Friday, October 30, 2020

10/30 Links Pt1: Israel-Arab accords an earthquake for Palestinians, who pin their hopes on Biden; We can't let Erdogan get away with his incendiary behaviour

From Ian:

JPost Editorial: The significance of back-to-back pro-Israel policies ahead of elections
Explanations given by the US in the past for an unwillingness to connect Jerusalem – any part of Jerusalem – to Israel in passports revolved primarily around the idea that the status of Jerusalem in the eyes of most countries, is still pending, and that this is a hot-button issue that needs to be determined in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The US, according to this argument, did not want to prejudice the outcome of future negotiations by taking a stand on the issue. But that argument was disingenuous, because what about Jerusalem before 1967, before Israel repelled the Jordanian attack during the Six Day War and gained control of the entire city, east and west.

Why could Israel not be Jerusalem’s designated state in US passports before the Six Day War, when Israel only had control of the western part of the city?

The reason: because the US never formally relinquished its support for UN resolutions dating to the Partition Plan in 1947 calling for the city to be designated as a “corpus separatum’’ – a city with a special status to be placed under an international regime. Washington’s clinging on, at least formally, to the “corpus separatum” idea only really ended in 2018 when Trump moved the embassy to Jerusalem, in accordance with a 1995 US law.

The long-standing American refusal to acknowledge in passports that any part of Jerusalem was an integral part of Israel spoke of a belief, or even a hope, that it was not. This reinforced the pernicious notion – an idea propagated by Palestinian propaganda and which gained traction in recent years, and was even incorporated in the resolutions of various UN bodies – that Israel had no valid historical tie or claim to the Holy City. It was high time to put that idea to rest.

The US Supreme Court had the opportunity to do so in 2015, when it ruled on a case brought by Ari Zivotofsky to force the State Department to list “Jerusalem, Israel” as the place of birth for his son, Menachem, in conformity with a 2002 law passed by Congress. But the court missed the opportunity, ruling that the president, not Congress, has the sole authority to make these types of foreign policy decisions and the court struck down the law.

That being the case, once Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the US embassy there in 2018, it should have been just a matter of time for the State Department to change its procedures on this matter as well. These types of ingrained policies, apparently, are not easy to reverse, and it took over two years for this to happen.

To which we can only say: It’s about time.
Seth J. Frantzman: Cementing Israel's New Ties in Arab World Is Essential for Future
If you conduct foreign policy as a transaction, then there is always a chance that if some part of the transaction doesn't hold up, or if the person in the White House changes, that the foreign state will renege. That means that to cement Israel's relationships with the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and potentially other deals with Oman, Saudi Arabia or several other countries, the U.S. needs to continue to be a stakeholder—or Israel and its new friends need to move quickly to cement the deals.

Israel has had pragmatic relationships in the past. It reached out to Iran and Turkey in the 1950s, when Arab states were hostile, and then it signed peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan while never cultivating a particularly close relationship with either. Iran's regime is today the most hostile country to Israel and Turkey—and Turkey, which still has relations with Israel, has vowed to "liberate" Muslim areas of Jerusalem from the Jewish state. This shows how Israel's relationships in the region tend to be precarious.

How can relations with the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan learn from the challenges of the pas?

First, Israel and the UAE already share a worldview on the region, and can be part of an emerging U.S. alliance with India and Greece that would create a nexus of power from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean. This is predicated upon a strategic partnership with Washington built on F-35s for Israel, Greece and the UAE, and a close partnership between Israel and India that already exists. People-to-people relationships are also essential to developing ties between Abu Dhabi and Jerusalem. The business hubs in Tel Aviv and Dubai offer excellent opportunities. Already, there is cooperation on the medical front against COVID-19. The first ship has arrived in Israel from the Emirates, as well as the first flights.

The foundation for Israel's new friendships are being built. Now, the countries need to fill the new edifice with economic, cultural and, eventually, defense ties. Some of those ties are being pushed by Washington, but in the wake of the U.S. election, it is important that these new friendships grow on their own accord. Collective focus from Israeli, Emirati and other regional leaders, businessmen and civil society organizations can help make that happen.

