Tag Archives: iranian nuclear program

Getting Israel’s threat perception regarding Iran right

13 May

As part of his 8th of May recent article for the National Interest, Trita Parsi , the head of the National Iranian – American Council describes what he believes Israel sees as “the real threat from Iran”: i.e a possible rapprochement between Tehran and Washington. Describing what this would entail, Parsi quotes Bar Ilan Professor Gerald Steinberg who states “The Great Satan will make up with Iran and forget about Israel,”.

Yes, there are some Israelis who are worried about the U.S reducing some of its support for Israel in order to “reach a deal with Iran over issues in the Middle East and the Caspian sea” as Parsi describes. But to say “Therein, of course, lay “the” real threat from Iran (with an emphasis on the) is an inaccurate assessment of facts on the ground in Israel.

The reason being that other important events have taken place in Israel which have had a far more profound impact on Israel’s threat perception regarding Iran. Events which Mr Parsi’s analysis does not take into consideration.

As Parsi correctly points out in the article, the Israeli government reached out to Iran in the late 90s and early 2000s, but it was turned down. Israel in fact did more than what he describes, as I described in my piece for Al Monitor entitled “Was Ariel Sharon Israel’s Secret Channel to Iran?”.

However the article in the National Interest stops there. It does not mention what happened after Iran’s rejection of Israel’s overtures.

Iran soon started supporting one of the biggest campaigns to kill Israeli civilians, carried out by Hamas in the second intifada. During that campaign 649 Israeli civilians were deliberately targeted in civilian buses and Cafes. The victims included pregnant mothers, and many children. Iran, as well as Saudi Arabia were the two biggest financial sponsors of Hamas. So much so that in his 2003 faxed “grand bargain” to the US, the Iranian supreme leader tried to use Iran’s influence over Hamas as leverage.

Meanwhile the Iranian regime was continuing to work on a nuclear weapon until 2003, as confirmed by the NIE in 2007.

To many Israelis, the Iranian regime not only called for the death of Israelis through “death to Israel” chants, it also paid Hamas to do it. Meanwhile as the killings were going on, it was working on a nuclear weapon. Iran had even tried to buy a nuclear weapon from Pakistan. Not to mention the Iranian regime (not the current government)’s denial of the holocaust which Ahmadinejad started and Khamenei is now continuing as well as calls for Israel to be wiped off.

To any politician, and not just Israeli politicians, such actions and threats from another country are far more real and important than what Parsi purports to be “the real threat” which Iran poses to Israel.

The argument could also be made as to whether there is any real chance that the U.S would reduce some of its support for Israel specifically for the purpose of reaching a deal with Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea. Would that be domestically feasible or realistic in the U.S? According to Gallup’s latest poll, 72 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Israel, while only 9% have a favorable view of Iran. This is in addition to the strong support for Israel in Capitol Hill whereas Iran has almost no support. These would make such a decision very costly for any U.S politician.

In #Iran Wednesday is National Nuclear Technology day

6 Apr

After entering office in August 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared the 20th day in the month of Farvardin (9th of April) as “National Nuclear Technology day”.

During his 8 years in office, he used this day to declare and celebrate new advancement in Iran’s nuclear program.

For example during the 2008 National Nuclear Technology day celebrations, Ahmadinejad declared that “Iran was ready to install some 6,000 new centrifuges at the nuclear facility in the central province of Natanz”.

This coming National Nuclear Technology day (this Wednesday) will be the first since he left office.

According to the Tehran based “Khabar on line”, this year there won’t be any government officials who will be attending this ceremony, which is scheduled to take place in the city of Esfahan.

The most important official who will attend will be Saeed Jalili, who is the supreme leader’s representative in the Supreme National Security Council. He is not an elected official, nor is he part of the government.

His attendance shows that although this day was celebrated after Ahmadinejad came to office, it is one which the Supreme Leader identifies with and wants to continue.

Therefore there is every chance that despite the report in Khabar online, members of the government end up attending the event.

The conservative press such as 598.ir which is already calling for Iran to walk out of the nuclear talks because of a recent dispute with the EU over the issue of human rights is likely to use this occasion to attack Rouhani.

Iran’s president has many enemies inside the Iranian regime, and they will use every opportunity to attack him. Even though his government has handled the nuclear program with far more expedience in less than one year, than Ahmadinejad’s government did in 8.

