Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Strangling Israel slowly - Melanie Phillips


by Melanie Phillips

A remarkable realignment may be under way: Israel and the Arabs v America and Iran


What country other than Israel would be told by the so-called civilised world that it must not respond to an onslaught of more than 300 cruise and ballistic missiles and armed drones fired at the entire country?

If a minute fraction of such an attack were to be mounted against America  or Britain, they would declare themselves at war and destroy the enemy before it could attack them again. It’s only Israel that is not to be allowed to defend itself in the same way.

After Saturday night’s attack, in which Iran stopped hiding behind its proxies and revealed itself openly for the first time as the actual enemy of Israel and the free world, Israel reportedly intended to attack Iran but was stopped by US President Joe Biden in a phone call with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Biden’s public comments through his spokesman were grotesque. Israel, he said, should “take the win”and not “escalate tensions” with Iran since the attack had  caused minimal damage and casualties as a result  of Israel’s “military superiority”. 

So because Israel fended off that attack it must now do nothing against Tehran and wait for Iran to attack it again? Hezbollah has 150,000 missiles pointing at the whole of Israel. They are fast and accurate, and the fear is that Hezbollah will unleash so many they will overwhelm even Israel’s effective defences.

Does the Biden administration need to see a few thousand Israelis killed in skyscrapers if missiles get through to Haifa or Tel Aviv before it comes to its defence again?

Deterrence does not mean being able to defend yourself against attack. Deterrence means deterring an attack in the first place. Biden’s prohibition would destroy the very concept of Israeli deterrence and allow Iran to continue to tighten its ring of proxy fire around Israel in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen — and Gaza (where Biden wants Israel to submit to a Palestinian terrorist administration after the war). 

Israel only ever launches military operations in order to defend its people. Yet for Israel’s malevolent foes in the west, any such attack on its enemies is seen as revenge or needless and bloodthirsty warmongering —just as antisemites have claimed about the Jews throughout history. Indeed for some of these foes, for whom moral bankruptcy doesn’t begin to plumb the depths of their malevolence, Israel — the designated victim of a potential Iranian genocide — actually provoked the Iranian attack. As a headline summed up a venomous piece in the Guardian by Simon Tisdall:

Netanyahu wanted a wider conflict, and Tehran has walked into his trap. The major powers must immediately head this off.

What needs to be understood and shouted from the rooftops is that this whole infernal situation in the Middle East is America’s fault. Yes, the attackers on October 7 were Hamas — as well as “ordinary” Palestinian Arabs from Gaza who followed behind the Hamas stormtroopers to help rape, kill and take Israelis hostage. Yes, behind Hamas was Iran which not only trained and financed Hamas but whose Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Zahedi, who was amongst those killed by Israel in its attack on the IRGC nerve centre in Damascus (described wrongly by Israel’s foes as an Iranian consulate: it was next door) was reportedly the architect of the October 7 atrocities. 

But the reason Iran/Hamas felt emboldened to design and perpetrate this attack was because it had been empowered over the past two decades by American appeasement and gross ideological irresponsibility — or worse. 

In 2015, President Obama’s nuclear deal, which would have enabled a legitimate Iranian nuclear bomb with only a short delay, funnelled billions in sanctions relief into Tehran’s coffers, enabling it to advance its aim of regional hegemony and expand its terrorist empire of Islamic holy war across the world. 

This strategy of empowering Iran was continued by the Biden administration. It grovelled to Tehran in an attempt to restore the nuclear deal, relaxed sanctions once again and retaliated only sporadically and limply to repeated attacks by Iranian proxies on US forces in Iraq and Syria. 

Iran correctly thought that it could get away with unleashing Hamas on October 7, as well as increasing attacks by Hezbollah on northern Israel, because the Biden administration would prevent a full-on Israeli response. Not only has the US sat on the sidelines since October 7 while Israel has suffered daily missile attacks  by Hezbollah, but Biden told Israel not to hit Hezbollah hard as it obviously wanted to do. Biden also instructed Israel not to go into Rafah to finish off the remaining Hamas battalions in Gaza, which it needs to do to destroy Hamas as a military force. The US has intervened to stop the Houthi attacks only because its own interests are directly affected by the threat to shipping in the Red Sea. 

So Biden has prevented Israel from fully neutralising the threat from Hamas. He has prevented Israel from neutralising the threat from Hezbollah. And he has prevented Israel from neutralising the threat from Iran.

