MIDEAST MIRROR 07.07.15, SECTION A (ISRAEL)
Waiting for the deal
Yedioth Ahronoth and Israel Hayom lead their Tuesday editions with the announcement Monday that the IDF is establishing a new Commando Division, which will institute new training protocols and missions for some of the army's elite units: Duvdevan, Maglan, Egoz, and Rimon. The new division will incorporate the special skills of each of the units – for example, elite Duvedvan fighters specialize in urban combat, while Egoz troops specialize in anti-guerilla warfare in all settings – designing missions that will further enhance the capabilities of the army, especially in emergency situations.
The plan was announced by IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot. The new division is part of a reorganization of the army, which the IDF is undertaking in order to more effectively respond to new threats, a spokesperson said. Commanding the division will be IDF Reserve General Ofer Winter. Winter achieved media notoriety last year when, speaking to soldiers who were on their way to the front in Operation Protective Edge, said that, 'We are now setting off to fight the terrorist enemy in Gaza, who curses and stamps their feet at the God of Israel.'
Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post lead with Iran. Both papers headline the fact that Tuesday’s deadline for an agreement between Iran and the six world powers now seems unlikely to be met, after the world powers objected to some of Iran’s new demands Monday – including a call to lift an arms sales ban on the Islamic Republic.
According to Haaretz, however, a deal is still widely expected to be reached by this weekend, since negotiators view the latest Iranian moves as mere brinkmanship. Despite declarations on both sides that they are ready to walk away – which may be intended in part to help market the agreement to both Iranian and American public opinion – neither wants to be the one who actually prevented a deal at the last minute, Haaretz says.
Responding to the latest developments in Vienna, the White House announced on Monday night that a lasting agreement with Iran must proceed along the lines of the framework, signed in April. According to the framework agreement, Iran's military installations would be placed under international supervision and sanctions against the Islamic Republic would be ended gradually. According to Ynet, an unnamed German diplomat has stated that the nuclear negotiations may still end in failure. 'We should not underestimate important questions that remain unresolved. There will not be an agreement at any cost. If there is no movement on decisive points, a failure is not ruled out,' he said, anonymously.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that there is no breakthrough in the Iran nuclear talks, but a breakdown. In remarks at a meeting with the visiting Greek foreign minister, Netanyahu said that it is better not to reach a deal at all, than to sign on a bad one. Haaretz also adds that that Netanyahu is now readying himself for an all-out war on the nuclear deal – with the focus of his attention on Capitol Hill in Washington. Barak Ravid says that Netanyahu's goal was and remains to enlist enough members from both houses of Congress to vote against the nuclear deal with Iran when President Obama puts it on the docket. And according to the report, the prime minister seems optimistic about his chances. One source told the newspaper that Netanyahu recently told Jewish-American leaders that the battle is not lost.
Finally, the papers report on the arrest of six residents of the Bedouin town of Hora, in the Negev, for allegedly supporting ISIS. Of the six, four are teachers who are suspected of exploiting their position to spread ISIS ideology among their students. Allegedly, some of the suspects had planned to travel to Syria to join Islamic State. The Shin Bet has questioned other teachers who are believed to have been aware of their colleagues' activities, and a school principal who is suspected of looking the other way, instead of cracking down on the activities of the teachers.
THE SCIENCE OF SELLING: Writing in Yedioth Ahronoth, Alex Fishman says that the nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers comes down to the Americans marketing an Iranian plan for regional domination.
"In Washington, they have already written the speech that U.S. President Barack Obama will deliver once the nuclear agreement with Iran is signed. The agreement stands on two legs, both of which are extremely precarious. The first leg determines that Iran will remain a year away from the breakthrough point when it has enough enriched uranium to manufacture a nuclear bomb. The second leg deals with the tight regime of inspection on the Islamic Republic's nuclear facilities, which will last around a decade. All the rest – how inspections will take place in the future, what Iran will be obligated to reveal about its past nuclear activities, when sanctions will be lifted and under what circumstances they will be imposed anew – is a mixture of legal jargon which will, over time, wipe out any of the achievements that the White House thinks it has made.