Avi Issacharoff: Israel-Arab accords an earthquake for Palestinians, who pin their hopes on Biden
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has long been considered an anti-Israel institute, to put it mildly.

It was established following an Australian tourist’s attempt to burn down Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque in 1969. Its members are the representatives of 57 Islamic states, including Turkey and Iran, and for the past four years the organization has been headed by Secretary-General Yousef Al-Othaimeen, a Saudi politician. In February, the organization rejected US President Donald Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative, calling on its members not to cooperate with it.

On Monday, however, Al-Othaimeen sounded a very different tone.

In an interview to Sky News in Arabic, Al-Othaimeen said: “We need to think outside the box… This [Palestinian] issue has been going on for over 70 years. We have tried wars and throwing the Israelis into the sea; we have tried a lot. The new generation of our Palestinian brothers needs to try ideas that will lead to a solution to this problem, which is of interest to us all, but in new ways, ways that have not yet been tried, in order to reach a two-state solution with East Jerusalem as the capital of this state.”

Al-Othaimeen then asked: “Why insist on the path of resistance and boycott and distancing? What should be distanced are the traditional and familiar ideas.”

A few months ago such statements would have been inconceivable. That they were uttered this week, by the head of this organization, shows how the Israeli normalization agreement with Sudan, and the earlier agreements with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, have generated nothing short of a Middle East earthquake.

The world view of generations of Arabs in the region, in both Sunni and Shiite states, was shaped around the Palestinian issue and the conflict with Israel. Yet here before the astonished eyes of hundreds of millions of Muslim and Christian Arabs — and especially the Palestinians’ shocked gaze — that foundational worldview has collapsed. Suddenly, the Palestinians – who would wave the prospect of normalized relations with the Arab world as the carrot to try to convince Israel to resolve the conflict with them — now find themselves irrelevant. They woke up one morning to find that the presumed consensus, the very premise, the whole concept of Palestinian nationality is in real danger.

If Trump loses, his Middle East innovations should stick – opinion
Whether US President Trump is reelected next week or replaced by Joe Biden, many of the Trump administration’s novel Mideast policies should be adopted by the next administration, even if Democratic leaders shrink from crediting Trump for any breakthroughs.

Indeed, while Democrats will never admit it, Trump’s Middle East policy successes can stand the test of time for all parties involved – if they are not recklessly jettisoned out of partisan revenge.

There are three intersecting axes of Mideast policy that must not be abandoned.

The first is the unleashing of a fruitful regional dynamic whereby Arab states are moving to open partnership with Israel on a wide range of issues. Already this has led to three peace agreements (between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan). Additional Arab countries should be encouraged to follow suit by any American administration.

Sustaining this momentum requires active American diplomacy in support of Arab-Israel rapprochement, with signals coming from the highest levels in Washington and concrete offers of US aid on the table (yes, including weapons).

It also requires continuing stiff American resolve in opposing Iran’s hegemonic designs in the region. Tenacity is a key ingredient of the glue that brings Sunni Arab states, Israel and the US together. (More on this below).

It also requires resisting the temptation to over-prioritize the Palestinian issue. America must refrain from magnifying Palestinian grievances into the “central issue” in Mideast affairs. It never was, and certainly is not today.

That brings us to second axis of intelligent Mideast policy over the past four years: Treating Palestinians as responsible adults, with no free pass regarding the type of state/s they might establish.
Algemeiner Editor-in-Chief: US Jewish Vote Seems ‘Entrenched as Ever,’ Yet There Still Could Be ‘Surprise’
Ahead of next week’s presidential election, the US Jewish vote — typically heavily favoring Democratic candidates — appears to be “as entrenched as ever,” the editor-in-chief of The Algemeiner said during a Wednesday appearance on i24 News, yet there still could be a “surprise.”

How Jews vote, Dovid Efune told “Global Eye” host Natasha Kirtchuk, “boils down to a matter of priorities.”

“I think there really is consensus in the American Jewish community that the president has done some incredible things for Israel and I think it’s not a stretch to say that he has been the most pro-Israel president in the history of the United States — certainly in recent history,” he noted. “Even on the Democratic side, there is a great deal of agreement on that point.”

“Having said that,” Efune added, “his opponents will tend to prioritize a host of other issues — social issues, for example. There’s also a great sense of frustration over the president’s character.”

