while Going for Iran’s Jugular: David Israel, Jewish Press, Apr. 16, 2017 The Price of Obama’s Mendacity: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 10, 2017

 

 

TURKEY: DIVIDED WE STAND                                                          

Burak Bekdil                                                                                   

BESA, Apr. 18, 2017

 

On April 16, 2017, nearly half of all voting Turks objected to a new constitutional order that grants Recep Tayyip Erdoğan unchecked powers in a “Turkish-style” executive presidency. At the ballot box, 51.4% of registered voters agreed to give Erdoğan what he so powerfully craved: legitimacy for the powers he has unconstitutionally exercised since he became Turkey’s first directly elected president in August 2014. That result left 48.6% of Turks frustrated and isolated. Turkey’s divide is now deeper and its politics more fragile, and the worsening political polarization promises turmoil.

 

With his new powers, Erdoğan will be able to further consolidate his rule. As head of the state, the government, and the ruling party, he can now appoint vice presidents, cabinet ministers, state bureaucrats, and senior judges. He can propose budgets and issue government decrees. All of this is now legitimate – although an opposition party is claiming election fraud. Its claim is based on a ruling by the Supreme Board of Elections that votes on papers without official seals are to be declared valid, a clear violation of Turkey’s electoral laws.

 

Political co-habitation will be much harder now. Protests and the use of brutal police force, especially if vote-rigging claims become more serious allegations, will not be unlikely. Erdoğan’s promise to reinstate the death penalty will finally break the weakening chains keeping Turkey anchored at the European bay, a turn of events that will almost inevitably spark economic and financial chaos. Ankara will have its hands full introducing a new constitutional regime without national consensus. Even the country’s post-military coup constitution of 1982 won over 91% of voter support. A regime change so radical that it includes abolishing the office of prime minister and substantially weakening parliament based on the approval of only slightly more than half the population will not build nationwide political peace.

 

Was the vote on April 16 a success story for Erdoğan? It depends on the criteria. Erdoğan won almost exactly the same vote he won in the presidential election of August 2014 (51.5% vs. 51.4%). Not a bad score. But the president’s Yes campaign was run (ironically) by two major parties: his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). In theory, the two parties should have won over 60% of the vote on April 16, as their combined vote in the November 1, 2015 parliamentary election was 61.4%. But the Yes campaign’s 51.4% was 10 percentage points lower than the combined vote for the two parties, suggesting that even some AKP and/or MHP voters opposed changing the country’s political regime to favor a disproportionately powerful president.

 

Can Erdoğan comfortably rule a country of 80 million people with the support of slightly over half the population? The answer is yes and no. Erdoğan has often protested that he did not advocate an executive presidential system “for his own sake and benefit.” He reminded his fans at rallies that “he is merely a mortal” and the system he wanted would remain in place long after his death. But did he want to install the system in order to ensure his own one-man rule until his death? Again, the answer is yes and no. Erdoğan certainly wanted expanded powers for himself, but he also wanted them in the interests of political Islam. In his ideal world, he would be a powerful president for life – and after his death, he would be succeeded by another Islamist (likely chosen by Erdoğan himself). The new system would thus further advance political Islam in Turkey and the Middle East.

 

The story behind the presidential system goes back to June 7, 2015, another occasion on which the Turks went to the ballot box. Although his doing so was totally illegitimate, President Erdoğan, who was supposed to be non-partisan, campaigned for the AKP. With slightly over 40% of the nationwide vote, the AKP lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since it rose to power in 2002. Then-prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had to negotiate a coalition government with opposition parties, including the Islamists’ archenemy, the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP). Erdoğan objected to this idea and set new elections for November 1, 2015. On that occasion, his AKP won a landslide victory, garnering nearly 50% of the vote and forming a single-party government.

 

Despite the happy ending for Erdoğan and his Islamist cohort, the June 7 episode deeply worried his strategists. The possibility of another Turkish popular vote forcing a coalition alliance with a secular party had to be eliminated. The only way to do that was to change the presidential system. Under the new system, smaller parties will be gradually made irrelevant (as they are in the US), leaving two major actors on the stage: an Islamist/nationalist party addressing Turkey’s less educated, conservative masses; and a secular, liberal party representing better-educated and more urban Turks. Turkey’s conservative/secular divide typically gives the former group 70-75% of nationwide support and the latter the remaining 25-30%. Such a political set-up would make the election of a secular government and president highly unlikely and a coalition government out of the question…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                           

 

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HOW ERDOGAN'S VICTORY MIGHT BE EUROPE'S DEFEAT

Abigail R. Esman                                                                      

IPT, Apr. 17, 2017

 

Over lunch in Istanbul last week, a friend and I spoke about the upcoming Turkish referendum. "Many European Turks are likely to vote 'yes,'" I cautioned my friend, whom I knew was planning to vote 'no,' or against the measure to grant President Recep Tayyip Erdogan unlimited powers. A "yes" vote, by contrast, would end the democratic parliamentary government established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the republic, and in the eyes of most Western leaders, establish Erdogan as the Muslim world's newest dictator.

 

My friend was visibly angered. "Then let them, with all their rights and freedoms, come here to live," she retorted. "How dare they think that they can take these rights from us when we are the ones who have to live with the result?"

 

The outcome of Sunday's referendum showed a Turkey split almost exactly in half, with 51 percent "yes" and just under 49 percent voting "no." Or did it? It is too soon to make a full analysis of the vote results – which some rights groups have already contested – but one thing was immediately made clear: the vast majority of Turks living throughout Europe voted in support of Erdogan's rule, even as the majority of those living in major Turkish cities – Izmir, Ankara and Istanbul – voted against it. If only the votes of Turks living in the country had been counted, would the results have been the same? Or would they show that Turkey's residents support a secular, Western democracy while Europe's Turks do not?

 

If my friends in Istanbul who voted "no" woke this morning afraid for their country's future, so, too, should my friends in much of Europe. In the Netherlands, for instance, a whopping 71 percent of Dutch-Turks who participated in the vote chose "yes." As the results of the referendum became known, thousands descended on the Turkish Consulate in Rotterdam, waving Turkish flags and celebrating the victory of an Islamist leader who had pledged to "raise a new, religious generation," end secular education, and who has imprisoned countless journalists, writers, artists, and others who have dared to criticize him.

 

It was not only in Holland. According to the Daily Sabah, 75 percent of Belgian Turks who voted opted for "yes," as did 73 percent in Austria, 65 percent in France, and 63 percent in Germany. Only Switzerland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom showed majorities with "no" votes. And of these three, Sweden is effectively the only member of the EU. American-Turks, however, showed the greatest resistance, with 83 percent voting "no." Still, some prominent Islamist voices spoke out in support of Erdogan, including former Muslim American Society president and political activist Esam Omeish, who celebrated the referendum results on his Facebook page with a photo of himself holding a Turkish flag that reads "evet," or "yes."