America could have stopped the war by hitting Iran; even introducing swingeing sanctions would have been a start.  Instead it has been harassing Israel and preventing it from neutralising its Iranian enemy. 

Yes, it came to Israel’s aid on Saturday night. Yes, it has supplied Israel with arms. But it won’t allow Israel to win. While preventing Israel from being visibly annihilated, it is setting it up to be slowly strangled. John Kirby, the White House national security spokesman, hailed the coalition that defended  Israel on Saturday night for showing

that they have friends in the region, that they have around the world that are willing to help them

But what this actually meant was that Israel will only have friends like the US willing to help them if it does what the US wants — which means not taking the decisive measures necessary to neutralise the threat from Iran once and for all.

Moreover, although there have been reports that the Biden administration tried hard to prevent Iran from attacking Israel, there have also been reports that the US effectively green-lighted the attack when Iran told the administration about it in advance — and said it wouldn’t escalate if Israel didn’t respond. 

That would explain why Iran used slow-moving missiles and drones for its attack rather than unleashing the full force of Hezbollah’s missiles from Lebanon. In other words, while declaring that America’s defence of Israel was “ironclad” and indeed coming to help defend it against the missile barrage, the Biden administration had colluded with Iran to calibrate an attack that would be manageable — and would enable Biden as a result to use Israel’s successful defence to instruct the beleaguered Jewish state to live now with the Iranian threat because there was clearly no reason not to do so. Colluding with the attack by Iran against Israel would prevent an attack by Israel against Iran.

This account may be unfounded. Unfortunately, though, such preposterous and appalling perfidy by the Biden administration is all too plausible. For one has to ask — as so often before — why in heaven’s name the US seems so determined to protect Iran, one of the principal enemies of civilisation.

Israel’s former ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, is surely correct to see the Biden administration in this respect as the third administration of Barack Obama. Oren writes

In one of the forty-fourth president’s first acts of foreign diplomacy, Obama sent an offer of reconciliation to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. That June, in his historic Cairo speech, Obama became the first president to refer to Tehran’s regime as the Islamic Republic of Iran—legitimizing the oppressive theocracy—and stood aside while that republic’s thugs beat and shot hundreds of Iranian citizens protesting for their freedom.

Over the next four years, the White House ignored a relentless spate of Iranian aggressions—attacks against U.S. Navy vessels in the Persian Gulf; backing for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups dedicated to America’s destruction; and barely disguised efforts to undermine pro-Western Middle Eastern governments…

In Washington, the administration overlooked an Iranian attempt to assassinate the Saudi and Israeli ambassadors (including me) and ended a federal investigation of a billion-dollar Hezbollah drug and arms trafficking ring in the United States. Most egregiously, Iran constructed secret underground nuclear facilities and developed an intercontinental ballistic missile delivery system that threatened the entire Middle East and much of Europe.

Why would any White House, even one devoted to rebuilding America’s relationship with the Islamic world, seek rapprochement with such a regime? 

Why indeed. Regardless of motive, what has has become all too clear is that the Obama/Biden administrations have been compromised by Iranian regime interests. 

As I wrote here, in 2014 senior Iranian Foreign Ministry officials initiated a quiet effort to bolster Tehran’s image over its nuclear programme through a network of influential overseas academics and researchers. At least two of the people on this Iranian network list were, or became, top aides to envoy Robert Malley. He was the point man on Iran under both the Obama and Biden administrations until he was placed on leave in June following the suspension of his security clearance.

The leaked materials showed that, in 2021, Malley helped infiltrate an Iranian agent of influence named Ariane Tabatabai, who was associated with the Iranian network, into the State Department to assist him in his negotiations with Iran.  Tabatabai then moved to the Pentagon, where she still serves as chief of staff to the Assistant Secretary of Defence for Special Operations Christopher Maier in an office that oversees hostage recovery.

No one will say why Malley was suspended other than it was over a “mishandling of classified material”. The tight secrecy suggests that what he did was devastating to national security. Meanwhile, as Lee Smith had written in Tablet:

Pro-Hamas and pro-Iran influencers inside the Pentagon are briefing that Israel is manipulating the US into a war with Iran.

In a very positive development that became clear with last Sunday’s attack on Israel, a remarkable alliance has now blossomed between Israel and Saudi Arabia and other Arab states. So now the Middle East is witnessing a remarkable and unsettling realignment: Israel and the Arabs versus America and Iran.

Melanie Phillips


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

is Melanie aware of the terms of the 1961 Vienna Convtion concerning what diplomatic premises are protected our not?

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