The Iranians continue to drive the Americans crazy right up to the last moment. Earlier this week, they made a new demand that had not been part of the negotiating process thus far. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif demanded out of the blue that all limitations on Iranian production of ballistic missiles be lifted. This is a total violation of all of the understandings that were reached over Iran's agreement to join the Missile Technology Control Regime. Until yesterday, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, along with the German representative to the talks, tried to understand whether this was a genuine demand from the Iranians, or whether it was merely another attempt to extract concessions from the Western powers. The Iranians are continuing to exert pressure and they will do so right up to the deadline for signing an agreement – and maybe even afterwards. Why? Because they can.
On July 9, the U.S. Congress will go on its summer recess. By July 8, the Obama Administration must present Congress with the detailed agreement, including all and any appendices. According to the U.S. Constitution, Congress has 30 days to inspect and approve the document. If the agreement is submitted after July 9, the whole deal will be put on ice for at least two months. The Obama Administration rightly believes that two months is too long and that opponents of the agreement in both houses will have an opportunity to try and nix it. If, however, the agreement is submitted for Congressional approval now, the administration has the requisite majority needed to approve it. That is why experts in Jerusalem are convinced that the deal will be signed this week.
In this campaign, Israel – which has been waging a 15-year rearguard action – has lost. The Israeli defense establishment is already dealing with the day after: what bundle of compensation will Israel demand from the United States, what strategy will Israel adopt in this new era and how much money will be invested in dealing with the Iranian threat. It is highly likely that Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who is in Italy this week, will share with his hosts Israel's concerns about the agreement.
Last weekend, the United States and the Europeans overcame one of the last major hurdles by establishing a path that bypasses the Security Council. The Iranians were keen that any alleged violation of the agreement on their part be taken directly to the Security Council, where they would enjoy the automatic veto power of the Chinese and the Russians, which would ensure that sanctions are not imposed anew. But the Western powers managed to pass a resolution that established a seven-member committee, on which the Americans have a permanent majority of four. This committee would have the power to determine whether Iran has violated the terms of the agreement and whether sanctions should be re-imposed. However, the Iranians would also have the right to submit as many complaints as they like if the Western powers were to fail to abide by the timetable and terms of the agreement – which would inundate and paralyze the committee.
The Americans have put all of their eggs in the International Atomic Energy Agency basket. The IAEA is supposed to examine what Iran is up to in terms of its nuclear-military activity and it is also supposed to keep close tabs on whether Iran is living up to its future commitments. Thus far, however, the Iranians have not allowed a single IAEA inspector to visit their military facilities and to examine its past activities. As for the future, the Iranians continue to insist that any 'spontaneous' visit to any of its military facilities be coordinated in advance with Tehran.
As soon as the agreement is signed, the Iranians will get $150 billion that have been frozen in western banks. Now they are also demanding the immediate cancellation of all the sanctions imposed by the Security Council and the lifting, within six months, of sanctions imposed by the U.S. Congress. The Americans have responded: Iran can get the money, but the Security Council sanctions and the Congressional sanctions will only be lifted once the International Atomic Energy Agency files its report on the Islamic Republic's previous attempts to obtain military nuclear capability. That should happen within six months. And what about future inspections? Here, too, the sides are working to find a solution and have been trying to come up with some formulation that President Obama can sell to Congress. In fact, every decision that the Americans have made over the past few days have been marketing decisions – how to get Congress to approve the deal. If the Obama Administration had been in power in 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis, the Soviet Union would now be running the world.
The Obama Administration is worried that the shameful scenes that we saw when the interim agreement was signed in Lausanne in March will repeat themselves. At the time, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presented the outline of the agreement and the Iranians claimed that it did not reflect their discussions. This time, therefore, the Americans are insisting that everything is signed, sealed and delivered – so that the negotiating parties can sell the deal to their respective purchasers in Tehran and Washington. The Americans invested in the science of selling. So, in the end, we will have an Iranian product that will alter the balance of power in the Middle East, and the Americans will aggressively market it."