 

In Europe, some have argued, as did "Volkan," a pseudonym for the owner of the popular DutchTurks.nl blog, that the results were self-inflicted, the result of having antagonized Turkey and Erdogan in recent months. Holland, for instance, refused entry to pro-Erdogan officials seeking to campaign on his behalf. Germany, where rallies were similarly blocked, has also been outspoken in its criticism of Erdogan's imprisonment of a German-Turkish journalist. But such explanations do not account for the results in Austria and France, or for the similar outcome of the November 2015 election, in which majorities in Germany, the Netherlands, and France all voted for Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP).

 

What I did not tell my friend, as we sat watching the sunlight dance over the Bosphorus, was that the European Turks who were voting to change the Turkish Constitution, who were effectively choosing to establish a more fundamentalist, Islamist Turkey in place of the secular, Western democracy that has been in place since 1923, have no interest in the "freedoms" that she spoke of. That they have them in Europe is meaningless: they don't want them. They don't want them in Turkey, where they come from; and they don't want them in Europe, where they now live. Not for themselves. And not for anybody else. Indeed, as the IPT noted after the November 2015 elections, of the 4.6 million Turks living in Europe, a majority seems to prefer to live in an Islamic state, and not a secular one.

 

This is the frightening lesson that Europe must learn from the results of the April 16 referendum. While its leaders now confer about the "proper" response to Erdogan in his new role and what they expect of him as the leader of a clearly-divided country, they might also consider their response to his supporters who are not just Turkish citizens, but Europe's own. How to reckon with Europeans who choose against European norms and values, who actively vote against the separation of church and state, who seek a more Islamized society? What does this say about the failure of integration? More, what does it say – or threaten – about Europe's potential future? And what can be done to save it?                                                     

 

 

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THE GREAT REVERSAL — FOR NOW                                                                                     

Charles Krauthammer                                                                                                           

Washington Post, Apr. 13, 2017

 

The world is agog at Donald Trump’s head-snapping foreign policy reversal. He runs on a platform of America First. He renounces the role of world policeman. He excoriates parasitic foreigners that (I paraphrase) suck dry our precious bodily fluids — and these are allies! On April 4, Trump declared: “I don’t want to be the president of the world. I’m the president of the United States. And from now on, it’s going to be America First.”

 

A week earlier, both his secretary of state and U.N. ambassador had said that the regime of Bashar Assad is a reality and that changing it is no longer an American priority. Then last week, Assad drops chemical weapons on rebel-held territory and Trump launches 59 Tomahawk missiles into Syria. This was, in part, an emotional reaction to images of children dying of sarin poisoning. And, in part, seizing the opportunity to redeem Barack Obama’s unenforced red line on chemical weapons. 

Whatever the reason, moral or strategic, Trump acted. And effectively reset his entire foreign policy. True, in and of itself, the raid will not decisively alter the course of Syria’s civil war. Assad and his Iranian, Russian and Hezbollah co-combatants still have the upper hand — but no longer a free hand. After six years of U.S. passivity, there are limits now and America will enforce them. Nor was the raid the beginning of a campaign for regime change. It was, however, a reassertion of an American stake in both the conduct and the outcome of the war. America’s abdication is over. Be warned.

 

Moreover, the very swiftness of the response carried a message to the wider world. Obama is gone. No more elaborate forensic investigations. No agonized presidential handwringing over the moral dilemmas of a fallen world. It took Obama 10 months to decide what to do in Afghanistan. It took Trump 63 hours to make Assad pay for his chemical-weapons duplicity. America demonstrated its capacity for swift, decisive action. And in defense, mind you, of an abstract international norm — a rationale that dramatically overrides the constraints of America First.

 

Trump’s inaugural address had boldly rejected the 70-year American consensus to bear the burdens of world leadership. Less than three months later, the Syrian raid abruptly changed that course with a renewed interventionism — not, to be sure, in the service of a crusade for democracy, but in the service of concrete strategic objectives, broadly defined and extending far beyond our shores. To the North Pacific, for example. The Syria strike sent a message to both China and North Korea that Trump’s threats of unilateral action against Pyongyang’s nukes and missiles are serious. A pre-emptive strike against those facilities is still unlikely but today conceivable. Even more conceivable — perhaps even probable — is a shoot-down of a North Korean missile in flight.

 

The message to Russia was equally clear. Don’t push too far in Syria and, by extension, in Europe. We’re not seeking a fight, but you don’t set the rules. Syria shared the Sharyat base with Russian troops. Russian barracks were left untouched, but we were clearly not deterred by their proximity. The larger lesson is this: In the end, national interest prevails. Populist isolationism sounds great, rouses crowds and may even win elections. But contraWhite House adviser Steve Bannon, it’s not a governing foreign policy for the United States. Bannon may have written the come-home-America inaugural address. But it was the old hands, Trump’s traditionally internationalist foreign policy team led by Defense Secretary James Mattis and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who rewrote the script with the Syria strike.

 

Assad violated the international taboo on chemical weapons. Who would enforce it, if not us? Candidate Trump would have replied: None of our business. President Trump brought out the Tomahawks. His foreign policy has gone from mere homeland protection to defending certain interests, values and strategic assets abroad. These endure over time. Hence the fundamental continuity of our post-World War II engagement abroad. With apologies to Lord Palmerston, we don’t have permanent enthusiasms, but we do have permanent interests. And they have a way of asserting themselves. Which is why Bannonism is in eclipse. This is not to say that things could not change tomorrow. We’ve just witnessed one about-face. With a president who counts unpredictability as a virtue, he could well reverse course again. For now, however, the traditionalists are in the saddle. U.S. policy has been normalized. The world is on notice: Eight years of sleepwalking is over. America is back.         

 

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RESTORING DETERRENCE, ONE BOMB AT A TIME?                                                                  

Victor Davis Hanson                                                                                                     

National Review, Apr. 17, 2017

 

The Tomahawk volley attack, for all its ostentatious symbolism, served larger strategic purposes. It reminded a world without morality that there is still a shred of a rule or two: Do not use nerve gas on the battlefield or against civilians. The past faux redline from Obama, the systematic use of chlorine gas by Syria, and its contextualization by the Obama administration had insidiously eroded that old battlefield prohibition. Trump was right to seek to revive it.

