Bret Stephens: A Courageous Trump Call on a Lousy Iran Deal
Apologists also claim that, with Trump’s decision, Tehran will simply restart its enrichment activities on an industrial scale. Maybe it will, forcing a crisis that could end with U.S. or Israeli strikes on Iran’s nuclear sites. But that would be stupid, something the regime emphatically isn’t. More likely, it will take symbolic steps to restart enrichment, thereby implying a threat without making good on it. What the regime wants is a renegotiation, not a reckoning.
Why? Even with the sanctions relief, the Iranian economy hangs by a thread: The Wall Street Journal on Sunday reported “hundreds of recent outbreaks of labor unrest in Iran, an indication of deepening discord over the nation’s economic troubles.” This week, the rial hit a record low of 67,800 to the dollar; one member of the Iranian Parliament estimated $30 billion of capital outflows in recent months. That’s real money for a country whose gross domestic product barely matches that of Boston.
The regime might calculate that a strategy of confrontation with the West could whip up useful nationalist fervors. But it would have to tread carefully: Ordinary Iranians are already furious that their government has squandered the proceeds of the nuclear deal on propping up the Assad regime. The conditions that led to the so-called Green movement of 2009 are there once again. Nor will it help Iran if it tries to start a war with Israel and comes out badly bloodied.
All this means the administration is in a strong position to negotiate a viable deal. But it missed an opportunity last month when it failed to deliver a crippling blow to Bashar al-Assad, Iran’s puppet in Syria, for his use of chemical weapons. Trump’s appeals in his speech to the Iranian people also sounded hollow from a president who isn’t exactly a tribune of liberalism and has disdained human rights as a tool of U.S. diplomacy. And the U.S. will need to mend fences with its European partners to pursue a coordinated diplomatic approach.
The goal is to put Iran’s rulers to a fundamental choice. They can opt to have a functioning economy, free of sanctions and open to investment, at the price of permanently, verifiably and irreversibly forgoing a nuclear option and abandoning their support for terrorists. Or they can pursue their nuclear ambitions at the cost of economic ruin and possible war. But they are no longer entitled to Barack Obama’s sweetheart deal of getting sanctions lifted first, retaining their nuclear options for later, and sponsoring terrorism throughout.
Trump’s courageous decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal will clarify the stakes for Tehran. Now we’ll see whether the administration is capable of following through.
John Podhoretz: Trump and America’s Centripetal Foreign Policy
With some exceptions (like the elder Bush’s administration in relation to Israel), every element on this list (if in some cases you substitute the Soviet Union for Russia pre-1991 and Libya for Islamist terror) was to some degree at play in American foreign policy from 1981 until 2008. Such has been the powerful logical flow of American foreign policy since the election of Ronald Reagan. This consensus ebbed and flowed depending on the circumstance, of course, and the parallels are not perfect. What Trump has done, and I don’t think strategically or with any grand design, is to place far greater stock in both the unilateralist and the realpolitik aspects of American foreign policy than his predecessors in the Reagan and post-Reagan era. He views enduring alliances more as constraints than grand benefits, which is perhaps the primary way in which he differs from the consensus. But his attacks on those alliances have basically ceased, which is itself a striking change from candidate Trump’s approach.
And what of 2008 to 2016? Barack Obama, schooled in 1970s liberal foreign-policy shibboleths, came at this consensus and flipped it—not entirely on its head, more like about 140 degrees. We went at Israel, we went light on Russia, we sought a concord with Iran, and Obama was celebrated for his acceptance of the monsters of Havana. Most notably, he accepted the left-liberal critique of postwar American foreign policy’s supposedly bad actions in the world and sought to apologize or make implicit amends for them. Viewed in this light, it’s the Obama years that represent the jarring discontinuity from the consensus path and not the election of the X-factor Trump.
We’ll have to see how this North Korea business goes to better understand Trump. (And certainly Trump’s trade practices mark him as very different, though there’s an argument that’s more an economic than a foreign policy.) There’s no reason to believe any of this is conscious or deliberate or designed. There is no Trump Doctrine. But there might be one yet, and it might be more familiar than we had any right to expect.
