Jordan Eyes Increased Involvement in War Against Islamic State - Aron Lund (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
In a recent interview with Fox News, King Abdullah II of Jordan declared that his country is at war with the "outlaws of Islam," a reference to the Islamic State.
"We stepped up big time. We are at the moment the only Arab country operating in Syria alongside the United States," he said, adding that Jordan is also "the only Arab country operating alongside the Iraqis in Iraq alongside the coalition forces.
On April 15, Bassam al-Badareen wrote in al-Quds al-Arabi that Jordan is about to launch a new security strategy labeled "Defense in Depth" that will include cross-border operations on Syrian and Iraqi territory.
Jordan's northern and eastern borders now exist only insofar as the Hashemite monarchy is able to police them. King Abdullah seems to want to sensitize Jordanians to the idea that no one else is going to keep their borders safe.
An increased role in orchestrating rebel and clan coalitions to firm up border security seems quite likely - and the hard end of that strategy could include hit-and-run raids against hostile forces.
Growing Number of Americans Believe Terrorists Are Winning (Rasmussen Reports)
39% of Americans surveyed in April believe the terrorists are winning the fight against the U.S., up from 33% in March and the highest level since 9/11.
Just 29% believe the U.S. and its allies are winning the War on Terror.
Only 34% believe the U.S. is safer today than it was before 9/11, while 86% believe that radical Islamic terrorism is a threat to the U.S.
Map: Iran's Nuclear Installations 2015 - Olli Heinonen and Simon Henderson (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Russian Troops Kill Leader of Islamic Caucasus Emirate - Bill Roggio and Thomas Joscelyn (Long War Journal)
Russian security forces killed Ali Abu Muhammad al Dagestani, the emir of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic Caucasus Emirate, during a special operations raid in the Russian Republic of Dagestan on Sunday.
The U.S. State Department listed Dagestani as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist just last month.
European-Funded NGOs Wage Political War on Israel (NGO Monitor)
A number of NGOs funded by European governments wage political war through false and demonizing campaigns exploiting the facade of human rights, including Zochrot, Adalah, Baladna, Combatants for Peace, and +972 Magazine.
Foreign governments that claim to promote democracy and peace should not be funding and enabling fringe groups that delegitimize Israel.
This report includes the names of foreign donors to each of these NGOs.
Israeli Economy Grew 7 Percent in Fourth Quarter of 2014 - Zeev Klein (Israel Hayom)
The Israeli economy grew 7% in the last quarter of 2014, the highest rate of growth in recent years, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported.
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- U.S. Energy Secretary: Inspectors Need Full Access in Iran Nuclear Deal - Jim Snyder and Indira Lakshmanan
Nuclear inspectors will need unfettered access in Iran as part of a deal to lift economic sanctions, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said Monday, a day after an Iranian general said military sites must be off limits. "We expect to have anywhere, anytime access," said Moniz, a nuclear physicist who participated in the talks.
Moniz also said he thought it would take Iran at least six months to meet the terms of a deal sufficient to warrant relief from the sanctions. "I would say six months or so, to me, looks to be about perhaps the minimum that will be required to execute all those steps," so that inspectors can verify Iran's compliance before sanctions relief is given. Iran has said it will insist on an immediate end to sanctions once a deal is approved.
See also Military Facilities Become Focus of Iran Deal - John Hudson
When the Iran nuclear agreement was announced, the State Department released a fact sheet saying Iran would allow UN inspectors access to any "suspicious sites." It also said Iran would grant the International Atomic Energy Agency broader access to declared and undeclared nuclear facilities.
- State Department: No Immediate Sanctions Relief for Iran
State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said Monday: "There is absolutely no change in our position regarding phased sanctions relief as part of a comprehensive deal. We have always said they will only receive sanctions relief after [Iran] verifiably completes all of its nuclear-related steps....They won't get relief until they take nuclear-related steps, and those cannot technically probably happen on day one." (State Department)
- Warning Iran, U.S. Sends Two More Ships to Yemen - Michael D. Shear and Matthew Rosenberg
The aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt and the guided missile cruiser Normandy were headed to the waters off Yemen on Monday to join 10 other American warships as a warning to Iran about its shipments of weapons to rebels there, American officials said. The flotilla could be used to interdict any supplies of Iranian arms to the Houthi rebels.
(New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- 23,320 Israeli Flags Being Placed on Graves of Fallen Soldiers
Military officials across the country are placing 23,320 flags on the graves of soldiers, police officers, and other security personnel who have fallen throughout the history of the State of Israel and the Zionist movement, as the state prepares to mark Memorial Day at sundown Tuesday. Memorial Day will end at sundown Wednesday with the start of Independence Day.
(Times of Israel)
See also Golani Brigade Commander: My Soldiers' Love for Their Country Is Amazing - Yoav Limor
This year's Memorial Day will honor the 67 IDF soldiers who fell during last summer's Gaza war, including 16 fighters from the Golani Brigade.