 

The subsequent MOAB bomb strike in Afghanistan is useful against ISIS’s subterranean nests, and in signaling the Taliban and ISIS that the U.S. too can be unpredictable and has not quite written off its 16-year commitment. But as in the case of the Tomahawk strikes against Syria, it also fulfilled the larger purpose of reminding enemies, such as Islamic terrorists, North Korea, and Iran (which all stash weapons of destruction in caves and the like) that the U.S. is capable of anything. In other words, apparently anywhere Trump thinks that he can make a point about deterrence, with good odds of not getting Americans killed or starting a war (he used Tomahawks not pilots where Russian planes were in the vicinity), he will probably drop a bomb or shoot off a missile or send in an iconic carrier fleet.

 

The message reminds the world that the Obama administration’s “lead from behind,” “don’t do stupid sh**,” plastic red-button reset, Cairo Speech foreign policy followed no historical arc that bent anywhere. And the U.S. was previously on the wrong, not the right, side of both history and the traditions of U.S. bipartisan foreign policy — an aberration from the past, not a blueprint of the future.

 

Like Ronald Reagan, who, after Jimmy Carter’s managed declinism, shelled Lebanon, bombed Gaddafi, and invaded Grenada, Trump is trying to thread the needle between becoming bogged down somewhere and doing nothing. No president in recent memory also has outsourced such responsibility to his military advisers, whom Trump refers to as “our” or “my” “generals.” He can afford to for now, because he has made excellent appointments at Defense, State, National Security, and Homeland Security. These are men who justifiably have won broad bipartisan support and who believe in the ancient ways of military and spiritual deterrence, balance of power, and alliances rather than the U.N., presidential sonorousness, or soft power to keep the peace.

 

These opportunistic deterrent expressions are likewise intended to remind several parties in particular that the Obama hiatus is over. Apparently, Trump will not necessarily reset the Obama reset of the Bush reset with Russia. Instead, he probably believes that Putin will soon agree that the 2009–16 era was an abnormal condition in which a far weaker Russia bullied friends and connived against almost everything the U.S. was for. And such asymmetry could not be expected to go on. A return to normal relations is not brinkmanship; it should settle down to tense competition, some cooperation, and grudging respect among two powerful rivals. Who knows, Putin may come to respect (and even prefer) an American leader who is unpredictable and unapologetically tough without being sanctimonious, sermonizing — and weak. The old canard is largely true: Russia has no natural interests in seeing a radical Islamic and nuclear Iran on its border, other than the fact that this change would irritate and aggravate the U.S., which might satisfy Putin. But if Russia no longer felt a need to automatically oppose everything America sought (or if it feared to do so), then many of its unsavory alliances might no longer may seem all that useful.

 

Trump’s strikes and displays of naval power, and the reactions to them, also remind North Korea that it has no friends and could prove a liability to China (as Syria could to Russia) rather than a useful rabid animal to be occasionally unleashed so that it might bark and nip at Westernized Asia and the U.S. If North Korea’s antics imperil China’s commercial buccaneering or lead to a nuclear Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan on China’s borders, or to U.S. commercial restrictionism, then China could see North Korea’s insanity as not worth the cost. Additionally, if tensions rise, North Korea’s own military elite could remove the unhinged Kim Jong-un after concluding that he’s expendable. Or regional powers, despite differences, might collectively conclude that they can’t live with daily threats of nuclear launchings.

 

Again, Trump is trying to act unpredictably and forcefully against Pyongyang, the world’s most detested government — on the logic that without war, he can prompt greater containment before the unsustainable status quo leads to a conflagration. This is a sort of post–Cold War brinkmanship. By now, Iran knows that it cannot send another missile toward an American carrier, hijack an American boat, or cheat flagrantly on the Iran Deal without earning some response from a man who dislikes both the revolutionary government and what Iran has done to the U.S. over the past eight years.

 

The general aims of these iconic acts are to remind the world of U.S. strength and that the new president has the willingness to use it to prevent some weaker entity from doing something stupid. The general aims of these iconic acts are to remind the world of U.S. strength and that the new president has the willingness to use it to prevent some weaker entity from doing something stupid on the misapprehension that the U.S. is in decline rather than reemerging from a temporarily and self-imposed recessional. Once deterrence is reestablished (and only once it is achieved), then the U.S. will be able to appeal to Russia and China to find areas of mutual concern (radical Islam, nuclear proliferation in Asia, rogue nations that threaten the international order, etc.)…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Blood Libels in Europe, Asia, Africa and Recently the US: Reuven Brenner, Asia Times, Apr. 18, 2017—With Passover and “fake news” in the news, consider the “blood libels” that Jews and other groups have long been subjected to. The accusations against Jews first appeared during the 12th century AD. They spread during the 13th and 14th centuries, trials reaching their highest number in the Holy Roman Empire two generations before the Reformation.

In Supporting Erdogan, Turks Cite Economic and Religious Gains: Patrick Kingsley, New York Times, Apr. 17, 2017 —Merve Arslan, a teacher, struggles to reconcile her own perception of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey with that of his critics. “He’s not a dictator,” Ms. Arslan, 28, said. “He’s a democrat.”

Report: Trump to Step on Hezbollah’s Neck while Going for Iran’s Jugular: David Israel, Jewish Press, Apr. 16, 2017—The US congress will amend the 2015 HR2297, Hezbollah Financing Prevention Act (HIFPA), aimed at preventing Hezbollah and associated entities from gaining access to international financial and other institutions, According to a US-based source who spoke to the Lebanese daily Annahar.

The Price of Obama’s Mendacity: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 10, 2017—Last week’s cruise-missile strike against a Syrian air base in response to Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons has reopened debate about the wisdom of Barack Obama’s decision to forgo a similar strike, under similar circumstances, in 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IRAN “ON NOTICE” AFTER LATEST MISSILE TEST, BUT HOW WILL TRUMP UNDO OBAMA’S DISASTROUS “DEAL”?

Trump’s Iran Notice: Editorial, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 31, 2017— One early test for the Trump Administration will be how it enforces the nuclear deal with Iran, and that question has become more urgent with Iran’s test last weekend of another ballistic missile.

Re-Isolate Iran Now: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Jan. 27, 2017— Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear that one of the top items on his agenda for consultation with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington next month is countering Iranian aggression.

Netanyahu's Road to Iran Runs Through North Korea: Ben Caspit, Al-Monitor, Jan. 30, 2017— Forget for a moment about moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem…

Donald Trump Should Isolate Iran Immediately: Jeb Bush and Dennis Ross, Time, Jan. 19, 2017— Just days before Christmas, as U.S. policymakers were settling into the holidays, Iran staged massive war drills, with one of its top military leaders even boasting that the Persian Gulf was within "range" of its fighting forces.

