Today in Tehran

Posted: June 16th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News | Tags: , | Comments Off

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Four more Years: Ahmadinejad Wins

Posted: June 13th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: elections, In the News | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

cross-posted with FPW.

Events are still rolling in Iran, but Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared winner in the presidential elections, and there are no indications that the demonstrations of Mir Hossein Mousavi’s supporters can change that. Not with the supreme leader Ali Khemenei and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps on the president’s side.

Here are some of my initial thoughts on the matter.

● Some people might see the election’s outcome as a blow for president Obama. This is true only to a certain extent. I don’t believe the American president was thinking that his speech in Cairo – inspiring as it was – will result in immediate political changes in the region. Things just don’t work this way, so we shouldn’t credit Obama for the success of the pro-western coalition in Lebanon, nor for the reformists’ failure in Iran.

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Obama’s Speech: the Israeli Perspective

Posted: June 5th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

The people behind the excellent Foreign Policy Watch blog invited me to write for them during this summer. I will cross-post most of the stuff here. Here are some thoughts I wrote for FPW yesterday, following Barak Obama’s speech in Cairo.

President Obama touched a variety of subjects on his long-awaited speech to the Arab world today, starting from cultural differences, through religion and finally geopolitics. He mentioned countries and events all across the region, and made many historical and political analogies which could be analyzed and debated. I am not an expert on the Arab world, so I will focus on the two major issues that concerned the Israelis listening to the speech – and they were listening, believe me – which are Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

TO AN ISRAELI EAR, what was interesting in Obama’s speech was that on the surface, the American president didn’t really say anything new. He didn’t need to – the location, as well as the events leading to the speech, made all the difference.

Before we get to hardcore politics, what was most striking and impressive, was the effort Obama took in explaining the special relationship between the US and Israel, and especially his clear words against Holocaust denial, which is becoming somewhat of a phenomenon in several Arab countries. Some people didn’t like the fact that Obama went straight from there to the Palestinian tragedy, but most Israelis I talked to were incredibly impressed by the president’s insistence to speak so firmly on the matter in this particular speech, and in that particular place.

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His Holiness, the Commander in Chief

Posted: May 13th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: The Right, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

With Washington becoming the capitol of the new Evil Empire in the eyes of the the right wing’s wackos, the Post’s Caroline Glick has an idea regarding whom we should turn to for international support:

Like nature, Israel’s strategic relations abhor a vacuum. In the wake of the Obama administration’s decision to drastically curtail the US’s strategic alliance with Israel in the interest of American rapprochement with Iran and Syria, the Netanyahu government has been moving swiftly to fill the void.

On Monday, with Pope Benedict XVI’s arrival and with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at Sharm e-Sheikh, two potential strategic alliances came into view.

Brilliant! Obama and his stealth fighter jets can go to hell – We are taking Iran with the pope!

The Vatican's Guard (VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

The Vatican's Guard (VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)


Obama’s Middle East Plan

Posted: May 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The weekend papers dealt mainly with the new policy for the Middle East that US president Barak Obama is supposed to present in the following weeks, maybe even before his meeting with PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

Most pundits and reporters agree on this: the administration is determined to prevent Israel from attacking Iran (it is unclear whether Israel can actually do that on its own, and without flying over American occupied Iraq. On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine the US shooting down Israeli jets). Obama will offer the Iranians some kind of deal – maybe one which will include financial benefits, in exchange for freezing its nuclear program and giving the UN inspectors unlimited access to all facilities.

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Armageddon?

Posted: March 18th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: The Right, the US and us, war | Tags: , , | Comments Off

The prospect of a right-wing narrow government starts to dwell on people. Foreign Policy‘s David Rothkopf sees WWIII on the horizon:

“First, the conflict will be political, potentially very intense and may well transform the U.S.-Israeli relationship. Later, the conflict may become military with the Israelis acting (alone or not) against the Iranians. The upside of the overall trend: the U.S. is perceived as more balanced in the region. The downside: the U.S.-Israel relationship is likely to weaken (I know some of you may see that as an upside)…oh, and also, possibly, nuclear Armageddon”

This is a bit hysterical, I think. When Iran will acquire the bomb (and I think it’s a “when” and not an “if”), Israel will just have to find a way to live with it: whether with the help of a defense treaty with the US, or simply by the power of its own nuclear deterrence (Israel is said to have second strike capabilities). An Iranian bomb won’t cause Israel to break with the US; quite the opposite: it will make Israel more dependent on America.


Israel and a Nuclear Iran

Posted: December 23rd, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off

I just ran into an interesting post on Yossi Melman’s blog. Melman is Haaretz’s intelligence and secret services reporter. His blog [in Hebrew] deals with national security issues and bicycle riding.

In this post Melman lists some of the major mistakes by the Israeli intelligence agencies in recent years – like missing out completely on Hamas’ possible success in the elections, or the Hizbullah’s intentions in Lebanon.

Most of all, he deals with the intelligence assumption that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction prior to The Second Gulf War. Unlike the US, says Melman, Israel never had a public debate on that error and its consequences.

But the nugget comes at the end. Following a mail from one of his readers, Melman has an interesting and disturbing observation:

“A military and financially strong Iraq was one of Israel’s strategic assets. Iraq and Iran kept maintaining their conflict, and none of them would have allowed the other side to get such an advantage that would put his sovereignty in danger. By encouraging the US invasion of Iraq, Israel has brought upon itself a nuclear Iran”