Good for America, Israel and the Jews
For a believing Jew, or simply a Jew connected to his roots and to Israel, one simply needs to examine this president’s accomplishments in less than four years to understand his greatness:

-Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city and moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem.
-Closing the PLO’s official office in Washington, which served until that time as a shadow embassy and a fundraising channel for terrorism.
-Removing the USA from the horrible Iran deal, which had legitimized Iranian non-compliance with attempts to end their nuclear bomb program.
-Recognition of the strategic Golan Heights as Israel’s sovereign territory.
-Declaring that Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria are not illegal.
-Ending funding to the Palestinian Authority until it stops paying salaries to terrorists who have killed or wounded Israelis.
--Denying funding to American colleges that permit anti-Semitism to flourish on campus.
-Brokering normalization agreements between Israel and three Arab countries, thereby removing the Palestinian veto on such relationships.
-Recognizing that hatred of Israel and hatred of the Jewish state are usually one and the same.
-Pointing out the lie that the most dangerous form of anti-Semitism today is from white supremacists rather than from the radical Left and Muslim haters of Israel.
100 times President Trump supported Israel
Speaking with educator and rational settler Uri Pilochowski about his latest list.

US hands out first Jerusalem, Israel passport to Menachem Zivotofsky
After their son Menachem’s birth in 2002, Ari and Naomi Zivotofksy asked for a passport that recorded his birthplace as Jerusalem, Israel but they received the document only this Friday - some 18 years later.

“I am honored to receive this passport as a representative of the many American citizens who were born in Israel, who can now have their official government documents reflect the fact that they were born in Israel. I want to thank my parents who started this process, long before I understood anything,” Menachem said.

He spoke at a brief ceremony at the US embassy in Jerusalem, in which US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman officially handed him his passport, the first one ever to link Jerusalem with the State of Israel.

His parents, told The Jerusalem Post prior to the ceremony that they had requested to register his place of birth as Israel, fully believing such a step would happen, because a 2002 US Congressional Law that had just passed, gave them the option to do so.

They were surprised therefore when the consular office rejected their request.

The consular officer was “emphatic about it,” Ari said.

They filed a legal appeal, which went twice to the US Supreme Court, that ultimately ruled that Congress has exceeded its authority and that the decision with regard to country designation was under the purview of the White House.

How the EU is trying to overthrow the Israeli government
As EU Budget Rapporteur 2019, I have been shocked to find out that the far-left and anarchist organizations protesting outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s house in Balfour Street in Jerusalem are allegedly financed from abroad, mainly by the EU and Germany.

On Sept. 30th, Likud MK and chair of the Caucus on Combating Delegitimization & Anti-Semitism Ariel Kallner wrote to German ambassador Dr. Susanne Wasum-Rainer to complain about German funding for left-wing Human Rights Defenders Fund (HRDF), which provides legal defense to the violent protestors.

As Chairman of the Knesset Caucus on Combating Delegitimization, Kallner wrote: “I would like to express my sincere concern about this intervention in Israel’s internal affairs that constitutes an undermining of its sovereignty.”

In her answer of Oct. 5, German Ambassador Dr. Susanne Wasum-Rainer denied the allegations. She claimed the German Government “does not support or fund any violent or illegal activities of civil society organizations”, and that “any organization or project funded by the Federal German government has successfully passed a thorough and transparent screening process.”

There is actually nothing transparent about German and EU funding of anti-Israel NGOs. The European Court of Auditors stated in 2018 “that the Commission was not sufficiently transparent regarding the implementation of EU funds by NGOs.”
Col Kemp: We can't let Erdogan get away with his incendiary behaviour
He vocally supports the Muslim Brotherhood, proscribed as a terrorist entity by many countries in the Middle East and elsewhere. Earlier this month, he outrageously declared Jerusalem to be a Turkish city and fiercely opposed the historic Abraham peace accords between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

Erdogan has form on sponsoring terrorists. He has funded, encouraged and facilitated the proscribed group Hamas, hosting their leaders in Istanbul and allowing them to plot attacks against Israel on Turkish soil. Despite his strident self-promotion in fighting Isil, there have been indications of complicity and increasing evidence that Turkey is a permissive jurisdiction for Isil and other jihadist networks.