Sohrab Amari: Obama Killed His Own Iran Deal
He tried to circumvent the Israelis by keeping them in the dark about secret negotiations with the Islamic Republic. For Obama, Arab fears of Iranian expansionism were a tertiary concern, and he was surprised when the most important Sunni powers didn’t show up for a 2015 summit that was supposed to sell them on the deal. He likewise pooh-poohed Iran’s eliminationist anti-Israel rhetoric (“at the margins, where the costs are low, they may pursue policies based on [Jew] hatred as opposed to self-interest,” he told The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg). His aides described a sitting Israeli prime minister as a “chickens—t” (on background, naturally).
He lectured and condescended, and then lectured some more.
On the home front, meanwhile, Obama relied on his signature “pen and phone” methods to ram the deal through. Rather than welcome GOP hawks as good-faith actors seeking to strengthen his hand against an adversary, he treated Republicans as the adversary. He thought his diplomacy pitted him and reasonable Iranians like Javad Zarif against “hard-liners” in Washington and Tehran.
Meanwhile, Obama’s Ben Rhodes-operated media echo chamber swarmed and shouted down journalists and experts who raised concerns about the terms of the accord, not least the fact that it permitted the Iranians to inspect their own military sites and left unaddressed the question of ballistic missiles. The Obama administration never satisfactorily answered critics’ questions about Iran’s refusal to come clean about its prior weaponization activity—the glaring flaw in the deal’s architecture that contributed the most to its undoing this week.
And here we are. The deal’s demise, then, was written into it by its primary author.
Charles C. W. Cooke: It’s the Senate, Stupid
President Trump has signaled his intention to leave the Iran deal. I shall leave analysis of the merits and demerits of this decision to others. This is not my area, and I shall affect no expertise. But I do want to quickly note one thing — namely, that those who are worried about the effect this will have on America’s “standing” in the world should be extremely angry with President Obama today. Ben Rhodes, who admitted to lying to credulous journalists in his attempt to get the deal through, is scared that the reversal will be “devastating to U.S. credibility globally.” “Why,” he asks, “would anyone trust an international agreement that the U.S. negotiates?”
The answer to this, traditionally, is “because the deal was ratified by the Senate.”
This deal, however, was not ratified by the Senate. Instead, Rhodes’s boss deliberately bypassed our constitutional structure and struck the agreement unilaterally, the operating theory being that if the president called it something other than a “treaty” then it would become something other than a treaty. Which, of course, it . . . did. In my view, circumventing the Senate in this way was a gross violation of the American system of government and a disgraceful exercise in linguistic gamesmanship. But one doesn’t have to agree with that to accept that, because Obama took this approach, he ended up with a non-treaty. And non-treaties lack the imprimatur and broad-based acceptance that treaties, by design, tend to enjoy. If the president wanted his arrangement to be more permanent, he should have gone to the Senate. And if he didn’t go precisely because he knew the Senate would say no, then he knew all along he was building on sand. Whose fault is that, pray? His successor’s?
Douglas Murray: Hectoring Trump on Iran has done Britain and France no favours
Well now the boot is on another foot. President Trump has pulled out of the JCPOA, and yet British officialdom – which was so conspicuously silent when President Obama got what he wanted – has been imploring Trump to act differently. From the Foreign Secretary down, the UK has been imploring the White House not to act on something it wanted to act on and, after all, promised the American public that it would act on.
In recent days Boris Johnson has been reduced to pleading about babies and bathwater. But now that the President has made his decision, it is he and his counterparts who are going to have to work out what they want to save and what they want to do.
As the US re-imposes sanctions on the Revolutionary Islamic Republic of Iran, the other signatories to the JCPOA (including Britain) will have to work out some coherent, probably unified, stance. It is possible that they will try to stick together and defy the American decision. If they do then it is perfectly possible that they will be reminded that they can either trade with Iran or with America, but not with both. In such circumstances it seems unlikely that they will choose to keep trading with Iran.
Of course anything could happen, but most likely is that the UK, French and other governments are going to spend the coming grace trying to find a dignified way down from the hectoring position they have got themselves into.
David Horovitz: Trump’s Iran deal withdrawal: It should never have come to this
Imagine that your entire life’s work is dedicated to one acutely sensitive area of expertise, that you are constantly hampered by restricted access to your core research material, but that you are nonetheless the world authority in your field. Then imagine that someone else manages, through extraordinary enterprise and courage, to gain access to more core material, much more, than you could ever have imagined existed. And offers to make it available to you.