 

On Topic Links

 

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn: As of Today, We Are Officially Putting Iran on Notice (Video): Real Clear World, Feb. 2, 2017

Report: Iran Violates UN Resolution With Ballistic Missile Test: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, Jan. 30, 2017

Thanks to our Mistakes With Iran, the North Korean Threat to the US is at Record Levels: Van Hipp, Fox News, Jan. 6, 2017

Iran's Axis of Resistance Rises: Payam Mohseni and Hussein Kalout, Foreign Affairs, Jan. 24, 2017

 

 

TRUMP’S IRAN NOTICE

Editorial

Wall Street Journal, Jan. 31, 2017

 

One early test for the Trump Administration will be how it enforces the nuclear deal with Iran, and that question has become more urgent with Iran’s test last weekend of another ballistic missile. The test of a medium-range, home-grown Khorramshahr missile is Tehran’s twelfth since it signed the nuclear deal with the U.S. and its diplomatic partners in 2015. John Kerry, then Secretary of State, insisted that the deal barred Iran from developing or testing ballistic missiles. But that turned out to be a self-deception at best, as the U.N. Security Council resolution merely “called upon” Iran not to conduct such missile tests, rather than barring them.

 

Iran has little reason to stop such tests because the penalties for doing them have been so light. The Obama Administration responded with weak sanctions on a few Iranian entities and individuals, even as it insisted that Iran is complying with the overall deal and deserves more sanctions relief. In December Boeing signed a $16 billion deal to sell 80 passenger planes to Iran, never mind that the regime uses its airliners to ferry troops and materiel to proxies in Syria.

 

President Trump has offered contradictory opinions about that sale, but he has been unequivocal in his opposition to what he calls the “disastrous” Iran deal. In a call Sunday with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, the President pledged to enforce the Iran deal “rigorously,” and on Monday the Administration requested an emergency Security Council meeting to discuss the latest test.

 

That meeting probably won’t yield much, thanks to the usual Russian obstruction, but it will put a spotlight on the willingness of allies such as Britain to do more to uphold an agreement the enforcement mechanisms of which they were once eager to trumpet. Whatever happened to the “snapback economic sanctions” that were supposed to be the West’s insurance policy against Iran’s cheating?

 

The Administration could also warn Iran that the Treasury Department will bar global banks from conducting dollar transactions with their Iranian counterparts in the event of another test, and that it will rigorously enforce “know your customer” rules for foreign companies doing business with counterparts in the Islamic Republic, many of which are fronts for the Revolutionary Guards.

 

The U.S. needs to provide allies with military reassurance against the Iranian threat. Supplying Israel with additional funds to develop its sophisticated Arrow III anti-ballistic missile system would send the right message, as would an offer to Saudi Arabia to sell Lockheed Martin’s high-altitude Thaad ABM system. The State Department and Pentagon will have to explore diplomatic and military options in case the deal unravels.

 

What the Administration can’t afford is to allow the latest test to pass without a response. That would tell Iranians they can develop missiles and threaten neighbors with impunity. Mr. Trump is keen to show he will honor his campaign promises, and charting a tougher course against Iran is one of them.

 

 

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RE-ISOLATE IRAN NOW

David M. Weinberg

Israel Hayom, Jan. 27, 2017

                       

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear that one of the top items on his agenda for consultation with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington next month is countering Iranian aggression. With good reason. The net result of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has been to foster Iran's rise to regional hegemon. While the JCPOA suspended a part of Iran's nuclear weapons program for a few years, the ayatollahs see it as providing time to advance their centrifuge capability and regional sway.

 

In a Hoover Institution paper published this month, Professor Russell Berman and Ambassador Charles Hill call Iran a "de facto Islamic caliphate," and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps an "Iranian expeditionary force for invading strategic Arab spaces." They call former President Barack Obama's declared goal — of finding and bolstering so-called moderates in Tehran via the JCPOA — an "illusion." Iran is not a polity of moderates and hard-liners, they write. It is a revolutionary theocracy masquerading as a legitimate state actor. So the first thing Trump must do is recognize the consistently hostile character of the regime.

 

Alas, Obama was obsessed from the advent of his presidency with making nice to Iran, and was willing to subordinate much of American foreign policy in service of that goal. He sent many secret letters to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that recognized the prerogatives of the Islamic republic and foreswore regime change. He cut funding to anti-regime groups and abandoned Iranian moderates during the early days of the Green Revolution in 2009, after the regime fixed an election. He effectively conceded Syria as within Iran's sphere of influence.

 

In his penetrating book, "The Iran Wars: Spy Games, Bank Battles, and the Secret Deals That Reshaped the Middle East," Wall Street Journal reporter Jay Solomon exposes the money trail that accompanied this strategic sellout to Iran. In exchange for talking, Obama gave the Iranians hundreds of millions of dollars monthly, stabilizing their economy. And in the end, Obama offered Iran a deal that legalized full-blown uranium, plutonium, and ballistic missile work on a timeline, and did not force the country to disclose its previous nuclear cheating. The deal also released roughly a hundred billion dollars to Iran; had American officials traveling to drum up business for Iran; and removed restrictions on a range of Iranian terrorists.

 

Along the way, the administration abandoned the powerful sanctions leverage it had over Iran. Solomon chronicles the ramp-up of severe banking sanctions on Iran that were having a disastrous impact on the Iranian economy. "Iran's economy was at risk of disintegrating, the result of one of the most audacious campaigns in the history of statecraft. The country was months away from running short on hard currency. The budget had a $200 billion black hole. And the U.S. Treasury Department had made sure Iran had no way to recover. Iranian ships and airplanes were not welcome beyond Iran's borders, and oil revenue was frozen in overseas accounts."

 

And then, behold, Obama backed off. Administration officials all of a sudden claimed that tightening the noose on the Iranian economy would cause the sanctions policy to collapse! And Secretary of State John Kerry was sent to cut a sweet deal with Iran; a deal that squandered — and then reversed — a decade's worth of effort to constrain Iran. Now Trump must act to constrain Iran all over again. Over the past year, Iran has intensified a pattern of aggression and increased its footprint across the region. Iranian advisers with Shiite militias from as far away as Afghanistan have flooded Syria, giving Tehran a military arc of influence stretching to the Mediterranean. Khamenei says that Iran's massive military presence (alongside Hezbollah) in Syria is a supreme security interest for the regime — a front line against Israel — and that Iran has no plans to leave.

 

This has grave implications for Israel. Netanyahu must demand of Trump (and Putin) to include the removal of all foreign forces, especially Iran, in any future agreement regarding Syria. This will be very difficult — especially since Russia has just signed a long-term agreement to greatly enlarge its military presence in Syria, including the port in Tartus and air base in Latakia.

 

Iran, too, is aggressively expanding its naval presence in the Red Sea region and eastern Mediterranean. Since 2011, it has been sending warships through the Suez Canal, and has used maritime routes to send arms shipments to Hizballah and Hamas. (Israel has intercepted five of these armament ships.) And in the Strait of Hormuz, IRGC speedboats have repeatedly engaged in provocative encounters with American warships, including the conduct of surprise live rocket fire exercises in proximity to U.S. Navy vessels.