Standing on the frontier between Europe and the Middle East, Turkey is an important strategic ally for the West. But Erdogan is not, and appeasement will not curb his despotism. France, and Europe, cannot allow his aggression to continue unchecked.

The European Union and other Western powers should impose sanctions. Despite Erdogan’s defiant bluster, this could be a particularly effective tool at a time when the Turkish lira is plunging and now sits at an all-time low against the dollar.

Turkey’s membership of Nato should also be reviewed. Turkey is a significant player in the alliance, with nearly three quarters of a million men under arms. But in a challenge to Nato’s integrity, last year Erdogan acquired the Russian S-400 missile system.

Even consideration of Turkey’s status within Nato would represent a major blow to Erdogan’s prestige as his political support in Turkey is on the decline. We can't let him get away with his misdeeds.

MEMRI: Translations Of Reactions To The Beheading Of French Teacher Samuel Paty – From The Middle East, Europe, And The U.S.
Following the October 16, 2020 Islamist beheading of French teacher Samuel Paty, MEMRI has translated and published reactions to it from across the Middle East, Europe, and the U.S. These reports and clips include statements by jihadi and domestic terror organizations, reformists, religious leaders, and others throughout the Muslim world. In the coming days, we will be continuing to add translations, reports, and videos on this subject to our archives.

Below are reports and clips from the MEMRI Special Dispatch Series, MEMRI TV (including the Sermons by Imams in the West Project), the Domestic Terrorism Threat Monitor (DTTM), and the Jihad & Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM).

Tom Gross on BBC Arabic: Palestinians should negotiate or risk becoming forgotten like North Cyprus
The Palestinians have been badly advised by some of their left-wing friends in Europe and America, people like John Kerry, who told them not to negotiate for the last four years. This was a huge mistake. Whoever wins next week’s US elections, the Palestinian Authority should return to open negotiations with Israel without pre-conditions and under American auspices. Otherwise history may pass them by as the rest of the Arab world makes peace with Israel, and the Palestinians risk becoming a forgotten conflict like Northern Cyprus. Instead of continuing to praise suicide bombers and arrest Palestinians who want to have good relations with Israel, Fatah and Hamas should allow the many Palestinians who want to do so, to reach out culturally to Israelis in the way that Emiratis and Bahrainis are currently doing.

White House informs Congress of plans to sell as many as 50 F-35s to UAE
The Trump administration has updated Congress of its intent to sell F-35 advanced fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates, a ranking House Democrat announced on Thursday.

The informal notification to the House Foreign Affairs Committee revealed that the White House plans to sell as many as 50 units of the Lockheed Martin-made jets for roughly $10.4 billion, a senior congressional staffer told The Times of Israel. Israel has ordered the same number of F-35s from the US, though not all of them have been transferred yet.

The committee’s chairman, Elliot Engel (D-NY), will introduce legislation on Friday to prevent the sale from moving forward without strong assurances that it won’t harm Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME) in the region and that American adversaries will not be able to gain access to the military technology, the staffer said. Similar legislation has already been introduced in the Senate as well.

The informal notification given on Thursday was a courtesy that is not technically required of the White House. However, it has been effective policy for decades to consult with the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs committees before an official notification of a weapons sale is submitted to Congress. This gives lawmakers an opportunity to raise objections and even try and block a particular transfer.

Thursday’s update is still an early step in the process, and a formal notification from the State Department to Congress is still required. Reuters reported that the White House is hoping to submit the formal notification in December. At that point, lawmakers will have 30 days to produce a resolution to block the sale, though two-thirds of Congress would be needed to override a presidential veto.
Israeli-Grown Produce Could Be on Sale in UAE by Early November
Israeli farmers, who face stiff competition in their main export markets in Europe, might be able to sell their produce in the Persian Gulf as early as November.

The United Arab Emirates this week authorized the import of Israeli produce following the two nations’ normalization agreement, Israel’s Agriculture Ministry said in announcing the possible start date.

While Israeli exporters have diversified their markets in response to the mounting competition in Europe, demand hasn’t been sufficient, the ministry said. The UAE imported 80% of the $10 billion in fresh produce sold there in 2018, according to the ministry, and is a trade hub for goods sent on to eastern Asia.