Would you a) express your profound gratitude and rush to pore over the new discoveries or b) dismiss the material, sight unseen, as irrelevant? No prizes for guessing which course of action the IAEA adopted hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled and began to detail Iran’s own nuclear weapons documentation, spirited out of Tehran from under the noses of the Islamic “We have never sought nuclear weapons” Republic.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presents Iran’s own documentation of its nuclear weapons program, at a press conference in Tel Aviv, on April 30, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Trump’s decision to nix rather than fix the 2015 agreement creates a highly complex new reality. Hitherto, the P5+1 countries, however strained the ties between them, were at least ostensibly lined up together, behind their infirm accord, against the ayatollahs.
Now, we have the US on one side, Iran on the other, and Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia all pulling in slightly different directions in between. Iran can be relied upon to exploit the disunity.
But don’t blame Donald Trump for that. Blame the original sin — a deal that was supposed to dismantle Iran’s rogue nuclear weapons program, but, simply, didn’t.
The worldview Trump opposes privileges therapy and dialogue over realism and hard decisions. It imagines that the Iranian theocracy is a reliable or trustworthy hedge against Sunni power and will liberalize gradually as the arc of justice progresses. These are the ideas that motivated the presidency of Barack Obama. The Iran deal was the signature achievement of Obama’s second term, and it is now gone. In truth, though, Obama’s legacy was disappearing long before Trump made his announcement. Obama’s legacy, like much of his self-presentation, was a mirage, a pleasing and attractive image that, upon closer inspection, loses coherence.
Because he governed so extensively through executive order and administrative fiat, because he was so contemptuous of criticism and had a “my way or the highway” approach to negotiations with Republicans (though not with Iranians), the longevity of Obama’s agenda depended heavily on his party winning a third consecutive term in the White House. As Tom Cotton warned the Iranians years ago, an agreement entered into by a president and not submitted to the Senate as a treaty can be abrogated by the next man who holds the office. Hillary Clinton’s failure doomed the Iran deal and the reputations it had established. It was Barack Obama and John Kerry who allowed Donald Trump to exit the deal by rejecting longstanding procedure. Perhaps it was knowledge of this fact that inspired Kerry in his desperate attempt to preserve the agreement.
Trump has spent much of his time in office reversing Obama policies that were made outside of, or in opposition to, America’s constitutional framework. He has had the hardest time repealing Obamacare, for the very reason that the Affordable Care Act was passed by the Congress and upheld by the Supreme Court. That is a lesson for any president: To have a long-lasting influence on American life, work within the system bequeathed to us by the Founders.
Because Republicans widely shared a negative attitude toward the Iran deal, many people assume that President Trump is doing what any other GOP president would do. But I am not sure. Another Republican president who had come up through the political system, or been enmeshed in the foreign policy establishment, or held elite opinion in esteem may well have given in to pressure to remain in the Paris accord, keep the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, and stay, at least partly, in the JCPOA. Trump’s outsider status and independence give him the freedom not only to flout political correctness but to repudiate the international and domestic consensus in ways his supporters love.
It took a small boy to say the emperor had no clothes. And it took Donald Trump to say that Barack Obama’s foreign policy legacy was a superficial and dangerous mirage.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday that Iran is seeking to commit another Holocaust by exterminating six million more Jews amid spiraling tensions between Jerusalem and Tehran.
Ahead of talks Wednesday in Moscow, Netanyahu urged that the Middle Eastern regional crisis be resolved in “a responsible manner.”
Netanyahu had earlier attended Russia’s annual Victory Day Parade, which this year marked 73 years since the Red Army defeat of Nazi Germany. The prime minister was one of two foreign leaders who attended the event, during which the Russian army also showcased military equipment used to defend the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. The other foreign leader present was Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić.
“We in Israel don’t forget for a moment the tremendous sacrifice by the Russian people and the sacrifice of the Red Army in defeating the Nazi monster,” Netanyahu said.
“We don’t forget the great lesson of the need to face murderous ideology in time. It is hard to believe, but 73 years after the Holocaust there is a country in the Middle East, Iran, that is calling for the destruction of six million Jews.
The meeting with Putin came amid spiraling tensions between Israel and Iran, and the day after US President Donald Trump announced that he was pulling the US out of a landmark nuclear deal with Iran.
Fix it or nix it, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded. On Tuesday, Donald Trump nixed it.