 

Then there is Iranian terrorism. IRGC agents have been caught planning attacks on Israeli, American, British and Saudi targets in Kenya. Over the past five years, Iranian agents were exposed while planning to attack Israeli diplomats in Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Georgia, India, Nigeria, Thailand and Turkey. Hezbollah operatives supported by Iran carried out the bus bombing of Israeli tourists at the Burgas airport. Also: The detailing of Iranian terrorism in Arab countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia could fill this entire newspaper.

 

Then there is Iran's ballistic missile program. In December, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz sent a seven-page letter to three senior officials of the Obama administration, detailing his well-founded concerns that North Korea and Iran might be working together on developing nuclear missiles. (Not surprisingly, the Obama officials never answered.) Cruz's basic question was: Why does Iran, having promised not to make nuclear weapons, continue to pour resources into developing long-range ballistic missiles, including numerous missile tests this past year? If not for nuclear weapons, then for what?…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

Contents

 

NETANYAHU'S ROAD TO IRAN RUNS THROUGH NORTH KOREA

Ben Caspit

Al-Monitor, Jan. 30, 2017

 

Forget for a moment about moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, US recognition of the settlement blocs, a closed-eye policy on the pace of construction in the territories and the way the United States has been inspired, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, by the separation barriers that Israel built in the West Bank and along its southern border. The one truly important story is North Korea. The most senior sources in Israel claim that this is where US President Donald Trump will be tested. Once the dust settles, the eyes of the world will be watching Trump's steps to deal with North Korea’s accelerated nuclear armaments program. Top Israeli Cabinet members believe that the outcome of Trump's dealing with the North Koreans will determine whether international efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear capabilities will be a success or whether they will be a resounding failure.

 

“If Trump succeeds in stopping North Korea, it would be reasonable to assume that the Iranians will get the hint,” one senior Israeli official told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “On the other hand, if Trump repeats the Obama administration’s failures in handling North Korea, the Iranians will take this as a signal that the world will have to concede to them too at some point. It would make no sense if the North Koreans can have a nuclear arsenal and intercontinental missiles that can strike the United States, while the Iranians cannot.”

 

The overall Israeli assessment is that this issue will be the focus of talks between Netanyahu and Trump scheduled to take place at the White House in February. Netanyahu will make every effort to gain Trump’s recognition of the settlement blocs. He will plead with Trump to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem and portray himself as the president’s closest friend, all in an effort to win public support to counter the wave of criminal investigations he currently faces. The real issue, however, will be Iran as an incarnation of North Korea’s nuclear program. It would be incorrect to think that Netanyahu has forgotten Iran's program, the definitive issue of his past eight years in power.

 

“Obama’s failure in dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue was a decisive failure,” a senior Israeli security official told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “And it is a failure that could have a snowball effect.” Despite the geographic and ideological distances, Israel is watching North Korea with extreme caution. It is fully aware that the unpredictable Asian nation is developing intercontinental missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. It is also worried that the North Koreans, who already have several atomic bombs, are now trying to build a hydrogen bomb.

 

“Trump must stop North Korea,” a senior Israeli minister told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “While the eyes of the entire world are focused on this task, this is especially true of the North Koreans’ friends in Tehran. There can be no doubt that if Trump fails, the Iranians will also obtain nuclear capabilities. The question is whether Trump is fully aware of how important this issue really is. Just as Netanyahu convinced the entire international community about the importance of the Iranian threat, he will attempt to convince Trump to deal with North Korea, which is an extension of the way the Iranians were handled.

 

What about the nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers? Israel’s defense establishment believes that it would be difficult to reopen the agreement for revision. Even the Cabinet believes it is a “mission impossible.” In December, sources close to Netanyahu held clandestine talks on the issue with members of the incoming administration and others close to Trump. The Israelis proposed an alternative in which the nuclear agreement is turned into a “trip wire’’ — a deterrence strategy shifting responsibility to the opposing side — in the belief that the Iranians will at some point violate the terms of the agreement. Once that happens, the United States could use the violations as the impetus to restore some sanctions and manufacture a crisis. The Israelis argued that any US violation of the agreement would run counter to the desired result. Trump and Netanyahu will need to have sensitive talks over this particular issue, and in those talks, the name of a third party is likely to come up: Russian President Vladimir Putin.

 

Israel is worried about Trump’s warm relationship with Putin. As one top Israeli political source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “The question is who will influence whom? If Putin persuades Trump to soften his attitude toward Iran, it would be a catastrophic strategic development for Israel. If, however, the opposite happens, it would be a positive development.”

 

There is another subject particularly disconcerting for Israel: Iran’s influence in Syria. Netanyahu is expected to ask Trump to persuade the Russians to prevent Iran from establishing a real presence in Syria in the post-civil war era. “If the [Islamic] Revolutionary Guard [Corps] sets up bases in Syria, if Iran gains ports and anti-aircraft bases there, this would signal a significant deterioration of Israel’s strategic situation,” a senior military official told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “We must make sure that Trump is aware of this issue and all of its implications.” In general, Israel is concerned about Trump handing Israel a few insignificant candies and toys, like moving the embassy to Jerusalem, while cutting a deal with Putin on the truly consequential issues — Iran's nuclear program and presence in Syria, which could lead to a new conventional front along Israel’s northern border, one that is much more dangerous than previous fronts.

 

Some in Israel are watching with consternation as the Trump administration takes shape. Almost all of the leading supporters of Israel mentioned as possible candidates for senior positions have been left out of the administration, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former UN Ambassador John Bolton and former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The only real pro-Israel appointment is David Friedman, and with all due respect to the prospective ambassador to Israel, what Israel actually needs is a presence in the Pentagon and the State Department. Instead, it has Defense Secretary James Mattis, who declared that the capital of Israel is Tel Aviv, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has never visited Israel and has close ties with the Arab world because of his past work in the oil industry.

 

The euphoria in Jerusalem is dissipating. On Jan. 28, Netanyahu tweeted his support for the construction of a border wall between the United States and Mexico, writing, “President Trump is right.” Although the tweet got him into hot water with the Mexican government and Mexico’s Jewish community, Netanyahu has no real regrets. It is important for him to stay close to Trump and become his best friend as quickly as possible. Only after the two men meet will it be known if this is possible.