Israel’s agricultural exports totaled $1.15 billion in 2018, according to ministry figures.

Is Turkey awaiting US election to threaten Israel? – analysis
Turkey has been threatening many countries in recent months. But noticeably absent from the incitement campaign that Ankara tends to run against Greece, Armenia, France and others is Israel.

This is not because Turkey’s ruling party likes Israel; indeed, Turkey is one of the most hostile countries in the world to Israel. Turkey’s president has hosted Hamas terrorists twice this year, has compared Israel to the Nazis and has threatened to break off relations with the UAE after the Gulf state and Israel signed a normalization deal.

So why has Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the leadership in Ankara been relatively silent on Israel recently? It appears that Turkey has been wary of provoking a crisis with Israel because of strong support from the Trump administration.

When the US president took office, Turkey reached out to his team. Turkey believed that the Obama administration’s policies in Syria were wrong and had accused the US of working with Kurdistan Workers Party “terrorists.”

However, Turkey lost out when Trump’s first national security advisor, Michael Flynn, left his job in the first few weeks of the presidency. It next turned its attention to the State Department and to Syria envoy James Jeffrey. Erdogan also became the world leader with whom Trump appeared to speak with more frequently.
IDF sends aid to Turkey following disastrous earthquake
An earthquake has struck near the Turkish city of Izmir and the Greek island of Samos. Reports say the earthquake was large, measuring 7.0 on the Richter Scale. Destruction could be seen across the skyline of the city as dust rose and buildings collapsed. Flooding then occurred after the sea briefly retreated from the harbor, leaving boats on the sea bed before the water rushed in.

Soon after the disaster, Defense Minister Benny Gantz instructed the IDF to prepare emergency aid for Turkey.

Gantz announced that he had instructed the IDF in a tweet, adding that a conversation was opened between IDF military representatives and the Turkish military attaché in Israel.

During the conversation the IDF representatives conveyed to Turkish authorities that Israel's defense establishment and the State of Israel share their grief over the disaster and are ready to send a delegation immediately that will help rescue buildings destroyed in the area and deploy a field hospital to treat the many wounded.

Gantz announced in a separate statement that the "State of Israel and its security forces will always reach out for humanitarian assistance to civilians who are injured no matter where they are, by using the capabilities and experience gained in the IDF over the years to deal with emergencies."
What Ails Arab Economies Is Older Than Covid-19
The International Monetary is predicting the economies in the Arab nations of the Middle East and North Africa will contract by 5.4% in 2020-21 due to the covid-19 pandemic and the collapse in international oil prices. (I’ve left out Lebanon and Libya, because they face exceptional circumstances.) This means the Arab MENA region, despite being among the least affected by the pandemic in terms of confirmed cases and deaths, will suffer disproportionate economic pain.

The IMF’s economic outlook for the world shows that economic contraction has been proportionate to the public-health crisis caused by the pandemic in most regions — North America, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, South Asia. The U.S. economy is to contract by 4.3%, the Euro zone, Latin America and India by 8.3%, 8.1% and 10.3%, respectively. Conversely, China is expected to grow by 1.9%, which reflects Beijing’s effective containment of early outbreaks.

Now look at Arab MENA region, excluding Israel and Iran. On the public-health front, the Arab nations have done relatively well when compared to many other parts of the world. This is borne out by the data for Covid-19 deaths per million people in the period between December 2019 and October 2020. The ratios for the U.S., European Union and South American were 673.80, 360.45 and 661.29, respectively. The average for the Arab world was 79.46 per million. For the most populated Arab nations — Egypt, Algeria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Tunisia — the average was even lower, at 62.21 per million.

Even if there is some underreporting in the figures for these countries, they should be comparable to the other parts of the world with similar income levels and relatively limited state capacities to collect, process and report data.

Nobody knows for sure why some world regions are worse-hit than others. However, the situation in the Arab MENA becomes more inexplicable still when you consider that some of its most populated countries — like Egypt — never had full lockdowns for extended periods. This should have mitigated the economic impact of the pandemic, but did not. How can this be explained?