The US president’s announcement that the US is withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, vowing to institute “the highest level of economic sanctions” on the Islamic Republic, can be seen as one of Netanyahu’s greatest foreign policy achievements, on a par with or even greater than Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
In his first reaction to Trump’s speech, Netanyahu hailed the president’s “bold” decision but refrained from taking any credit for it. Others did so for him.
“All those who at the time attacked the prime minister for his determination to fight against the agreement, and argued there was no chance the agreement would be rescinded, have to eat their hats today and apologize to Netanyahu,” senior Likud Minister Ze’ev Elkin said.
Many criticized the prime minister for going to Congress in 2015 to speak out against the then looming Iran deal. They argued that the speech would inevitably fail to scuttle the agreement and needlessly anger then-president Barack Obama. Indeed, Netanyahu’s critics later noted, Obama took revenge on Israel by not vetoing an anti-settlements resolution at the United Nations Security Council in December 2016.
So Netanyahu’s camp can feel vindicated by Trump’s announcement to gut one of Obama’s key foreign policy achievements, with the Tuesday speech reading as if it had been written in Jerusalem. It listed nearly all the points the prime minister would have made if he had given the address himself: the fatal flaws of the nuclear agreement, Iran’s support for terrorism, its development of ballistic missiles, and more.
President Donald Trump finally made good on his promise Tuesday to get out of the Iran nuclear deal. As I have written, I would have kept the agreement in limbo and let the regime’s clerics twist in the wind. But what’s done is done.
Global Leaders React Ahead of Trump Iran Announcement
Much will be written about what the U.S. and its allies should do on the nuclear file. Iran’s leaders have made vague threats, and the West must prepare for the prospect of losing visibility into the country’s declared nuclear infrastructure. That said, the most urgent task now for Trump is increasing the odds of success for Iran’s democracy movement.
To understand why, consider the argument first put forward in 2005 by former CIA analyst and Iran specialist Kenneth Pollack. In his book, “Persian Puzzle,” Pollack said there were two clocks for Iran: a countdown to nuclear weapons, and a countdown to democracy. He argued that the best guide for U.S. policy was to try to slow down the former to give more time for the latter.
The heart of the Iran nuclear deal — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA — addressed the first part of Pollack’s formula. It placed temporary limits, between 10 and 15 years, on the amount of uranium Iran could enrich suitable for nuclear power and the scale of the centrifuge cascades it could install at its declared nuclear facilities. Ideally that would buy time for Pollack’s second clock.
Former President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have issued rare statements condemning their successors for withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement.
The 2015 deal, which was spearheaded by the Obama administration over two years of negotiations, was long a target of the new US president, Donald Trump. But he decided to withdraw completely on Tuesday, reimposing all nuclear sanctions on Iran lifted under terms of the deal, effective immediately.
“Today’s announcement weakens our security, breaks America’s word, isolates us from our European allies, puts Israel at greater risk, empowers Iran’s hardliners, and reduces our global leverage to address Tehran’s misbehavior, while damaging the ability of future administrations to make international agreements,” Kerry said.
“No rhetoric is required. The facts speak for themselves. Instead of building on unprecedented nonproliferation verification measures, this decision risks throwing them away and dragging the world back to the brink we faced a few years ago.”
Former Secretary of State John Kerry appeared on MSNBC Tuesday and defended meeting with Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at the United Nations to help try to save the Iran deal.
When Kerry met with Zarif in April to strategize on saving the pact, it was the second time in about two months the two had done so.
MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace asked if this was hypocritical given that Kerry criticized members of President Donald Trump’s transition team of doing the same thing when they got involved in policy making.
“You’re being accused of hypocrisy there and I’d like to give you a chance to respond to that,” Wallace told Kerry.
“There’s none whatsoever. None whatsoever,” Kerry responded.
“Until today, until this afternoon, the policy of the United States of America was to be in the Iran agreement,” Kerry said.
He proceeded to describe his conversations with world leaders as normal.
Iran threatened to nix its nuclear deal unless the three European signatories to the nuclear deal — France, Germany and the United Kingdom — offer Tehran strong incentives.
“We do not trust the three European countries, like we don’t trust the US; without receiving a strong guarantee from these three European countries, we won’t stick to the nuclear agreement [the JCPOA],” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday in Tehran.
An English version of the speech he gave in the aftermath of the US decision to nix the deal and reimpose sanctions on Iran was posted on his web site.
