The US-engineered and guaranteed Israel-Lebanon maritime/gas accord is supposed to follow in the footsteps of the Israel-Arab peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, reducing regional terrorism and instability, inducing moderation and enhancing US interests. Does it?
Hezbollah and Lebanon
*The Shiite Hezbollah – Iran’s proxy and globally recognized terrorist organization – is a dominant player in the increasingly imploding, failed-state, Lebanon, politically, militarily, socially, educationally, religiously and journalistically.
Hezbollah has dramatically bolstered its capabilities and clout since its establishment in 1982 – by Iran’s Shiite Ayatollahs – as a vehicle to export the Shiite Islamic Revolution, extend the Ayatollahs’ reach from the Persian Gulf, through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to the eastern Mediterranean, and undermine the US strategic posture in the Middle East. Hezbollah has collaborated with Iran’s Ayatollahs in the Middle East, West Africa and throughout Latin America, all the way to the US-Mexico border. It has gained substantial sway due to its major contribution to the survival of the Assad regime. Hezbollah has benefited from the Ayatollahs’ financial support, combat training, and the supply of precise missiles and predator unmanned aerial vehicles.
*Hezbollah’s dominant role in Lebanon’s decision-making has led the pro-US Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to ostracize Lebanon and suspend financial aid to Beirut, lest it bolsters Hezbollah’s stature.
Israel’s maritime accord vs. Israel-Arab peace treaties
*Israel’s peace treaties with the relatively-stable, pro-US, anti-Iran and anti-terrorist Sunni Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, with the blessing of Saudi Arabia, which generated a critical impetus to the Abraham Accords. Their policy and vision do not extend beyond their own national boundaries.
On the other hand, the maritime/gas accord was concluded with the uncontrollable Lebanon, which is afflicted by intrinsic religious, ethnic and political fragmentation, that has been leveraged by the violently domineering, anti-US, pro-Iran Hezbollah, a major arm of Islamic terrorism in the Middle East, west Africa and Latin America. Hezbollah is dedicated to advancing the fanatic vision of a universal Shiite Moslem society, through the exportation of the Ayatollahs’ Shiite Islamic Revolution, toppling all Sunni (“apostate” and “heretic”) Sunni regimes, transforming the Republic of Lebanon into the Islamic Republic of Lebanon, a province of a universal Shiite Islamic entity, and bringing the “infidel” West (especially “the Great American Satan) to submission.
*The Abraham Accords were signed with regimes, which have accepted peaceful-coexistence with Israel and are focused on domestic stability, including economic growth.
Nonetheless, the maritime/gas accord was concluded with a country, dominated by Hezbollah, which perceives peaceful-coexistence with the Jewish state and its Sunni Arab neighbors an anathema to its fanatic vision, and has made it clear – since establishment – that its ideology supersedes financial and diplomatic benefits.
The conventional Western wisdom that Hezbollah will choose economic benefits over ideology should be assessed against the backdrop of the track record of Iran’s Ayatollahs and their adherence to their core ideology irrespective of the mega-billion-dollars of Western gifts, showered upon them by the US and the West since 1979. In addition, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have exhibited faithfulness to hate-education, incitement and terrorism, notwithstanding the unprecedented geographic, diplomatic and financial concessions made by Israel, the US and the world at-large.
*The Abraham Accords were concluded with Arab regimes, which consider Israel as a most effective military and technological ally in the face of lethal threats and in their pursuit of economic diversification.
While these Arab regimes are not fully-reconciled to the existence of an “infidel” Jewish sovereignty in the “abode of Islam” (the Middle East), they do not consider it a top priority, realizing the potential Israeli contribution to their survival. Moreover, some of them (especially the UAE) are moderating their education curriculum and policy toward Israel, rethinking Islam’s fundamental view of the Jewish people and the Jewish State.
On the other hand, Hezbollah and their masters in Tehran, consider Israel as a loathsome entity, religiously and strategically, to be uprooted, in order to advance their fanatic, religious, megalomaniacal vision.
They recognize the Jewish State as the most effective beachhead of “The Great American Satan,” culturally and strategically, and a powerful ally of the “apostate” Sunni Arab regimes.
*All Israel-Arab peace treaties resulted from a deep appreciation, by the Arab partners, of Israel’s military, technological and diplomatic capabilities, including its military defiance of Iran and Hezbollah, and its ability to fend off US pressure, which have demonstrated Israel’s willingness to assume short-term setbacks, in order to benefit from long-term national security benefits. The pro-US Arab regimes consider Israel’s posture of deterrence as a key component of their own national security.
On the other hand, the maritime/gas accord, was brokered by the US under the assumption that an Israeli giveaway of the entire area in dispute (330 square miles of economic water and 10 square kilometers of sovereign water) would avert a Hezbollah threat to launch an attack of missiles and predator unmanned vehicles. In other words, a sweeping capitulation, rather than confrontation and preemption of a terrorist threat.
*The maritime/gas accord – which reflects the State Department worldview that concessions made to terrorists could induce moderation – has eroded Israel’s posture of deterrence, which has transformed Israel (since 1967) into the most productive force-multiplier for the US, and a desirable ally of the pro-US Arab regimes, in the face of lethal threats.
The bottom line
*The US architects of the maritime/gas accord and their Israeli partners overlook the fact that terrorists bite the hands that feed them. For example, the Mujahideen defeated the Soviets in Afghanistan due to US support, and were quick to launch a major terror offensive against the US in the Middle East and in the US itself. Furthermore, Iran’s Ayatollahs seized power in Iran due to US support, and then became the lead epicenter of global anti-US terrorism. Moreover, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas responded to unprecedented Israeli gestures in 1993 (the Oslo Accord) and 2005 (the disengagement from Gaza) with unprecedented hate-education, incitement and terrorism.
*The US architects and their Israeli partners have ignored the fact that concessions to terrorists – just like any other rogue entity – whets their appetite and intensifies terrorism.
*The maritime/gas accord represents a victory of Western conventional wisdom over Middle East reality, sacrificing long-term national security on the altar of short-term gratification, which plays into the hands of rogue entities (e.g., Iran’s Ayatollahs, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority), undermining the homeland and national security of Western democracies (e.g., the US, Europe and Israel).
*At a time, when most Iranians, and especially Iranian women, are rising against the repressive regime of the Ayatollahs, demanding regime-change, the US-engineered maritime/gas accord bolsters the Ayatollahs’ geo-strategic posture, while repeating the critically erroneous policy of 2009, when the US ignored the popular uprising in Iran, allowing the Ayatollahs to butcher its unarmed citizens.
*The US-engineered maritime/gas accord provides a tailwind to the Ayatollahs and their Hezbollah proxy, while ruling out active support of the regime-change movement in Iran; waiving an essential US military option (which is the only way to test the Ayatollahs’ intentions); sustaining the self-destructive diplomatic option (which has bolstered the Ayatollahs’ fortunes since their ascension to power in February 1979); assuming that the Ayatollahs are potentially good-faith negotiators; and viewing the Ayatollahs as if they were amenable to peaceful-coexistence, abandoning their 1,400-year-old fanatic, imperialistic vision, in return for another financial and diplomatic bonanza, which is currently offered – by the US – to Tehran.
*Against the backdrop of the aforementioned data, the US-engineered maritime/gas accord, is an extension of the well-intentioned US policy in the Middle East, which has been at odds with Middle East reality, intensifying regional terrorism and instability and eroding US posture and interests.