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The US-Iran Syndrome: Leverage or Squander?

Western leaders tend to sacrifice long-term, complex national security strategic goals on the altar of short-term, easily-grasped tactical gains. This is a derivative of flawed leadership and the fundamentals of democratic political systems and societies: the pre-determined, relatively-short political life-expectancy of leaders and legislators; the centrality of public opinion; the reservations about conducting wars overseas; the high-sensitivity to war casualties; etc.  


For example, in 2003, the US focused on the clear and present threat posed by Saddam Hussein, but downplayed its ripple effect on the larger context, including the threats posed by the Ayatollahs of Iran and other forms of Islamic terrorism. Thus, the US military toppled the repressive, terroristic, imperialistic Sunni-Ba’ath regime of Saddam Hussein, and transferred the helm to Iraq’s Shiites, who account for 50% of Iraq’s population, compared to 30% Sunni and 20% Kurdish.

However, empowering Iraq’s Shiites frustrated and threatened the senior Iraqi Sunni military, tribal and political personnel, driving them
to the folds of Sunni Islamic terror organizations, such as ISIS, the Islamic Army in Iraq, Al Qaeda Iraq and the Mujahidin Army of Iraq.  Moreover, the devastation of Iraq – an historically geostrategic counter balance to Iran – has dramatically upgraded the regional and global power-projection of the Ayatollahs, paving the road to their domination of Iraq. This has provided a tailwind to their predominance in Syria and, increasingly, in Lebanon, intensifying regional volatility, and posing a lethal threat to all pro-US Arab Sunni regimes.  Thus, the spoils of a just US military victory were snatched by an arch-enemy, the Ayatollahs.

In 2017, the US has intensified its war on ISIS in Iraq and Syria, bringing ISIS to the verge of defeat.  However, a defeat of the Sunni ISIS triggers ripple effects, such as bolstering the fortunes of two satellite regimes of Teheran: the Alawites in Damascus and the Shiites in Baghdad. Therefore, the failure to leverage the defeat of ISIS as a stepping-stone towards the toppling of the chief enemy, the Ayatollahs, would upgrade the regional and global, destructive power-projection of the “Death-to-America” Ayatollahs, whose machete is at the throat of all pro-US Arab regimes. 

The grand design of the Ayatollahs is to coalesce territorial continuity from Iran in the Persian Gulf, through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon (and its 30%-40% Shiite component) on the Mediterranean, proceeding to topple the pro-US Sunni regimes in the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf, Jordan and Egypt, gaining control over the paramount, strategic straits of Hormuz and Bab-el-Mandeb, much of the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, the Muslim World and then the world at-large.

Since their rise to power in 1979, the agenda of the Ayatollahs has been independent of – and drastically beyond – the Palestinian issue, but for one cardinal issue: they are aware that a Palestinian state in the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria would dramatically erode the power-projection of Israel (“the Little Satan”), which would deny the US (“the Great Satan”) and its Arab allies a most effective beachhead in the Middle East. The Palestinian issue has not been relevant to the Ayatollahs grand design – which is based on a 1,400 year old Islamic ethos – nor to the Saudi appreciation of Israel’s assistance in removing the Ayatollahs’ machete from their throat.

Contrary to Western foreign policy establishments, which profess negotiation and compromise with – and substantial concessions to – the Ayatollahs, the latter’s
school curriculum highlights the megalomaniacal, supremacist, apocalyptic, terroristic, anti-US nature of the Ayatollahs, who pose a clear and present threat to the US homeland and national security.

On
May 24, 2017, Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, told the graduates of Imam Hossein Military Academy: “the Greater Jihad as steadfastness and defiance of the Arrogance Front [led by the USA]…must top the agenda of the Islamic Revolution….”  The Ayatollahs consider the July 2015 nuclear agreement a reaffirmation of Western vacillation, a tenuous, tactical agreement with “the modern-day-crusader, arrogant, Great Satan,” to be abrogated as befits agreements concluded with “infidels,” in accordance with the Quran and Muhammad’s legacy. Currently, the Ayatollahs employ the North Korean venue to obtain nuclear mega-capability, in order to remove the US mega-obstacle to the mega-goal of dominating the Persian Gulf, the Middle East and the world.

