Jordan Unlikely to Become a Regional Sparta - David Schenker (Foreign Affairs)
For the past six months, opposition in Jordan to the war by the anti-ISIS coalition was broad-based. However, that changed after the burning alive of the captured Jordanian pilot.
Although an immediate robust Jordanian military response is appropriate, it's not at all certain that the kingdom will keep up the tempo of operations after the fury over the pilot dissipates.
Over time, concerns about force preservation may ultimately compel the kingdom to dial back its own expanded military efforts in Syria. Jordan is unlikely to become a regional Sparta any time soon.
The writer is director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan Refuses to Condemn the Islamic State for Killing Jordanian Pilot - Yoni Ben Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Despite a show of unity in Jordan following the execution by fire of pilot Muath Al-Kasasbeh, and a call to arms to avenge the killing, the Muslim Brotherhood is unwilling to join the Hashemite Kingdom in an anti-IS coalition.
The Brotherhood's leader in Jordan, Sheikh Hammam Said, claimed on Feb. 5 that "Jordan should not be part of a coalition run by the United States."
Mahmoud Abbas Gets a Free Pass - David Keyes (Daily Beast)
"Moderate" Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last week publicly hugged the genocidal leader of Sudan, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir; ordered an investigation into a cartoonist for publishing a drawing of Mohammed; and entered his 10th year of a four-year term of office.
Under Abbas' rule, the PA has arrested activists for Facebook posts and jailed atheists. Two weeks ago, a student was imprisoned for insulting the head of the Palestinian Football Federation. Torture is rampant.
Decades of propping up Palestinian dictators from Yasser Arafat to Mahmoud Abbas have not solved the problem of radicalism - they've actually strengthened it.
A modest solution is to begin using the West's immense political and economic leverage to encourage real democratic reform in the Palestinian Authority.
Tyrants that stifle dissent are not moderates. The free world should stop pretending that they are.
The writer is the executive director of Advancing Human Rights.
Former Florida Professor Deported from U.S. over Palestinian Terrorist Ties - Letitia Stein (Reuters)
Former Florida university professor Sami Al-Arian was deported on Wednesday to Turkey, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said.
Al-Arian was arrested in 2003 on charges that he gave money and support to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. A jury later acquitted Al-Arian of 8 of the 17 charges against him, failing to reach a verdict on the remaining counts.
In 2006, Al-Arian pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide services to the organization. He agreed to be deported after serving his prison sentence.
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- Obama: Time Has Come for Iran to Decide on Nuclear Deal - Nedra Pickler
President Barack Obama said Monday that the time has come for Iran to decide whether to accept a nuclear deal, and he acknowledged "very real differences" with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the negotiations. "I don't want to be coy - the prime minister and I have a very real difference around Iran's sanctions," Obama said at a White House news conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.
Israel has long claimed a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a grave threat to world peace and security. Israel views a nuclear-armed Iran a threat to its very existence, noting calls by Iranian leaders for destruction of the Jewish state.
Obama warned Tehran that he sees no reason to further extend negotiations for a basic agreement next month. "We're at a point where they need to make a decision," Obama said. The only question remaining is, "Does Iran have the political will and desire to get a deal done?" (AP)
- Kerry: Assad and ISIS Have "Symbiotic" Relationship - Gopal Ratnam and John Hudson
"The Assad regime and ISIL [ISIS] are dependent on one another," Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday. "They are symbiotic." Assad "purports to be the last line of defense against ISIL. Both are stronger as a result....Assad has relentlessly bombed areas held by the moderate opposition while doing little to hinder ISIL."
The U.S. has realized that without degrading ISIL's stronghold inside Syria, the group can't be defeated inside Iraq.
Moreover, moderate rebel groups fighting the Islamic State that could potentially be an alternative to Assad are facing mounting attacks by both the Syrian regime and ISIL militants. (Foreign Policy)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu: Speech at Congress Is Existential, Not Political - Herb Keinon and Michael Wilner
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday he is adamant about going to Washington and presenting Israel's position on Iran to Congress and the American people. "At a time when there are those who are dealing with protocol and politics, a bad deal is being put together in Munich that will endanger Israel's existence," he said.
"From the establishment of the state until today there have been disagreements on substantive issues with the U.S., and the relations remained strong, and that will be the case this time as well," he said.
The "true question" is whether Iran will have nuclear bombs to "implement its intention to destroy the State of Israel. That is something we will not allow."
This is not a political issue either in Israel or the U.S., Netanyahu said.
"This is an existential issue." (Jerusalem Post)
- Five Israeli-Arabs, Part of Fatah Terror Network, Indicted for Throwing Firebombs at Jews' Homes - Yoav Zitun and Aviel Magnezi
Five Israeli-Arabs involved in the creation of a terror network under the command of Fatah operative Marwan Khalil Jayousi, 23, including dozens of residents of the A-Tur neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem, were indicted Monday. Their activities included hurling firebombs, fireworks, stones and explosives at Israeli security forces and Jewish homes. After Jayousi was arrested in September 2014, the terror network continued operating until January 2015 under the command of Fatah operative Bahar Amad al-Maghribi, 23.