Brigade Commander Col. Rasan Alian, who was wounded in the war, explained that in conversations with soldiers, they said, "We saw the threat to the nation that exists and the rockets flying toward the heart of the country." So many soldiers said: "In all of [Israel's] wars, it was others who went. Now it's our turn. We'll do it." (Israel Hayom)
See also Stories from Those Who Survived Israel's Wars - Yair Rosenberg
Across the country, vigils will be held Tuesday night and Wednesday commemorating those lost in war and terrorist attacks. The majority of Israel's citizens serve in its army. Many have traumatic combat experiences from watching friends fall under fire. Here are three stories from those who survived Israel's wars, rather than perished in them. (Tablet)
See also An American Expat Reflects on Israel's Memorial and Independence Days - Jennifer Lang (Wall Street Journal)
- PA Ministers Visiting Gaza Placed Under House Arrest, Then Released - Khaled Abu Toameh
Ten PA ministers who arrived in Gaza earlier this week returned to the West Bank after Hamas placed them under house arrest in their hotel, preventing them from receiving or talking to anyone.
Hamas security forces also stopped dozens of Palestinians from approaching the hotel where the ministers were staying, witnesses said. (Jerusalem Post)
- The Case Against the Iran Deal - Max Fisher interviews Michael Doran
Doran: What makes the administration believe Iran has made a strategic shift away from a desire to have, if not a nuclear weapon, then a turnkey capability? I don't believe they have made a strategic shift, and I don't see why the administration believes they have. If the argument is that the very willingness of the Iranians to sit down and negotiate with us and to stick to the agreement over the last 18 months is proof of a strategic change of some kind, I don't buy it for a second. It's just proof to me that they want sanctions relief.
They have pursued this nuclear weapons program doggedly and at enormous cost to themselves. They have been willing to take their economy to the brink of disaster in order to preserve this program. They belong to a category of regimes, like the North Koreans, that calculates that if they can get this weapon, then the world will treat them differently.
They have a very well-known ideology that is hostile to the American order. They have a vision of Iran's place in the world, in the Islamic world especially, that they have not given up on.
The basic assumption of the Obama administration that Iran is a fundamentally defensive power is wrong. The Iranians want hegemony in the region. The goal of Iran's nuclear weapons program is not to defend against the U.S. or Israel - it's to advance its regional agenda. Michael Doran, who oversaw Middle East policy on the U.S. National Security Council from 2005 to 2007, is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute.
- Israel Alone - Bret Stephens
In recent conversations, senior Israeli officials can't understand what's become of U.S. foreign policy.
They fail to grasp how a president who pledged to work toward the abolition of nuclear weapons is pushing an accord with Tehran that guarantees their proliferation. They are astonished by the nonchalance with which the administration acquiesces in Iran's regional power plays.
That leaves Israel alone to deal as best as it can with a broadening array of threats: thousands more missiles for Hizbullah, paid for by sanctions relief for Tehran; ISIS on the Golan Heights; an Iran safe, thanks to Russian missiles, from any conceivable Israeli strike. Israel must seek its security with an America that, say what it will, has nobody's back but its own. (Wall Street Journal)
- Why Palestine Has No Chance at the International Criminal Court - Andrew Novak
Palestine's membership in the International Criminal Court was formalized on April 1, 2015. Israel has little to fear from the ICC. The threat is overblown.
First, the ICC may prosecute all parties to a conflict, and that includes Palestinian crimes. Allegations that Hamas fighters used human shields and fired unstable rockets at civilian areas, if proven, almost certainly constitute war crimes. By contrast, allegations against Israel are much more complex, and largely matters of proportion.
Second, the ICC Prosecutor has always been cautious. Investigations in Afghanistan and Colombia have dragged on for years. Third, the ICC cannot arrest suspects, gather evidence, or enforce its own judgments without at least some state cooperation. Any potential prosecutions are many years away, and that's only if the parties cooperate, which seems unlikely.
A Longstanding Nonproliferation Standard Is Dead - Matthew Kroenig (Weekly Standard)
- The U.S. has always opposed the spread of sensitive nuclear technologies to all states, including its own allies, because the risk of proliferation was simply too great, and it is a mistake to make an exception for Iran. The U.S. even played hardball with friends, forcing Taiwan and South Korea to shut down reprocessing programs in the 1970s and convincing France to cancel the sale of a reprocessing plant to Pakistan in 1978. The agreement with Libya in 2003 was a textbook example of successful nuclear diplomacy. But then, suddenly, the Obama administration abandoned this cornerstone of American foreign policy.
- In the interim agreement struck in November 2013, Washington granted Iran the right to enrich, and over the past 18 months it has engaged in the unprecedented act of bargaining over the scale - not the existence - of an aspiring proliferator's enrichment program. Moreover, the Iran deal sets a dangerous precedent.
- The U.S. is making this exception to its nonproliferation policy for a longstanding U.S. enemy, a leading state-sponsor of terrorism, a country that has violated its nonproliferation commitments in the past, and a country that at present stonewalls the International Atomic Energy Agency's questions about the military dimensions of its nuclear program.
- In the wake of the Iran deal, it will be difficult for Washington to explain that it trusts Tehran with sensitive nuclear technologies, but not other countries, including its allies and partners. Expect additional bids for enrichment and reprocessing programs as countries follow Iran's example and assemble the components of a nuclear weapons capability under the guise of "peaceful" nuclear power.
- The Obama administration claimed a zero-enrichment deal with Iran was impossible. Perhaps it was. But it would have been much better for Iran to enrich in the face of strong international condemnation than for its dangerous enrichment program to receive the solemn blessing of the international community.
- We abandoned a clear international standard we had established in order to meet Iran halfway in its unreasonable demands. What we have to show for it is not a historic deal, but the death of a 70-year-old bipartisan pillar of American foreign policy.
The writer is associate professor of government at Georgetown University and a senior fellow in the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.
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