The Ayatollahs, on the one hand, and compromise, moderation, stability and peaceful-coexistence, on the other hand, constitute a classic oxymoron. Hence, a regime-change in Teheran is a prerequisite for reducing regional and global turbulence. 

Moreover, while the opposition to the Ayatollahs is gaining ground, their ruthless regime, and the passivity of the West during the
2009 attempted uprising, precludes a peaceful transition of power.

Will the US leverage – or squander – the current offensive against ISIS, leveraging the tactical gain in order to score a strategic victory against the Ayatollahs?  Will the US preempt – or react to – the Ayatollahs’ access to nuclear capability? Will the US resurrect its independence of unilateral military action, highlighting its own national and homeland security considerations, or will the US sacrifice this on the altar of multilateralism, which yields the lowest common denominator of geostrategic effectiveness? Will the US and Israel follow a reality-based policy in removing the Ayatollahs threat, or will they be duped, and stalled, by a false linkage between the Ayatollahs and the Palestinian issue?



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The Abraham Accords – the US, Arab interests and Israel

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan believe that the expansion of the Abraham Accords, the enhancement of Israel-Saudi defense and commercial cooperation and the conclusion of an Israel-Saudi Arabia peace accord are preconditioned upon major Israeli concessions to the Palestinian Authority.

Is such a belief consistent with Middle East reality?

Arab interests

*The signing of the Abraham Accords, and the role played by Saudi Arabia as a critical engine of the accords, were driven by the national security, economic and diplomatic interests of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and the Sudan.

*The Arab interest in peace accords with Israel was not triggered by the realization that the Jewish State was genuinely seeking peaceful-coexistence, nor by a departure from the fundamental tenets of Islam. It was motivated by the assessment that critical concerns of the respective Arab countries would be effectively-served by Israel’s advanced military (Qualitative Military Edge), technological and diplomatic capabilities in the face of mutual and lethal enemies, such as Iran’s Ayatollahs and Muslim Brotherhood terrorism.

*Saudi Arabia and the six Arab peace partners of Israel (including Egypt and Jordan) are aware that the Middle East resembles a volcano, which occasionally releases explosive lava – domestically and/or regionally – in an unpredictable manner, as evidenced by the 1,400-year-old stormy intra-Arab/Muslim relations, and recently demonstrated by the Arab Tsunami, which erupted in 2011 and still rages.

They wish to minimize the impact of rogue regimes, and therefore are apprehensive about the nature of the proposed Palestinian state, in view of the rogue Palestinian inter-Arab track record, which has transformed Palestinians into an intra-Arab role model of subversion, terrorism, treachery and ingratitude.

*They are anxious about the erosion of the US posture of deterrence, which is their most critical component of national security, and alarmed about the 43-year-old US diplomatic option toward Iran’s Ayatollahs, which has bolstered the Ayatollahs’ terroristic, drug trafficking and ballistic capabilities. They are also concerned about the US’ embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the largest Sunni terrorist entity with religious, educational, welfare and political branches. And, they are aware of the ineffectiveness of NATO (No Action Talk Only?), the European vacillation, and the vulnerability of all other Arab countries.

Israel’s role

*Saudi Arabia and the Arab partners to peace accords with Israel feel the machetes of the Ayatollahs and the Moslem Brotherhood at their throats. They consider Israel as the most reliable “life insurance agent” in the region.  They view Israel as the most effective US force-multiplier in the Middle East, and appreciate Israel’s proven posture of deterrence; flexing its military muscles against Iran’s Ayatollahs in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran itself and against Palestinian and Hezbollah terrorism. They respect Israel’s unique counter-terrorism intelligence and training capabilities, and its game-changing military and counter-terrorism battle tactics and technologies.

*The Arab view of Israel as a reliable partner on “a rainy day” has been bolstered by Israel’s willingness to defy US pressure, when it comes to Israel’s most critical national security and historic credos (e.g., Iran, Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria).  In addition, Saudi Arabia and Israel’s peace-partners aim to leverage Israel’s good-standing among most Americans – and therefore among most Senators and House Representatives – as a venue to enhance their military, commercial and diplomatic ties with the US.

*Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are preoccupied with the challenge of economic diversification, realizing that they are overly-reliant on oil and natural gas, which are exposed to price-volatility, depletion and could be replaced by emerging cleaner and more cost-effective energy.

Thus, they consider Israel’s ground-breaking technologies as a most effective vehicle to diversify their economy, create more jobs in non-energy sectors, and establish a base for alternative sources of national income, while bolstering homeland and national security.

*The Abraham Accords – as well as Israel’s peace accords with Egypt and Jordan – and the unprecedented expansion of defense and commercial cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Israel, demonstrate that critical Arab national security interests may supersede fundamental tenets of Islam, such as the 1,400-year-old rejection of any “infidel” sovereignty in “the abode of Islam.”  Moreover, critical national security interests may lead to a dramatic moderation of the (Arab) education system, which is the most authentic reflection of one’s vision and policies.

Thus, contrary to the Palestinian Authority, the United Arab Emirates has uprooted hate-education curriculum, replacing it with pro-Israel/Jewish curriculum.

Abraham Accords’ durability

*The success of the Abraham Accords was a result of avoiding the systematic mistakes committed by the US State Department. The latter has produced a litany of failed peace proposals, centered on the Palestinian issue, while the Abraham accords bypassed the Palestinian issue, avoiding a Palestinian veto, and focusing on Arab interests. Therefore, the durability of the Abraham Accords depends on the interests of the respective Arab countries, and not on the Palestinian issue, which is not a top priority for any Arab country.

*The durability of the Abraham Accords depends on the stability of the individual Arab countries and the Middle East at-large.

*The Abraham Accord have yielded initial and unprecedented signs of moderation, modernity and peaceful coexistence, which requires the US to support the respective pro-US Arab regimes, rather than pressuring them (e.g., Saudi Arabia and the UAE).

*However, one should not ignore the grave threats to the durability of the accords, posed by the volcanic nature of the unstable, highly-fragmented, unpredictable, violently intolerant, non-democratic and tenuous Middle East (as related to intra-Arab relations!).  These inherent threats would be dramatically alleviated by a resolute US support.

*A major threat to the Abraham Accord is the tenuous nature of most Arab regimes in the Middle East, which yields tenuous policies and tenuous accords. For example, in addition to the Arab Tsunami of 2010 (which is still raging on the Arab Street), non-ballot regime-change occurred (with a dramatic change of policy) in Egypt (2013, 2012, 1952), Iran (1979, 1953), Iraq (2003, 1968, 1963-twice, 1958), Libya (2011, 1969), Yemen (a civil war since the ’90s, 1990, 1962), etc.

*Regional stability, the Abraham Accords and US interests would be undermined by the proposed Palestinian state west of the Jordan River (bearing in mind the intra-Arab Palestinian track record). It would topple the pro-US Hashemite regime east of the River; transforming Jordan into another platform of regional and global Islamic terrorism, similar to Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen; triggering a domino scenario, which would threaten every pro-US Arab oil-producing country in the Arabian Peninsula; yielding a robust tailwind to Iran’s Ayatollahs, Russia and China and a major headwind to the US.

*While Middle East reality defines policies and accords as variable components of national security, the topography and geography of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and the Golan Heights are fixed components of Israel’s minimal security requirements in the reality of the non-Western Middle East. Israel’s fixed components of national security have secured its survival, and have dramatically enhanced its posture of deterrence. They transformed the Jewish State into a unique force and dollar multiplier for the US.

*The more durable the Abraham Accords and the more robust Israel’s posture of deterrence, the more stable the pro-US Arab regimes and the Middle East at-large; the more deterred are anti-US rogue regimes; the less potent are Middle Eastern epicenters of anti-US terrorism and drug trafficking; the more bolstered is the US global posture and the weaker is the posture of the US’ enemies and adversaries.

*Would the Arab regimes of the Abraham Accords precondition their critical ties with Israel upon Israeli concessions to the Palestinians, which they view as a rogue element? Would they sacrifice their national security and economic interests on the altar of the Palestinian issue? Would they cut off their nose to spite their face?

The fact that these Arab regimes concluded the Abraham Accords without preconditioning it upon Israeli concessions to the Palestinians, and that they limit their support of the Palestinians to talk, rather than walk, provides an answer to these three questions.

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