BLAME BIBI: Writing in Israel Hayom, Haim Shine says that it is inconceivable that some Israeli politicians are blaming Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for failing to prevent the Iranian nuclear deal, when he has spent the past few years warning the world time and time again.
"The United States and the so-called European powers have decided to give in to the Iranians' demands. They don't have the energy or the will to confront the world's leading terrorist nation. The West is tired and exhausted; it has lost its vitality and its vigor. With their national anthems playing in the background – music that once represented a greatness of spirit and courage – they are folding up their flags. U.S. President Barack Obama, who is in the final stages of his presidency, is preoccupied with the legacy he hopes to leave behind him. There is none of the sense of responsibility that one could expect from the leader of the free world. His historic perspective is limited to the last day of his tenure. A nuclear-armed Iran will be a problem that he leaves for whoever comes after him. Obama and the representatives of the other nations have, it seems, decided to turn the West into a Persian carpet – and the ayatollah from Tehran are about to march all over it, with nuclear weapons in tow.
Obama's capitulation is reminiscent of a different but equally shameful one, on a bitter and fateful night in September 1938. That was the night Neville Chamberlain, the prime minister of Great Britain, and Édouard Daladier, his French counterpart, signed the Munich Agreement with Adolph Hitler. That was an agreement that will live on in infamy.
When Chamberlain returned to Britain, he gave an impassioned speech in front of an enthusiastic audience; he waved a piece of paper and explained that he had secured 'peace in our time.' Many people, including the U.S. president and the Pope, praised the agreement. Chamberlain's popularity reached new heights. Only Winston Churchill, sitting on the opposition benches, was a dissenting voice. 'You were given the choice between war and dishonor,' he told the prime minister. 'You chose dishonor and you will have war.' Is it conceivable that Churchill would take the blame for Chamberlain's great mistake? Not in Britain.
In Israel, Yair Lapid is rubbing his hands in glee. Once again, he has the opportunity to blame Binyamin Netanyahu for something that the prime minister is not responsible for. Without batting an eyelid, Lapid and his cronies have declared that Netanyahu has failed. As if our prime minister were in charge of the West's negotiating team; as if the Israeli leader were about to sign this shameful agreement. Instead of accusing the leaders of the Western nations of weakness, Lapid and his allies prefer to make a small political gain out of Israel's most pressing strategic threat. They will be surprised to discover that the Israeli public knows how to recognize responsibility and that it despises petty politicking.
Wherever he went in the world, Netanyahu warned against the Iranian nuclear deal. Many political figures in Israel criticized him, saying that he was merely scaremongering. And now – I can hardly believe the cynicism – they are blaming him for the fact that Western leaders aren't heeding his warnings."
ISRAELIS AND ISIS: Writing in Maariv, Yossi Melman calls on leaders of the Israeli-Arab community to be part of the effort to ensure that young Arab citizens of Israel are not tempted to join the ranks of ISIS and al-Qa’ida.
"The indictment filed against several residents of the Bedouin town of Hura in the Negev, who are suspected of belonging to and supporting ISIS, should be a major cause of concern for all of us. It should worry not only the Shin Bet, but also the Israeli police and other law-enforcement bodies. But more than anything else, it should set off the alarm bells for leaders of the Israeli-Arab community: Knesset members, council leaders, journalists and intellectuals.
The suspects who have been charged are teachers who worked in Hura and Rahat and who inculcated in their students the philosophy and ideology of ISIS and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Young Muslims, often so young that they are still in middle school, are an important target for the digitalized propaganda of the murderous terrorist organization that now controls large parts of Syria and Iraq. Every day, fresh photographs of children carrying weapons are uploaded onto the Internet. These children are especially susceptible to brainwashing. In the past, there have also been horrifying photographs of children decapitating prisoners who fell into ISIS' hands.