Robert Gates is also against new Iran sanctions

27 Jan

There are those in the US Congress who want to impose additional sanctions against Iran.

I am against such an idea. Iran has promised to implement the Geneva nuclear deal and we see that it has already started implementing its obligations. Punishing Iran for taking positive steps will push them away from moderation in the negotiations. Why would someone want to cooperate if they are punished for it?

Imposing new sanctions now will also say to the Iranians that the P5+1 is not an honest partner. After all, according to the new deal signed between the two, the P5+1 has promised not to impose new sanctions during the interim agreement. A deal is a deal. It’s equally bad when and if the US breaks it, as it is if Iran breaks it.

Don’t get me wrong, sanctions have been very successful in changing the Iranian regime’s nuclear stance. But now that they seem to be bearing fruit, we should give an opportunity for Iran and the P5+1 to show that they are both sincere and are willing to follow their promises with action. If Iran does not deliver then it would justify tougher sanctions.

Obama is also against new sanctions being passed at this moment. He wants to give diplomacy a chance. This morning his position was supported by two senators in a New York Times op-ed.

And now former US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has joined them. Gates is a very respected man in the US Defence establishment. He is the only secretary of defence to serve under two consecutive presidents who represented opposing parties as he served under both Bush and Obama.  His words are worth listening to.

#Iran in 2014

26 Dec

In 2014, to foresee Iran’s behavior at the nuclear negotiations, we must look at domestic politics.
My latest article explains:

Survey: Majority of Israelis distrust latest Iran deal

4 Dec

According to a recent survey by the Tel Aviv University-Israel Democracy Institute Peace Index, majority of Israelis distrust the latest Iran nuclear deal.

According to the survey’s findings:

Fully 77% of Israelis say the nuclear agreement between Western powers and Iran will not end the Islamic Republic’s drive for nuclear weapons. Just 18% said they thought it would.

Therefore it seems that Netanyahu has the backing of majority of Israeli when it comes to his skepticism of the interim deal between the P5+1 and Iran.

However where the public don’t seem to back him is when it comes to relations with the US government.

At the same time, Israelis overwhelmingly welcome the alliance with the US. 

The survey asked bluntly: “Since 1967 the United States has been considered Israel’s most loyal and important ally. Do you think it still is?”

Israelis overwhelmingly said yes, with 71% saying they are “sure” (29%) or “think” (42%) it is. Just 26% said America is no longer Israel’s best ally.

My two cents:

After eight years of Ahmadinejad, known for his holocaust denial and calls for Israel’s elimination, as well as the recent attacks by the supreme leader against Israel, majority of Israelis are still very suspicious of the Iranian regime.

Yes Rouhani has tried to improve Iran’s image, by it will take more than two tweets from him to reverse so many years of damage.

But, if the interim deal is successful and the two sides live up to their commitments (especially the Iranian government), then I believe that the level of trust in Israel regarding a final deal with Iran could increase.

Netanyahu is wrong on Iran deal

28 Nov

Why I believe the Geneva deal with Iran is a good for Israel, as an interim deal


AIPAC sets US Middle East policy?

17 Sep

Much has been said and written about the power and influence of AIPAC in the Congress .

There is no doubt that AIPAC is a powerful organization.

But to say that when it comes to US policy in the Middle East, they can set the course and tune is highly dubious.

Case in point: recent discussions in the US regarding an attack against Syria.

AIPAC was for it, but as we saw, there were great doubts as to whether the Congress would allow such an attack. So what happened? If all those who claim that AIPAC is large and in charge on the Hill, why were so many people against an attack against Syria in the Congress?

I also don’t buy the Walt and Meashimer theory that AIPAC was instrumental in the Iraq invasion. First and foremost, many of the Neo Conservatives they list were not members of the organization at that time. Furthermore, as former Israeli Brigadier General Shlomo Brom has stated, when the Israeli government was talking to the Americans (he was part of the delegation), the Israelis were saying that focus should be placed on Iran, while the Bush administration was adamant that Iraq should be attacked. Something which Shlom Brom has likened to a “conversation of the deaf”.

AIPAC is powerful? yes it is. But does it control and set US Middle East policy in the Congress? not from where I am standing.