The E3 countries have been hopefully they can sway Iran to remain in the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action under which Tehran agreed to curb is nuclear program in exchange for an agreement from the six world powers that they would lift their economic sanctions.
Russia and China are also signatories to the deal and, like the E3, have no interest in ending it.
French President Emmanuel Macron urged his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani in a telephone call on Wednesday to respect the deal.
Iranian MPs Burn U.S. Flag in Parliament, Chant “Death to America,” following Trump’s Withdrawal from Nuclear Deal pic.twitter.com/3zCiFSLblz
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) May 9, 2018
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, after years of warning that it gave their archrival cover to expand its regional influence.
The quick embrace of Trump’s announcement on Tuesday reflects a sense of vindication by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have pushed Washington to take seriously both Iran’s ballistic missile program and its support for militant groups – security threats they regard as existential.
Saudis rejoiced at Trump’s announcement via social media, tweeting photos of him and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with comments including “We prevailed,” “Game over,” and “Action, not words.”
“No deal could ever be struck with the devil, and Saudi Arabia fully supports President Trump’s decision. … Together we prevail,” one tweet read.
Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia has been at loggerheads with Shiite Iran for decades, fighting a long-running proxy war in the Middle East and beyond, including armed conflicts and political crises in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
A George Soros-financed organization that was previously identified by the Obama White House as central in helping to market the Iran nuclear deal to the news media has warned Donald Trump that he will “own the consequences” of bolting the international nuclear accord.
The Ploughshares Fund, with which former secretary of state John Kerry has been closely associated, sent out the following tweet on Monday warning Trump about “consequences” “if and when he violates the international agreement.”
The Fund, however, did not mention that Iran is already accused of violating the agreement by signing the deal under false pretenses. During an address last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled a cache of secret files he says were obtained from inside a hidden Iranian site and clearly demonstrate that Tehran maintained a secret nuclear weapons program despite declarations to the contrary.
Netanyahu explained that the structure of the U.S.-led international nuclear agreement was in part based on deceptive Iranian descriptions of its previous nuclear work. He said Iran’s failure to disclose its secret program while misleading the world shows the nuclear deal is “based on lies based on Iranian deception.”
The Israeli leader presented evidence that Iran continued research for a nuclear weapons program even after signing the 2015 nuclear deal.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump announced that he was ending the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by his predecessor Barack Obama which gave the leading state sponsor of terrorism billions of dollars without effectively curbing their efforts to build a nuclear arsenal.
Many conservatives hailed the move, including Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro.
Many in the mainstream media had a far different response on Twitter, echoing Obama administration talking points about the deal and portraying Trump’s decision in hyperbolic terms.
How regrettable that such a wise, respected scholar as @GrahamTAllison endorses revisionist history in blaming #Israel for #IraqWar, when 77 senators – including those named #Biden, #Clinton, #Kerry & #Reid – voted to authorize force against #Iraq. https://t.co/LpG78aA3XX
— Robert Satloff (@robsatloff) May 8, 2018
If true, the reported concessions that Israel is being asked to make as part of the US administration’s “deal of the century” will not be perceived by the Palestinians as a sign that Israel seeks peace. As the past has proven, they will be viewed by the Palestinians as a form of retreat and capitulation.
As far as the PA is concerned, the more territory it is handed by Israel the better. Territory in Jerusalem is especially welcome as it would give the Palestinian Authority a foothold in the city. A foothold, that is, for much, much more.
Make no mistake: the Palestinians will see their presence in the four neighborhoods as the first step towards the redivision of Jerusalem.
The Palestinians will say that these Israeli concessions are not enough. They will demand that Israel hand them control over all 28 Arab neighborhoods.
Worse, the Palestinians are likely to use the four neighborhoods as launching pads to carry out terror attacks against Israel to “liberate the rest of Jerusalem.”
Why would anyone think that these neighborhoods will not fall into the hands of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the future?
Any Israeli concessions, particularly at this stage, will be interpreted by the Palestinians as a reward to Mahmoud Abbas and his crowd, who are not being required to give Israel anything in return.
A Western country is reportedly brokering talks between Israel and the Hamas terror organization on a deal for a long-term ceasefire in exchange for lifting the blockade over the Gaza Strip.
The indirect talks, initiated by Hamas, are a cause for concern for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who fears they could develop into political ties that would undermine demands the PA has made of Hamas, according to the report by the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat.