This is not the first time that Israel has filed indictments against Arab citizens who organized and established secret cells and who planned to join the ranks of ISIS. Some of the members of this new organization planned to leave Israel on a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia – and from there to try and contact ISIS. Among the members of pervious groups that were arrested were not just young, frustrated and unemployed youths; there were also teachers, a doctor and even a lawyer. According to Israel's defense establishment, 47 Arab citizens infiltrated Syria and joined ISIS or al-Qa’ida. It seems that the number is steadily rising. Of the few who returned to Israel, all have been put on trial and sentenced to lengthy terms behind bars. The absolute number is small – no more than 100 Arab citizens of Israel have been won over by the ideology of hatred and death that ISIS represents. That is a negligible fraction of the total number of Israeli-Arab citizens, of whom there are around 1.5 million.
In order to prevent these isolated incidents becoming a broader phenomenon, the leaders of the Arab community in Israel must act quickly and responsibly. They must unequivocally reject the phenomenon without stuttering, without hesitation. They must also engage in a serious campaign of education. It is not enough for the Shin Bet to keep close tabs on social media. The Shin Bet is designed to prevent rather than discourage. Israeli Arab leaders must be part of the effort to ensure that their people do not go down this slippery slope."
JORDAN CLEANUP: Writing in Calcalist, Danny Rubinstein says that, if an ambitious plan for the resuscitation of the Jordan Valley is adopted, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority all stand to gain.
"EcoPeace Middle East – formerly known as Friends of the Earth – has branches in Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Two weeks ago, it held a conference on the eastern banks of the Dead Sea, at which it presented its master plan for reviving the Jordan River, which has been suffering from criminal neglect for many years and has dangerously dried up.
The plan was drawn up by Dutch civil engineering firm DHV, which is one of the largest in the world. It was financed by the European Union. The ecological and economic ramifications are important for all three entities: Israel, Jordan and the PA.
The Jordan Valley is home to some 600,000 people. Most of them – around half a million – live in the central part of the Jordan Valley, which is Jordanian territory; a minority, some 50,000 Israelis and 56,000 Palestinians, live in the Western section of the Jordan Valley, which is part of Israel and the West Bank. In the not-so-distant past, some 1.3 billion cubic meters of water flowed from the Sea of Galilee and the tributaries of the Jordan River. In recent years, however, the river has become a filthy channel of sewage. The current situation has given rise to a whole host of proposals for ecological and economic infrastructure that has been neglected this far. The EcoPeace conference has created an opportunity for political cooperation between the three countries with a vested interest in the Jordan Valley.
In order to resuscitate the Jordan River, water must be allowed to flow from the Sea of Galilee. In 2013, Israel reopened the sluices after a 50-year hiatus. Since then, some 9 million cubic meters of water flows into the Jordan every year. This has been made possible by the fact that Israel has drastically reduced the amount of water that it pumps out of the Sea of Galilee into the national water pipeline. Although this is a relatively small amount of water – compared to the 650 million cubic meters that once flowed southward out of the Sea of Galilee – it is augmented by the water that flows from the Jordan's tributaries. In addition to increasing the amount of water, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority must also tackle the problem of pollution, which gets worse the further south one gets. According to the EcoPeace plan, these three countries would have to coordinate treatment at the source of the pollution, as well as water management and other developments along the course of the entire Jordan Valley.
In the short term – five years, say – the EcoPeace plan will require an investment of $495 million, which will be provided by global bodies such as the International Monetary Fund. Of this, $330 million would be earmarked for economic projects in Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, including agriculture development, greenhouses, irrigation systems and expanding the marketing of produce to the West Bank, Israel and perhaps even the Gulf States. There is also huge potential in tourist sites in ancient Jericho, the baptismal sites on the northern banks of the Dead Sea and in eastern Jordan. According to the EcoPeace plan, some $165 million will also be spent on Israeli projects, including tourist sites and sporting venues in the Jordan Valley. This would also include the rehabilitation of Ottoman structures in the Old City of Beit She'an. If the plan is adopted and implemented, everyone stands to gain."