                                                           

Contents

 

 

DONALD TRUMP SHOULD ISOLATE IRAN IMMEDIATELY

Jeb Bush and Dennis Ross

Time, Jan. 19, 2017

 

Just days before Christmas, as U.S. policymakers were settling into the holidays, Iran staged massive war drills, with one of its top military leaders even boasting that the Persian Gulf was within "range" of its fighting forces. At nearly the same time, Qassem Soleimani, the Commander of the Qods Forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), surveyed the battered remains of Aleppo. Soleimani now appears prominently wherever the Iranians deploy Shia militias to weaken existing states and regimes in the broader Middle East. Whether threatening to heat up the Persian Gulf or using Shia militias as an instrument of their power, we are witnessing a pattern of Iranian aggression that has accelerated in the year since the nuclear deal with Iran was implemented.

 

While Tehran is saber-rattling and threatening our allies in the region, the response from Washington, unfortunately, has remained muted. Time and again, the Obama administration has ignored the comprehensive nature of the Iranian threat and soft-pedaled non-nuclear sanctions seemingly out of fear that Iran would walk away from the nuclear deal. As a result, and much to the worry of America's traditional allies, Iran's leaders have become more emboldened and its footprint continues to grow across the region.

 

In the past, we have spoken publicly about the flaws of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which in the end has not halted but only delayed Iran's path to a bomb—and at the considerable price of abandoning Western leverage against Iran. To respond effectively, the Donald Trump administration should not rip up the deal on day one—that would make U.S. actions and not destabilizing and threatening Iranian behaviors the issue. We need to isolate Iran, not ourselves. But we must raise the costs of continued Iranian intransigence, and to that end, the incoming Trump administration should adopt a more expansive strategy towards Tehran: namely by addressing those vital issues beyond the scope of the agreement, specifically Iran's chronic regional meddling.

 

While the JCPOA was being negotiated and implemented, Iranian-advisors with Shia militias from as far away as Afghanistan flooded Syria, giving Tehran a military arc of influence stretching to the Mediterranean. Eleven Arab states also recently accused Iran of sponsoring terrorism and meddling in their internal affairs all while the nuclear agreement has been in effect. The U.S. State Department reached a similar conclusion in June, when it renewed its designation of Iran as the world's leading state-sponsor of terrorism, citing a "wide range of Iranian activities to destabilize the region." A new pressure campaign on Iran can help turn the tide. The United States has no shortage of tools for affecting Iran's behavior. A good one to start with: aggressively enforce the existing sanctions architecture.

 

Beginning on day one, the Trump administration can move quickly by pushing for enforcement of the U.N. travel ban imposed on key figures in the Iranian leadership, like Qassem Soleimani, who has been pictured in Aleppo, Falluja and near Mosul, and has met with counterparts recently in Russia. That's not to mention cracking down on Iran's multiple ballistic missile launches and its continued shipments of arms to Yemen, violating the U.N. arms embargo. Such behavior is in direct defiance of U.N. Resolution 2231, which enshrines the nuclear deal, and is an example of Iran's lack of accountability. If Iran continues to violate the letter and the spirit of the deal, the United States must be prepared to walk away from the agreement.

 

The new Administration should also move quickly to cut off Iran's financial pipeline. The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control should not provide licenses to Boeing and Airbus until Iran stops using Iran Air and other carriers to ferry weapons and personnel for the Assad regime and Hezbollah in Lebanon. The United States should also use its leverage with the Iraqi government to restrict airspace used by Iran for these activities…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents           

 

On Topic Links

 

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn: As of Today, We Are Officially Putting Iran on Notice (Video): Real Clear World, Feb. 2, 2017 —Good afternoon, everyone. Recent Iranian actions involving a provocative ballistic missile launch and an attack against a Saudi naval vessel, conducted by Iran-supported Houthi militants underscore what should have been clear to the international community all along about Iran's destabilizing behavior across the entire Middle East.

Report: Iran Violates UN Resolution With Ballistic Missile Test: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, Jan. 30, 2017Fox News reported exclusively on Monday that Iran has again violated a United Nations resolution with another ballistic missile test. The Khorramshahr medium-range ballistic missile was test-launched Sunday at a site about 140 miles east of Tehran.

Thanks to our Mistakes With Iran, the North Korean Threat to the US is at Record Levels: Van Hipp, Fox News, Jan. 6, 2017—Well you know it’s the New Year when North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is threatening a new ballistic missile or nuclear test.  This time, though, Kim Jong-un is saying the “Hermit Kingdom” is in the final stages of preparing to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).  This would be Pyongyang’s first test of an ICBM.

Iran's Axis of Resistance Rises: Payam Mohseni and Hussein Kalout, Foreign Affairs, Jan. 24, 2017—In 2006, in the midst of a fierce war between Israel and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice famously stated that the world was witnessing the “birth pangs of a new Middle East.” She was right—but not in the sense she had hoped.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ISRAËL ET SON COMBAT POUR LA PAIX

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

En ce Jour de notre Indépendance le combat

pour la paix se poursuit avec force!

Freddy Eytan

Le CAPE de Jérusalem, 15 avril 2013

 

Cette année nous célébrons le 65e anniversaire de notre indépendance mais notre combat pour aboutir à la paix avec nos voisins arabes est loin d’être achevé.

 

Comme chaque année nous célébrons le Yom Haatsmaout, au lendemain du Yom Hazikaron, et une semaine après les cérémonies du souvenir de la Shoah. Ces grands événements de l’histoire de notre peuple seront toujours liés et soudés dans notre mémoire collective. Ils marquent à la fois nos douleurs, nos souffrances, notre délivrance et notre espérance. Nous pensons au passé et à nos chers disparus de la guerre et ceux tombés aux combats, mais aussi à notre avenir, à nos enfants et aux générations futures.

 

Le peuple israélien demeure unique, riche de sa jeunesse, de sa diversité et de son histoire trimillénaire. Nous avons accompli un long et pénible chemin pour pouvoir accéder à notre indépendance. Nous pouvons être fiers d’avoir réussi, d’avoir le privilège d’appartenir à cette génération qui a vu et observé Israël en marche. Toutefois, nous ne devons toujours compter que sur nous-mêmes car les menaces sont toujours omniprésentes et des dirigeants de la planète, des groupes terroristes et des islamistes extrémistes et sanguinaires souhaitent notre disparition de la carte. En dépit de notre présence sur cette terre, ils nous ignorent et pensent que l’Etat juif est éphémère, une sorte de parenthèse de l’Histoire contemporaine. Eh bien, tous nos ennemis, tous nos détracteurs doivent savoir que nous sommes ici, dans le pays de nos ancêtres pour toujours, jusqu’à la fin des temps. Ils ne pourront jamais réécrire ou falsifier notre Histoire. 

 

Notre Etat a été construit par nos propres mains, par le sang, la sueur, la rage de vaincre et en versant des larmes. Nous avons fait fleurir le désert et séché les marécages. Des pionniers et des survivants de la Shoah, des hommes et des femmes venus de tous les pays et les continents ont forgé une société, une culture et une langue. Un exemple formidable et admirable que nul au monde ne pourra ignorer ou contester.