- Kissinger on Iran:
Has the U.S. Already Conceded a New Era of Nuclear Proliferation? - Editorial
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Jan. 29:
"Nuclear talks with Iran began as an international effort, buttressed by six UN resolutions, to deny Iran the capability to develop a military nuclear option. They are now an essentially bilateral negotiation over the scope of that capability through an agreement that sets a hypothetical limit of one year on an assumed breakout. The impact of this approach will be to move from preventing proliferation to managing it."
Mr. Kissinger is clearly worried about how far the U.S. has moved from its original negotiating position. And he is concerned that these concessions will lead the world to perceive that such a deal would put Iran on the cusp of being a nuclear power. "If the other countries in the region conclude that America has approved the development of an enrichment capability within one year of a nuclear weapon, and if they then insist on building the same capability, we will live in a proliferated world in which everybody - even if that agreement is maintained - will be very close to the trigger point."
A world with multiple nuclear states, including some with revolutionary religious impulses or hegemonic ambitions, is a very dangerous place. Mr. Kissinger's concerns underscore the need for Congressional scrutiny and a vote on any agreement with Iran.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Congress Speech Gives Israel a Seat at P5+1 Talks with Iran - Seth Lipsky
Why doesn't Israel have a seat at the table in the main negotiations with Iran, which is openly declaring its intention to destroy the Jewish state? It's one thing to parse the fine points of etiquette with respect to who gets to invite the prime minister to address a joint meeting of Congress. But what do those who want to exclude Netanyahu from addressing Congress have to say about Israel's absence at the P5+1?
This whole charade with Iran is being conducted in exclusion of the very state against whom Iran intends to use the nuclear weapons it covets.
The idea that either the Speaker inviting Israel to speak to the Congress or the Congress preparing contingency sanctions is a violation of some kind of diplomatic tradition is bizarre, given more than 50 years of congressional involvement in arms-control talks, as detailed in the Wall Street Journal. (Ha'aretz)
See also The Senate and Iran's Bomb - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
- Why the CIA Killed Imad Mughniyeh - Matthew Levitt
Last week the Washington Post reported on the CIA's role in the February 2008 assassination of Hizbullah master terrorist Imad Mughniyeh, a man responsible for the deaths of more Americans than anyone else until 9/11. Most people - including Hizbullah - assumed it was the Israelis, acting alone, who killed Mughniyeh, given his role in acts of terror targeting Israelis and Jews around the world.
But the CIA had motive too. Mughniyeh was behind the 1983 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut, which took out the entire CIA station there as well as the visiting head of the agency's Middle East analysis branch.
William Buckley, who was sent to Beirut in 1983 to set up a new CIA station, was kidnapped in March 1984, likely supported by Iranian intelligence, and eventually murdered.
Mughniyeh also reportedly planned the 1984 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks and watched the attack unfold through binoculars from the top of a nearby building.
The writer is Director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Why the White House Is Getting Lonelier on Iran - Walter Russell Mead (American Interest)
- The longer the President and his top aides keep pretending that critics of his Iran policy have no concerns that are worth taking seriously, the more they feed the narrative that the White House is in over its head on Iran - that it has lost sight of some important considerations in a headlong drive to get a deal.
- The gravest danger to the balance of power in the Middle East today is Iran's push to consolidate its domination of the swath of territory from Iraq through Syria to Lebanon. Instead of coming down like a ton of bricks on Iran's regional ambitions, the administration appears to be edging toward embracing Iran as a useful partner against ISIS and its fellow travelers.
A nuclear deal that lifts the sanctions without addressing the question of Iran's regional ambitions would have the effect of greatly strengthening Iran's hand.
- Iran has consistently cast its quest for regional power as a movement of "Islamic Resistance" against the U.S. and its sidekick in Jerusalem. Iran and its allies have consistently taken the hardest possible line against both the U.S. and Israel.
It would seem that the larger Iran looms in the region, the more it will need the image of anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism to legitimate its position.
Why does it makes sense to think that a stronger Iran will choose alignment with the U.S. when its own political interests would benefit from a more anti-American posture?
- It is argued that moving to a less polarized relationship with Iran will accelerate a transition toward a more democratic and less theocratic regime within Iran.
Certainly a democratic revolution in Iran would be a welcome development. But Americans generally are bad at predicting when revolutions will take place in foreign countries, and we are worse at predicting the course those revolutions take once under way.
- Finally, there is the question of our current unhappy allies. In pursuit of a new understanding with Iran, the White House has put severe stress on our existing relationships with countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel. As a result, Iran has been able to watch America's regional position and alliance network weaken without lifting a finger or spending a dime. Under the circumstances, it looks to many as if the U.S. is dumping its old allies without securing a replacement.
- If the administration has a serious case for how its Iran policy will leave the U.S. with a stronger and more useful regional alliance network than it now has, that case has not been made. The bits and pieces of the strategy that we know about don't make sense, and the President and his team don't seem to understand how weak and vapid the case they make to the public really is.
The writer is Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College and Professor of American foreign policy at Yale University. He served as Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations until 2010.
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