THE GAZA QUAGMIRE: Writing on the Times of Israel website, Naomi Chazan says that now is the time to end the cycle of violence and despair in the Gaza Strip.
"Gaza is, once again, on one’s mind. Between the renewal of rocket attacks, another thwarted flotilla, the UN Human Rights Council’s report on last summer’s Gaza war, the first anniversary of that operation this week, the commemoration of ten years since Israel’s Gaza disengagement and intense IS activity in the Sinai with multiple ramifications for Hamas hegemony in the area, it could hardly be otherwise.
But unless the current preoccupation with Gaza is utilized to take a hard look at Israel’s approach to the Gaza conundrum, the situation will only yield more of the same — or worse. After years of replicating and then multiplying the same mistakes, Israel must now revise its policies or prepare itself to senselessly repeat past patterns at an even greater cost to all concerned.
The unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 was designed to externalize the task of maintaining control over one of the most impoverished and densely populated areas of the world by shifting this burden to the Palestinians. The disengagement, however, was not complete. Israel continued to control all points of access in the Strip. No arrangements were made for a transfer of power, thus creating a political vacuum which was quickly filled by Hamas — whose hegemony was confirmed barely six months later following its overwhelming victory in the January 2006 elections to the Palestinian Legislative Assembly. The subsequent blockade on Gaza imposed by Israeli authorities was intended to create a popular groundswell against the fundamentalist regime. It simultaneously sustained the divide between Gaza and the West Bank and perpetuated the myth that the Palestinian Authority, unable to oversee events in its bifurcated territory, could not be considered a viable negotiating partner.
In what rapidly became a self-fulfilling prophecy, Hamas curtailed all domestic dissent as economic conditions deteriorated rapidly. Its militants showered invectives on Israel and on the Mahmoud Abbas government in equal measure, while building up their military capacities with the aid of their Syrian and Iranian patrons. When rocket attacks on Israel intensified, then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert launched Operation 'Cast Lead' in late 2008. This offensive temporarily reduced Hamas military capacities, but — by not offering any alternative — did nothing to undercut its popular support. The tightening of the siege merely triggered local ingenuity (most notably tunnel construction), along with growing international distress over an ever-growing humanitarian crisis.
Two further rounds, in 2012 ('Pillar of Cloud') and 2014 ('Preventive Edge'), yielded little but successively shorter periods of calm between increasingly destructive and indeterminate armed confrontations. Sections of Gaza are still totally pulverized, the security of Israeli civilians on the Gaza border has not improved, and both populations remain traumatized. Something in Israel’s handling of Gaza affairs is unquestionably amiss.
A thorough reassessment of the working premises that have guided all Israeli government approaches to Gaza during the past decade is long overdue. In the first instance, the assumption that isolating the Gaza strip would lead to a popular uprising against its Hamas rulers has been disproven time and again. In fact, the solidarity wrought by Israel-induced victimhood has enhanced identification with the extremist organization against a common Israeli foe. Second, the related notion that the employment of superior force would create a breach with Hamas militants has backfired. The ongoing suffering of large segments of the population has forged a common denominator that, far from mitigating the use of force, has reinforced the link between extreme vulnerability and the widespread resort to violence.
Third, the idea that Hamas could be marginalized without strengthening the secular elements of the Palestinian national movement (especially Fateh) has indirectly fortified Hamas rule in Gaza (and possibly in the West Bank as well), thus exacerbating the discord between the various factions. Indeed, as time has progressed, it has become apparent that Israel’s one-dimensional depiction of Hamas prevented it from anticipating the even more extremist threats posed by Jihadists, Salafists and, most recently, the local representatives of IS.
Finally, as a result, Israeli options have narrowed. Bravado aside, it makes absolutely no sense to recapture the Gaza strip: the human, moral and international — let alone defensive — costs of subduing Hamas militarily are incalculable. A further Israeli-Egyptian stranglehold of Gaza has merely aggravated what is undeniably a monumental human tragedy. Clearly the time has come to explore other, less forcible and perhaps far more constructive, options.