Israel has promised the Western country to study the offer and respond to it, but only after May 15, when Palestinians plan to hold mass demonstrations marking 70 years since the “Nakba,” or catastrophe, of Israel’s founding, the report said, citing “diplomatic sources.”
Israel said it was willing to discuss a truce, security-related issues and humanitarian issues, but “refuses to respond under the threat of marches.”
The report added that Israel was likely to demand that Hamas halt its weapons development and its attack tunnels project, in addition to dismantling the weapons of its military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
The bodies of nine IDF soldiers have been held in the Gaza Strip since the War of Independence, a senior IDF official told Radio 101.5 on Wednesday.
Lt. Col. Neri Arieli, a researcher in the Missing Persons Division of the IDF, said Hamas is aware of the locations of some of the bodies, but refrained from suggesting they were being held as bargaining chips in potential negotiations with Israel.
On Sunday, the division announced it had located the remains of Pvt. Liebke Schaeffer after an intensive search.
“Let’s divide it into two,” Arieli said. “One – there are bodies where the authorities in Gaza know where they are buried, and there are bodies that [laypeople] in Gaza know where they are.”
Arieli refused to answer whether the army has made an appeal to Hamas to return the bodies, saying only, “We currently have nine soldiers in Gaza.”
He said that during IDF operations in Gaza, recovering the bodies “was not a top priority, and it was difficult for us to investigate.”
The mastermind of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks asked permission this week from a military judge to share information about CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel with the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Al Qaeda leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was captured in 2003 and waterboarded more than 180 times by the CIA. Haspel ran a black site in Thailand where enhanced interrogation methods were employed, and opponents are seeking to torpedo her nomination due to her connections to the controversial Bush-era program.
The New York Times reports Mohammed asked a judge at Guantanamo Bay, where he is imprisoned, to share six paragraphs of testimony about Haspel with the Senate Intelligence Committee:
The army’s top brass met with local leaders of communities on the Golan Heights on Wednesday as Israeli troops in the region were on high alert amid concerns that Iran may look to carry out a retaliatory strike against the Jewish state.
“As part of the meeting, the commanders updated the local council leaders about the findings of a situational assessment and they discussed the preparedness of the communities and the civilian home front,” the Israel Defense Forces said.
Earlier, IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot spoke with head of the Northern Command Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick, Home Front Command chief Maj. Gen. Tamir Yadai, and the head of the Bashan Division, which defends the Golan Heights, Brig. Gen. Amit Fisher.
On Tuesday night, the IDF released a highly unusual warning to residents of the Golan Heights, calling for local governments to open public bomb shelters, after “abnormal movements of Iranian forces in Syria” were identified by Military Intelligence.
“The IDF is ready and prepared for a variety of scenarios and warns that any action against Israel will be answered with a fierce retaliation,” the army said.
The army also announced it had deployed missile defense batteries in northern Israel and said “there is high preparedness of IDF troops for an attack.”
Eight Iranians were among 15 foreign pro-regime fighters killed in a suspected Israeli strike in Syria on a weapons depot of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, a monitor said Wednesday.
The raid struck the area of Kisweh south of Damascus late Tuesday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
Syria’s official news agency SANA said the army had intercepted two Israeli missiles fired toward Kisweh, with state television broadcasting images of fires in the nearby area.
“The death toll of the missile strike has risen to 15 pro-regime fighters — eight from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and others not of Syrian nationality,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.
The monitor previously reported nine pro-regime combatants had died in the raid, without specifying their nationality.
It would be premature to celebrate what appears to have been Israel’s success in thwarting Iran’s threatened “revenge attack” on northern Israel from Syria. The Iranian missile strike intended for Tuesday night may have been prevented by means of the raid on the Kisweh base, but presumably the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is not done yet.
According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 15 people were killed in the nighttime strike at Kisweh, of whom eight were Iranians. Which means the Iranian motivation for revenge has not dimmed; quite the reverse.
The head of the IRGC’s Al Quds Brigades, Qassam Soleimani, will try again via his various proxies in Syria to settle accounts with Israel, whether via missiles or an attack on IDF troops in the Golan like the one in January 2015.