Israel's coronavirus death toll tops 2,500
Israel's COVID-19 death toll crossed 2,500 on Thursday and on Friday morning stood at 2,511.

On Thursday, 36,318 coronavirus tests identified 630 new cases, a positive percentage of 1.8%, the Health Ministry reported Friday morning.

As of Friday morning, there were 11,254 active of symptomatic patients in Israel, with 738 hospitalized, 410 of whom were listed in serious condition. Of those 410, 190 were on ventilators.

Meanwhile, the Corona cabinet decided on Thursday night to allow independent shops to open for business starting Nov. 8, after the Health Ministry opposed reopening businesses starting Sunday, Nov. 1.

The cabinet also decided that synagogues would be allowed to reopen on Saturday, but would be restricted to 10 worshippers inside and 20 outside.

Rural B&B accommodations will also be allowed to return to business starting Sunday, but serve only nuclear families. Shared pools and dining rooms at the facilities must remain closed.

Hair salons, beauty salons, and alternative health treatments will also be permitted starting Sunday.

The meeting was fraught. Finance Minister Israel Katz accused the Health Ministry of "waging a war of prestige on the backs of small businesses."
Female combat soldiers to cross enemy lines, face Hezbollah in IDF first
Female combat soldiers will be front line combat soldiers, called on to cross borders and fight Hezbollah in Lebanon for the first time, Kan news reported.

Ten female soldiers from the IDF's field intelligence corps will make up a drone operating team within the previously all-male field intelligence battalion stationed on Israel's northern border.

The unit is expected to become fully operational in the coming weeks.

Combat soldiers are divided into front line combat soldiers and combat soldiers with the division based on who crosses into enemy territory for operational activity. Front line combat soldiers receive salary bonuses and other incentives for their service in these units.

Female combat soldiers have historically not been allowed in units that cross Israel's borders and so have not been able to fill front line combat roles.

In August, the IDF formed a committee to consider allowing women to serve in all combat positions in response to a recent petition to the High Court of Justice that asked it to force the military to allow women to try out for units that are currently open only to men.

Women are still barred from serving in infantry brigades, armored brigades, submarines and certain elite reconnaissance units, such as Sayeret Matkal and the Navy’s Shayetet 13.
IDF says bomb thrown at troops, who then open fire; 3 Palestinians injured
Israeli troops opened fire on a Palestinian car overnight Thursday-Friday after a homemade bomb was thrown from the vehicle at a junction manned by soldiers in the central West Bank, the army said.

A statement from the Israel Defense Forces said soldiers responded after the “improvised explosive device” was thrown from the speeding car.

“The soldiers blocked the road to stop the terrorist cell. The car accelerated in their direction and the fighters responded by firing at the terrorists,” a statement from the Israel Defense Forces said, adding that the car was hit by bullets.

There were no reports of Israeli injuries.

Palestinian media reported that three people in the car were wounded during the incident, which took place near the West Bank city of Jenin.

The Kan public broadcaster said the three were aged 15 and 16. One of them was said to be in serious condition with the other two moderately wounded from shrapnel.

Ynet news site reported that one of those injured in the incident was the son of Zakaria Zubeidi, a former Palestinian terrorist leader charged with carrying out attacks against Israelis dating back over a decade.

Zubeidi, a 43-year-old former commander for Fatah’s military wing, has been indicted on 24 counts for his role in a number of shooting and bombing attacks starting in 2003.
Has Israel’s ‘war between the wars’ strategy worked against Iran in Syria?
The question about the delayed war is what is Iran’s timetable. Iran appears satisfied to continue to arm and improve Hezbollah and also to eat away at the Syrian state, co-opting regions of Syria for its own networks that plug-in to its allied militias in Iraq and Lebanon. Pro-Iranian militia leaders from Iraq, such as Qais Khazali, travelled to Lebanon in 2017 to threaten Israel. It is clear from the comments in 2019 after alleged Israeli airstrikes in Iraq that these militia leaders see Israel as a central enemy, especially if they are able to evict the U.S. from Iraq and concentrate on Israel. Similarly the Syrian regime wants the US out of Tanf to create contiguity in its territory. Russia, focused on northern Syria, can accommodate Israel for now.