There is already quite a bit of movement in this direction. Much has already been written about a German-mediated initiative, backed by Qatar and Turkey, regarding a potential long-term ceasefire. Reports of discussions in Jerusalem and Cairo in recent months persist. Senior officers in the IDF have publically expressed support for a more pragmatic approach to Gaza (General Sammy Turjeman, the Chief of the Southern Command, along with the Head of Military Intelligence, General Herzi Halevy). Minister of Education Naftali Bennett, in a sharp deviation from past statements, has come out in favor of active Israeli support for the reconstruction of Gaza. And, even though the Prime Minister, with the urging of the General Security Services, has resisted such a move, there are indications that the door for reconsideration has been opened.
A new Israeli policy towards Gaza, in stark contrast to past approaches, should be predicated on civilian rehabilitation. Its centerpiece must be the removal of the siege on Gaza, in all probability best effected through the creation of an internationally — supervised floating seaport which will enable the direct movement of people and goods into and out of the Strip (some reports discuss a first-ever NATO oversight of such a construction).
Other possible steps involve the reconstruction of neighborhoods destroyed during the latest Israeli operations (and especially during 'Preventive Edge') through direct Israeli inputs and the encouragement of external investments. The implementation of new housing plans promises to provide some work for income-impoverished residents of Gaza. Another approach to dealing with overwhelming unemployment (and the desperation that goes with it) is to explore the possibility of the renewal of job opportunities within Israel (in itself a barrier to violent resistance).
A shift to such an approach nurtures development prospects and expanding horizons that are neither dependent on Hamas handouts on the one hand nor on the promotion of violence on the other hand. It offers an alternative to the ongoing cycle of armed outbursts and offers substantial incentives to the maintenance of a modicum of law and order. Although it may not eradicate Hamas rule, it has the added advantage of marginalizing its power and perhaps laying the groundwork for the political rehabilitation of the Palestinian institutional infrastructure so critical to the solidification of governance today and state capacities in the future. Above all else, a revised strategy may do far more for Israeli (and Palestinian) security than the obstinate insistence on the ongoing use of force that to date has only yielded more and more immiseration.
Now is precisely the time to break with the spiral of violence, destruction and radicalization that has marked Israel-Gaza relations. By changing the parameters of Israel’s Gaza strategy and introducing new variables, it might be possible to embark on a new direction which, by lifting Palestinian residents of Gaza out of their hopeless stranglehold, might yet provide the way to extricate all involved from the clutches of what has become a deepening Gaza quagmire."
WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?: Writing on the website of settler-run news service Arutz 7, Noah Beck questions whose side U.S. President Barack Obama is really on.
"Much has been written about just how bad the proposed Iranian nuclear deal has gotten. This outcome is hardly surprising after Israel’s former ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, bravely published Ally, his memoir detailing Obama’s hostility towards Israel. But even without Ambassador Michael Oren’s personal testimony, there is overwhelming evidence that – on the issue most important to global security and Israel’s very existence – Obama has been, at best, reckless and, at worst, treasonous.
Obama’s administration has shown a breathtaking readiness to cover for a wide range of abuses and violations by the same Iranian regime that seeks international acceptance of its nuclear activities. U.S. Senator Ted Cruz recently noted that the State Department was illegally delaying the publication of a report on Iranian human rights violations, which was due last February, to avoid adversely affecting the talks with Iran on its nuclear program.
According to a report by the Institute for Science and International Security, a non-proliferation think tank, Iran has violated the current interim nuclear deal, the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA). The president of the institute, David Albright, noted that 'When it became clear Iran could not meet its commitment to convert the LEU into uranium dioxide, the United States revised its criteria for Iran meeting its obligations.' Such leniency on a crucial compliance issue suggests that the world powers negotiating with Iran (the 'P5+1') will ignore or explain away Iranian violations of any future agreement over its nuclear program.
