Tag Archives: Obama

i24 interview: some in #Israel military intelligence have positive view of #Iran deal

11 Aug

Yesterday Amir Oren published a piece in Haaretz about the Iran deal and the view of some of Iran analysts working for the Israeli military intelligence. Among other things, in the article he states:

“There are those in the Intelligence Corps, including those in the research division dealing with ‪‎Iran‬, who have a very positive view of the nuclear agreement. “

Last night I was interviewed alongside Amir for the i24 news program, where Amir discussed his article in more details. He also mentioned an unprecedented intelligence sharing offer being made by the U.S which would give Israel access to raw intelligence material which no one else except the US would have. Netanyahu has not accepted this offer.

And how some in the military intelligence community are very concerned about the damage being caused to the Israel – US relations.

You can watch interview here:

When #Obama spoke to the #Israel public

4 Jun

A few nights ago, the popular Israel Channel 2 program Uvda aired an important interview with president Obama.

In it, he talked about the potential deal with Iran as well as the peace process (the lack of) and prime minister Netanyahu.

The interview is in English. Here are some important extracts. This is what president Obama had to say to the people of Israel:

Former Mossad chief stated Netanyahu behavior could be interpreted by U.S as spying

24 Mar

A new row has broken out between the Netanyahu and Obama administrations.

Former head of the Mossad Meir Dagan. Source

According to the Guardian:

The US has accused Israel of spying on international negotiations over Iran’s nuclear programme.

Meanwhile according to the Wall Street Journal which first broke this story, its not just the alleged spying thats really upsetting the Obama administration:

“It is one thing for the U.S. and Israel to spy on each other. It is another thing for Israel to steal U.S. secrets and play them back to U.S. legislators to undermine U.S. diplomacy,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the matter.

This new story reminded me of a quote which I read, by Meir Dagan the former chief of the Mossad.

In an interview with the Yediot Ahronot newspaper on the 27th of February he stated:

“What message does it send when our prime minister says that we don’t need information from the talks and that we have our own sources? Is he implying that we are spying on the United States?”

What this statement possibly tells us is that there were already concerns in Israel that Netanyahu’s statements alone, for whatever reason, could make the Americans think that Israel was spying on them.

The fact that this concern was aired in Israel 3 weeks before the Obama administration made the accusations is certainly noteworthy.

These are just assumptions. But what is not an assumption is that every week many of us think Israel – US government relations can’t get any worst, and every week reality proves us wrong.

This has got to stop.

In Netanyahu vs Obama: the winner is likely to be #Palestine

29 Oct

Make no mistake, after the US midterm elections, Netanyahu is going to take the gloves off. He is going to try to make life hell for Obama in any way he can in order to settle scores with him.

One area where Netanyahu is likely to try to make life difficult for Obama is Iran. If there is a deal between Iran and the P5+1, Netanyahu is likely to try to encourage the Congress to vote against the lifting of the sanctions. Or to slow down the implementation of America’s commitment, in any way possible, so that Obama looks like a lame duck.

And this is where the Palestinians enter the picture and are likely to be the biggest winner.

First scenario: Obama tries to settle scores with Netanyahu by not vetoing a very harsh resolution against Israeli settlements at the UNSC. Likely winner = Palestine as such a resolution is going to make it easier to isolate Israel and impose sanctions against the settlements in the international community.

Second scenario: AIPAC finds itself being pushed by both sides (Obama and Netanyahu), so it decides not to get involved or to reduce its involvement in such a scenario. Likely winner = Palestine. As far as the Palestinians are concerned, the less AIPAC is involved in anything to do with Israel, the better.

Whatever you think of AIPAC, it is an American organization. Despite its excellent relations with Israeli governments, its unlikely that it would want to be seen as standing against the President of the US in a long drawn out battle with the Prime Minister of Israel.  Such fights are the stuff of nightmares for AIPAC as its main goal is to strengthen relations between Israel and US governments. Publicly taking sides in a fight between the leaders of the two countries would be the last thing it wants.

Third scenario (and the less likely one): Obama does not VETO UNSC resolution which recognizes Palestine. Winner = Palestine.

Whatever happens, one of the aforementioned scenarios is likely to be realized and no matter which one is realized, Palestine is likely to be the winner.

Re: Ukraine – is the Middle East watching Obama?

4 Mar


This is the Middle East after all, and muscle flexing goes a long way. A very long way.

This is not Europe. Today, as I was reading this very interesting Washington Post op-ed by 3 former US ambassadors to Ukraine, I saw yet another great example of how the two regions are so vastly different – in terms of perceptions of strength.

The Russians have sent forces into Ukraine, and are even blocking Ukrainian ships from docking at their own port. And what advice do these gentlemen offer in their op-ed? Restraint. And they are right. In the context of that conflict, restraint is important. It also shows strength, because you are letting the other side fall into the trap of starting the war, even at the expense of seeing foreign troops enter your country.

But not here. Not in the Middle East. Another sovereign nation send forces into your territory? If you don’t react then you are seen as weak. The worst option is not responding militarily to such a move, even if it means that you are seen as the one who started the conflict. And once you are perceived as being “weak” then all sorts of things could happen. Your neighbours might start challenging you. And if you are a dictatorship, then your public could start thinking:”our tough leaders? they are not as tough as we thought”. And before you know it they may start challenging your rule domestically.

What does all this have to do with Obama?

In Europe, he may be seen as being cautious and clever by not showing his military and economic teeth in a more hostile manner, but in the Middle East, he will be seen as “weak”. As the man who blinked twice. Or worst, someone who may not be a reliable ally in case you are under attack.

George Bush did very little when Georgia was attacked by Russia in August 2008. But that didn’t impact his image in this region, because he was perceived as being strong by his allies. Why? Because of his preference for the military option, which he showed on many occasions.

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.

Netanyahu’s birthday present to Rouhani

12 Nov

12 of November is Hassan Rouhani’s birthday. He turned 65 today. 

And with minutes to go before the end of his birthday, he got a present from Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The present came in the form of a tender for the construction of 20,000 settlement homes by the Israeli government.

This is surely going to put more distance between the state of Israel and its biggest and most loyal ally, the United States. This something which Iran has wanted for many years, but could never accomplish on its own. But Rouhani does not have to worry as Netanyahu is inadvertently doing the job for him and the supreme leader. And judging by Netanyahu’s past, this will not be the last time.

So this year, Rouhani can expect quite a few birthday presents.