 

En 1948, certaines chancelleries furent sceptiques et affirmaient que notre Etat sera tué dans l’œuf par les armées arabes. En juin 1967, le général de Gaulle nous mettait en garde contre les menaces de Nasser, mais en dépit de l’embargo imposé, ce général aussi fut étonné et stupéfait par la victoire écrasante et spectaculaire de Tsahal durant la guerre des Six Jours.

 

Nous avons survécu et gagné toutes les batailles, dont la plus meurtrière, celle de Kippour, grâce toujours à notre foi inébranlable dans notre juste et noble cause. Notre volonté est de fer et inépuisable et elle a rendu notre Etat fort et invulnérable. En 1948, nous n’étions que 600 000 âmes ; aujourd’hui notre population dépasse les 8 millions. Enfin, nous avons aussi un grand privilège, unique au monde, car les communautés juives nous sont toujours solidaires et nous apportent un soutien incontestable et un réconfort fraternel.

 

Soutenir Assad

Daniel Pipes

The Washington Times, 11 avril 2013

Adaptation française: Anne-Marie Delcambre de Champvert

 

Les analystes conviennent que «l'érosion des moyens du régime syrien est en train de s'accélérer», que petit à petit il continue à battre en retraite, rendant chaque fois de plus en plus probable une percée des rebelles et une victoire islamiste. En réponse à cela, je vais changer ma recommandation politique partant de la neutralité pour parler en faveur de quelque chose qui, comme philanthrope et ennemi depuis plusieurs décennies de la dynastie Assad, me fait faire une pause avant d'écrire:

 

Voici ma logique pour cette suggestion faite à regret. Les forces du mal présentent moins de danger pour nous quand elles se font la guerre les unes aux autres. Ceci (1) les maintient concentrées localement et (2) empêche l'une ou l'autre de sortir victorieuse (et ce qui constitue un danger encore plus grand-). Les puissances occidentales devraient guider les ennemis vers un affrontement interminable en aidant le côté qui perd quel qu'il soit, de manière à prolonger leur conflit.

 

Cette politique a des précédents. Pendant la majeure partie de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, l'Allemagne nazie ouvrit l'offensive contre la Russie soviétique et le fait de garder les troupes allemandes immobilisées sur le front de l'Est était essentiel à la victoire des Alliés. Franklin D. Roosevelt a donc aidé Joseph Staline à approvisionner ses forces et à coordonner l'effort de guerre avec lui. Rétrospectivement, cette politique moralement répugnante, mais stratégiquement nécessaire, a réussi. Et Staline était un monstre bien pire qu’al-Assad.

 

La guerre Iran-Irak de 1980-1988 a créé une situation similaire. Après la mi-1982, lorsque les forces de l'ayatollah Khomeiny passèrent à l'offensive contre les forces de Saddam Hussein, les gouvernements occidentaux ont commencé à soutenir l'Irak. Oui, le régime irakien avait commencé les hostilités et a été plus brutal, mais le régime iranien était passé à l'offensive et était idéologiquement plus dangereux. Ce qui arriva de mieux fut que les hostilités tinrent les deux côtés occupés et empêchèrent l'un ou l'autre de sortir victorieux sur l'autre. Selon les mots apocryphes de Henry Kissinger: «C'est dommage que les deux ne puissent pas perdre."

 

Dans cet esprit, j'ai défendu alors l'aide américaine à la partie perdante, quelle qu'elle puisse être, comme dans cette analyse de mai 1987: "En 1980, quand l'Irak menaçait l'Iran, nos intérêts coïncidaient au moins en partie avec l'Iran. L'Irak a été mis sur la défensive depuis l'été 1982, et Washington se situe maintenant fermement de son côté…. Quant à l'avenir, si l'Iraq une fois de plus prend l'offensive, un changement peu probable mais pas impossible, les États-Unis devraient changer de nouveau et envisager de prêter l'appui à l'Iran."

 

L'application de cette même logique à la Syrie d'aujourd'hui trouve des parallèles remarquables. Assad joue le rôle de Saddam Hussein – le dictateur brutal baathiste qui a commencé la violence. Les forces rebelles ressemblent à l'Iran – la victime initiale se renforce au fil du temps et constitue un danger islamiste croissant. La poursuite des combats met en danger le voisinage. Les deux parties s'engagent dans des crimes de guerre et présentent un danger pour les intérêts occidentaux.

 

Oui, la survie d'Assad avantage Téhéran, le régime le plus dangereux de la région. Mais une victoire des rebelles relance énormément le gouvernement turc de plus en plus voyou tout en permettant aux djihadistes de triompher et de remplacer le gouvernement d'Assad par des islamistes triomphants et illuminés. La poursuite des combats fait moins de dégâts aux intérêts occidentaux que leur prise de pouvoir. Il y a des perspectives pires que les islamistes sunnites et chiites se mélangeant, que les djihadistes du Hamas tuant les djihadistes du hezbollah, et vice-versa. C'est mieux qu'aucune des parties ne gagne.

 

L'administration Obama tente une politique trop ambitieuse et subtile consistant à aider en même temps les bons rebelles avec les armes meurtrières clandestines et 114 millions en aide tout en se préparant pour d' éventuelles frappes de drones contre les mauvais rebelles. Bonne idée, mais manipuler les forces rebelles via la télécommande a peu de chance de succès. Inévitablement, l'aide va se retrouver avec les islamistes et les frappes aériennes tueront les alliés. Mieux vaut accepter ses propres limites et aspirer au faisable: appuyer le côté qui bat en retraite.

 

Dans le même temps, les Occidentaux doivent être fidèles aux valeurs morales qu'ils prêchent et aider à mettre fin à la guerre contre les civils, les millions d'innocents qui subissent gratuitement les horreurs de la guerre civile. Les gouvernements occidentaux devraient trouver des mécanismes pour contraindre les parties hostiles à respecter les règles de la guerre, en particulier celles qui permettent d'isoler les combattants des non-combattants. Ceci pourrait entraîner une pression sur les fournisseurs des rebelles (Turquie, Arabie Saoudite, Qatar) et les partisans du gouvernement syrien (Russie, Chine) conditionnant l'aide au respect des règles de la guerre; cela pourrait même impliquer l'usage occidental de la force contre les contrevenants de chaque côté. Ce serait assumer la responsabilité de protéger.

 

Le jour heureux quand Assad et Téhéran combattront les rebelles et Ankara jusqu'à l'épuisement mutuel, le soutien occidental pourra alors aller aux éléments non-baathistes et non-islamistes en Syrie, leur permettant d'offrir une alternative modérée aux choix malheureux d'aujourd'hui et conduire à un avenir meilleur.