It is less certain if Iran would have wanted to launch a conflict earlier had there been no campaign between the wars. It certainly would have established a much large footprint in Syria had its facilities not been targeted. As Iran has set up shop, Hezbollah has had to recuperate from losses in Syria’s war over the years. When Iran did order salvos fired at Israel or a drone penetration, it used rockets with relative lack of sophistication. Iran has been achieving new precision with its missiles, as illustrated by attacks in Koya in Iraq in 2018, against U.S personnel at Al-Asad base in Iraq in Jan. 2020 and against ISIS in Syria in 2017 and 2018. These missiles, the Shahab, Zulfiqar, Qiam and similar types Iran improved over the last ten years are increasingly lethal and they may get a boost as Iran is able to get out from under an arms embargo and renew work with North Korea. Iran’s use of drones and cruise missiles to target Saudi Arabia in 2019 and its technical advice and weapons trafficking to the Houthis in Yemen reveal capabilities far beyond what it has so-far used against Israel. This may be due to being deterred by knowledge of the Trump administration’s total support for Israel and distraction by the US presence in Iraq. It may be testing its ordnance on what it sees as weaker countries that it is less deterred by.

How much of Iran’s material in Syria that has been destroyed is not replaceable? If the air strikes have hit factories, warehouses and storage facilities, as satellite images appear to show that they have, how many of these missiles and other munitions cannot be replaced? There is lack of information on this key issue but reports about Hezbollah’s attempt to build more precision guided guided missile threats through indigenous production seems to show Iran may have shifted strategy to move infrastructure to Lebanon, where airstrikes have not taken place.

Will the window close on Syria’s airspace being open to airstrikes? Syria has a long way to go in this respect because of the US and Turkish presence and Russia’s focus on the north while Iran gets a free-for-all between Albukamal and T-4 and Damascus. This triangle of Iranian influence, from the Golan to T-4 to Albukamal is the center of concern for Iran’s entrenchment. The tensions with Hezbollah near the Golan indicate that demands that Iranian networks be kept away from the Golan have not been fulfilled due to a power vacuum in southern Syria. The Alma Research and Education Center and other reports have shown that Hezbollah infrastructure, dubbed the Hezbollah “Golan file,” remains in place. If the campaign between the wars was designed to deter or remove Hezbollah entrenchment, as several Israeli defense ministers have said, then that has not happened. The overall campaign is also open ended.

This could mean that Israel’s efforts in Syria begins to look more like other open-ended conflicts, such as the U.S. has fought during the Global War on Terror. Unlike Israel’s involvement in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s, it doesn’t involve any boots on the ground. It is an air war, like the U.S. conducts in Somalia or Yemen or elsewhere against threats. However, unlike the U.S. conflicts, this is a war that is not in a far off country – but directly next door. Hezbollah’s attempt to impose a price for any casualties in Syria does not appear to bode well, creating a constant cycle of crisis whenever Hezbollah wants to entrench. It also presents a Iran with opportunities to threaten Israel and to knit together its Iraqi proxies with pro-Iranian elements in Syrian and Lebanon.
US Seizes Iranian Missiles, Slaps Iran-Related Sanctions on 11 Entities
The United States revealed on Thursday it had seized Iranian missiles shipped to Yemen and sold 1.1 million barrels of previously seized Iranian oil that was bound for Venezuela, in the Trump administration’s latest move to increase pressure on Tehran less than a week before Nov. 3 election.

The unsealing of the forfeiture complaints, by the Justice Department, came at the same time that the Treasury Department and State Department jointly slapped sanctions on a combined 11 different entities and individuals for their involvement in the purchase and sale of Iranian petrochemicals.

The latest actions against Iran come after US intelligence officials earlier this month alleged that Iranian hackers sought to threaten some American voters by sending them spoofed emails that were made to appear as though they were from the pro-Trump Proud Boys group.

Michael Sherwin, the acting US attorney for the District of Columbia, said on Thursday that the unsealing of the Justice Department’s complaints was “divorced from politics.”

“These actions started last summer. And these are fluid, organic situations,” he said.

The Justice Department’s forfeiture civil cases involve alleged schemes by the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to secretly ship weapons to Yemen and fuel to Venezuela.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.