Furthermore, keep in mind that Iran’s central goal in Syria is not a revenge attack on Israel, but rather the establishment of a permanent military presence. Iran has no intention of halting that effort, no matter how many attacks Israel allegedly carries out. The Persian empire is taking shape before our very eyes between Tehran and the Mediterranean. Any effort to strike at Israel is a marginal consideration when looked at in the context of that years-long process.
Here’s how the Iranians may view the ongoing activities attributed to Israel in Syria: Israel will not agree to the transfer of “game-changing” weaponry to Syria for the use of Hezbollah or the IRGC — neither long-range Fateh-110 missiles nor attack drones entering Israel and impinging on its absolute air supremacy. Also on Israel’s red line list: an Iranian or Shiite/Hezbollah militia presence close to the Golan Heights border, and an Iranian air force presence.
Palestinian rioters threw a pipe bomb at the entrance gate of a Border Police base in the West Bak town of Abu Dis just outside Jerusalem, authorities said Wednesday.
Damage was caused to the gate, but no injuries were reported from the explosive. A statement from Border Police said officers were using “nonlethal measures” to disperse the dozens of demonstrators.
During the riot, authorities said one officer was moderately injured after being hit with a stone.
Troops arrested two Palestinians believed to have been responsible for hurling the rocks that injured the officer.
Pipe bombs have been frequently used by Palestinian assailants in recent months, typically to target military courts in the West Bank.
Last week, security forces arrested two Palestinians after they were caught with three pipe bombs at the entrance to the Samaria Military Court in the northern West Bank. The youths were also said to be in possession of a gas canister.
Wednesday’s incident came hours after Israeli security forces arrested two Palestinians outside the village of Beitunia southwest of Ramallah, for hurling stones at troops.
Senior PLO official Ahmad Majdalani said Tuesday that May 14, the day the US is expected to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, will be “a day of rage.”
Many Palestinians and Palestinian officials have expressed anger and frustration with the American administration since US President Donald Trump initiated the relocation of the US Embassy in Israel in December.
The Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership has long hoped east Jerusalem will become the capital of a future Palestinian state and demanded that the city’s final status be determined in negotiations with Israel. Israel considers both the eastern and western halves of Jerusalem to be its capital.
“The fourteenth of this month will be a huge, popular day of rage everywhere,” Majdalani said, according to the Voice of Palestine, the official Palestinian Authority radio station. “Our people will express their rejection of relocating the embassy to occupied Jerusalem.”
A large delegation of US officials including Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, are slated to arrive in Jerusalem next week for a ceremony to mark the opening of the new embassy.
During past “days of rage,” groups of Palestinians have marched toward Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank and clashed with Israeli forces there. PA security forces on such days have sometimes barred Palestinians from reaching Israeli forces, preventing clashes from taking place.
A telegram channel named for Hamas’ Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades heralded Osama bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaeda, on the seventh anniversary of the terror leader’s death. Hamas, an antisemitic U.S.-designated terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip, is sometimes inaccurately portrayed in the press as merely a Palestinian nationalistic “resistance movement” to Israel; often minimizing or obfuscating on the group’s Islamist agenda.
A May 8, 2018 report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), a non-profit organization that translates Arab, Russian, and Iranian media, noted that the telegram channel “published several messages about the late Al-Qaeda leader” on May 2, 2018. That channel has approximately 3,000 members. Additional eulogies were also posted on a separate Hamas forum.
Messages on the channel called Bin Laden a “lion,” an “educator” and an “innovative imam,” among other accolades. One message stated: “”On that day [May 2, 2011], we lost one of the knights of our nation, which only Hamas lamented at the time.” Attached to that message were several death notices that the group published following Bin Laden’s May 2, 2011 death.
Images of Bin Laden, along with several poems, were also posted on the channel and in Hamas’s forum.
Militant Song on West Bank Pro-Fatah TV Channel: “We Shall Not Lay Down Our Weapons, And We Shall Never Surrender” pic.twitter.com/tt9LxtSANI
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) May 9, 2018
US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that three Americans detained by North Korea have been released and are on their way home with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“I am pleased to inform you that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the air and on his way back from North Korea with the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting. They seem to be in good health,” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.
Trump said he will greet Pompeo and the Americans when they land at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington at 2 a.m. EDT Thursday morning. “Very exciting!” he wrote on Twitter.
The fate of Korean-Americans Kim Hak-song, Tony Kim and Kim Dong-chul had been among a number of delicate issues in the run-up to the first-ever meeting of US and North Korean leaders.
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