 

L’Iran, Israël et l’exemple nord-coréen

Dore Gold

Le CAPE de Jérusalem, 11 avril

 

Une fois encore, sans surprise, les dernières négociations tenues au Kazakhstan entre l’Iran et les Etats-Unis, la Russie, la Chine, la France, la Grande-Bretagne et l’Allemagne se sont achevées sans aucun résultat.

 

Le chef de la délégation iranienne, Saïd Jailli, a accusé implicitement l’Etat d’Israël d’être responsable des difficultés en cours. Selon ses propos, Israël agit dans les coulisses pour faire pression sur les pays occidentaux et saboter tout compromis.

 

Ce genre d’accusation et le prétexte qu’elle induit ne sont pas nouveaux. Les prédécesseurs de Jailli ont toujours accusé Israël d’être responsable de l’impasse diplomatique entre l’Occident et l’Iran. Dans un article publié en janvier 2012 dans le New York Times, nous pouvons lire que le seul moyen d’assouplir les positions de Téhéran dans le domaine nucléaire serait la création d’une zone exempte d’armes nucléaires ; en clair : braquer les projecteurs sur  Israël… Fort heureusement, l’administration américaine a bien compris le message et a refusé de tenir une conférence internationale sur ce sujet. Le président Obama avait bien compris que devant les turbulences au Moyen-Orient et le tournant négatif pris par le “printemps arabe” le but de cette conférence n’était plus propice ni productif.

 

Il faut dire que l’idée même selon laquelle la détermination de l’Iran à acquérir des armes nucléaires serait liée à Israël est complètement fausse et erronée.La République islamique a renouvelé son programme nucléaire dans les années 1980 suite à l’expérience amère de la guerre Iran-Irak (1980-1988), pendant laquelle l’armée iranienne a été attaquée à plusieurs reprises, notamment par des armes chimiques utilisées par Saddam Hussein.

 

Après cette guerre qui a duré 8 longues années et a fait plus d’un million de victimes, Téhéran a cherché par tous les moyens à acquérir des armes nucléaires. Sa volonté était de devenir la première puissance du Moyen-Orient après la chute du régime irakien.

 

Cette aspiration de l’Iran à l’hégémonie régionale reste d’actualité et le rôle des Gardiens de la Révolution est crucial pour atteindre cet objectif. Le Bahreïn, par exemple, est décrit par des responsables iraniens comme l’une de leurs provinces… tandis que des milliers de soldats des Gardiens de la Révolution sont déployés sur le sol syrien afin d’empêcher la chute de Bachar el-Assad.

 

En réalité, l’ambition de l’Iran pour acquérir des armes nucléaires n’a plus pour objectif qu’elles deviennent un moyen de dissuasion, mais un moyen de répondre à ses aspirations régionales au Moyen-Orient. Les efforts de Jailli et de certains observateurs et chercheurs occidentaux pour détourner l’attention sur l’Etat juif ne changeront en rien la motivation iranienne de franchir la ligne rouge et de devenir, tôt ou tard, une puissance nucléaire.

 

Soulignons que le comportement de la Corée du Nord et la retenue des réactions occidentales influencent considérablement le dialogue présent entre l’Iran et les pays concernés. Rappelons que la Corée du Nord a expulsé les inspecteurs de l’AIEA, elle a produit du plutonium enrichi de qualité militaire, et elle a effectué trois essais atomiques. Le monde occidental n’a réagi qu’avec de nouvelles sanctions. Aujourd’hui, la Corée du Nord menace les Etats-Unis par l’arme atomique et donc chaque diplomate qui tente de dialoguer avec son homologue iranien devrait prendre en compte que le pays des ayatollahs pourrait facilement se retirer de tout éventuel accord. L’Iran trouvera toujours des prétextes et des excuses et se présentera toujours comme un “bouc émissaire” face à Israël.

 

John Baird brise un tabou à Jérusalem-Est

Radio-Canada, 11 avril 2013

 

Le ministre des Affaires étrangères du Canada, John Baird, minimise l'importance de sa rencontre avec la ministre de la Justice israélienne, Tzipi Livni, à Jérusalem-Est, la partie de la ville occupée et annexée par Israël depuis 1967.

 

À Londres jeudi matin, John Baird a réagi aux révélations du quotidien israélien Haaretz voulant que, lors de sa tournée au Moyen-Orient la semaine dernière, le ministre canadien s'était rendu au bureau de la ministre Livni, dérogeant ainsi à la politique de la plupart de ses homologues occidentaux, qui s'abstiennent de visiter les bureaux du gouvernement israélien à Jérusalem-Est pour ne pas sembler donner leur aval à l'annexion israélienne.

 

Sa priorité, a-t-il dit, était de rencontrer des responsables israéliens et de l'Autorité palestinienne pour parler du processus de paix. Sa visite à Jérusalem-Est n'est, selon lui, qu'une « discussion sémantique ».

 

« Le lieu où j'ai pris un café avec Tzipi Livni n'est pas pertinent et n'indique aucun changement dans la position canadienne. » — John Baird, ministre des Affaires étrangères du Canada

Le porte-parole du ministère israélien des Affaires étrangères, Yigal Palmor, a reconnu que des rencontres dans la partie occupée de la ville étaient peu communes, mais qu'« Il ne devrait y avoir rien d'anormal à rencontrer la ministre israélienne de la Justice à Jérusalem-Est. Ce qui est étrange, c'est que cela soit l'exception », a-t-il ajouté.

 

Le quotidien Haaretz révèle également que, lors de sa visite dans la région, M. Baird s'est aussi rendu dans une base militaire israélienne établie sur le Golan syrien, une autre zone occupée et annexée par Israël en 1981, une annexion non reconnue par la communauté internationale.

 

Un haut responsable du ministère israélien des Affaires étrangères a affirmé au quotidien israélien que M. Baird avait effectué ces deux visites contre les recommandations de l'ambassade du Canada en Israël.

 

Interrogé par Radio-Canada, le porte-parole de John Baird, Rick Roth, a déclaré que le ministre « voulait connaître le point de vue » de Mme Livni sur le processus de paix au Proche-Orient, étant donné qu'elle est la ministre responsable des négociations avec les Palestiniens. Il a affirmé que le ministre, à titre d'invité, avait rencontré ses hôtes « au moment qui leur convenait le mieux ».

 

À l'issue de sa visite, mardi, M. Baird a réaffirmé l'alliance « étroite et spéciale » entre le Canada et Israël.Le Canada est l'un des soutiens les plus solides d'Israël, en particulier face au programme nucléaire iranien, et a été l'un des rares pays à s'opposer à l'accession de la Palestine au statut d'État observateur à l'ONU. Au sein du Cabinet, M. Baird est l'un des plus fervents partisans d'Israël.