In another breach of the JPOA, Iran continues trying to acquire nuclear-related materials – some of which would be prohibited under the emerging deal. Reuters reported last May that the Czech government had uncovered an Iranian attempt to purchase a shipment of compressors from a U.S.-owned company based in Prague. These parts can be used to extract enriched uranium directly from the centrifuge cascades. In April, the British Government reportedly informed a UN panel about an illicit Iranian nuclear procurement network involving two firms under sanctions for suspected links to Iran’s nuclear activities. Iran fed uranium hexafluoride gas into an advanced centrifuge, yet another violation of the JPOA. In April 2014, Reuters reported that Iran’s oil exports were well above the monthly 1 million barrel-per-day limit imposed by the JPOA. If the P5+1 countenanced all of these Iranian violations of the JPOA, why would they be any more forceful when an even stronger Iran violates a permanent nuclear accord?
The news outlet Al-Monitor reported that the U.S. State Department is three years late in applying certain sanctions on Iran. The report provides more proof that the State Department is intentionally delaying sanctions on Iran in its quest to close a nuclear deal. The Wall Street Journal reported that the administration has pressured the CIA so that its analysts are now in an 'impossible position regarding analysis of Iran’s nuclear program.'
Not only has the Obama administration ignored Iranian violations, it has also disregarded evidence that sanctions relief will only support Iran’s most dangerous policies. Under Iran’s 'moderate' President Rowhani, spending on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the entity tasked with spreading Iranian influence abroad while suppressing dissent at home, has increased by 48%. Iran spends approximately $200 million per year on Hezbollah and up to $15 billion per year to support the Assad regime in Syria. Apparently the Obama administration sees no contradiction in calling for Assad’s ouster while helping Iran to fund him by removing sanctions. Former Senior Advisor on Iran at the State Department, Ray Takiyeh, has warned that the 'massive financial gains from [a sanctions-lifting nuclear] deal would enable [Iran’s] imperial surge.' Iran is now the main power broker in four Arab countries (Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, and Syria). So how much more powerful and aggressive will Iran become when sanctions are lifted and billions of dollars flow into its economy?
Obama has also disregarded his own former Iran and nonproliferation experts, who last month signed on to a letter warning that the emerging Iran deal may 'fall short of the administration’s own standard.' Signatories include the White House’s former chief weapons of mass destruction advisor, Gary Samore, the Department of State’s former principal nonproliferation advisor, Robert Einhorn, the former director of the CIA, David Petraeus, the former special advisor on the Persian Gulf, Dennis Ross, and other notable officials and analysts. The letter asserts that the emerging deal will not dismantle Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and outlines the elements of a good deal. These include unlimited inspections, including military sites; strict limits on centrifuge R&D; disclosure of Iran’s past nuclear military work; phased sanctions-lifting that is tied to Iran’s compliance with the deal; and the creation of an effective mechanism to re-impose sanctions automatically in the event of an Iranian violation.
Iran’s breakout time under the emerging deal would be far less than the Obama administration’s estimate of one year, according to one proliferation expert and the former deputy director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
In pursuit of this bad deal, Obama has not only covered for Iranian violations and ignored Iran’s continued ballistic missile developments; he has actually offered the Iranian regime nuclear technology. On what basis does Obama so trust a regime that, for decades, has been one of the most dangerous on the planet, and an arch foe of the U.S. and its closest Mideast allies? In another shocking example of that misplaced trust, the U.S. is sharing a base in Iraq with Iranian-backed Shiite militias, who have killed American soldiers in the past, despite concerns that doing so puts American soldiers at risk by allowing the militias to spy on U.S. operations at the base.
The overwhelming evidence all points to the same troubling question: in the nuclear faceoff between Iran and the West, whose side is Obama on? He may get his 'legacy deal,' but it will include nuclear proliferation across the Middle East, an Iranian regime much more able to support terrorism and hegemonic policies, and the far greater prospect of nuclear terrorism and/or doomsday in the world’s most unstable region."
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