June 26, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Tehran Gears Up to Enrich Uranium Closer to Weapons-Grade Levels - Jon Gambrell (AP)
    By Thursday, Iran says it will have over 300 kg. (660 pounds) of low-enriched uranium in its possession, which would mean it had broken out of the atomic accord.
    Iran says it will begin enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels if European countries don't offer Iran a better deal and relief from U.S. sanctions by July 7.
    Once Iran starts going beyond the terms of the nuclear deal, the time it needs to have enough material for an atomic bomb starts dropping.

Global Watchdog Gives Iran until October to Tighten Anti-Money Laundering Rules (Reuters)
    Iran has until October to meet international standards against money-laundering and terror financing or face more international scrutiny, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) said on Friday, and called on countries to keep closer tabs on Iranian banks.
    See also FATF Should Continue Re-Imposition of Countermeasures on Iran - Toby Dershowitz and Serena Frechter (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)

Netanyahu: Israel Used Cyber Intelligence to Thwart 50 ISIS Terror Attacks - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed Wednesday that Israeli cyber tools provided the intelligence to thwart an ISIS plot to bomb a flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi.
    He said, "multiply by about 50" the Sydney airline terror plot, and that would be the number of terror plots worldwide (mostly by ISIS) which Israel has helped to prevent thanks to its cyber intelligence powers.

IDF Drills for War with Hizbullah - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    The Israel Defense Forces last week conducted a 5-day exercise simulating war against Hizbullah.
    "The exercise trained the troops for combat involving multiple branches of the military in an urban battlefield, against an enemy that disappears, who is dug into underground [infrastructure] and is equipped with advanced weaponry," the army said.
    In addition to offensive maneuvers, the military also simulated "large-scale rocket fire" that air defense units "would have to spot and intercept."
    Israeli and Western intelligence officials last week warned that Hizbullah, acting on behalf of Iran, might seek to attack Israel as part of Iran's struggle with U.S. economic sanctions.

Israel Showcases Cutting-Edge Military Technology at Paris Air Show - Yaakov Lappin (JNS)
    Eight Israeli firms displayed advanced drones, anti-drone technology, missile systems, radars, and bomb guidance kits with artificial intelligence features at the International Paris Air Show last week.
    Other areas of interest were cyber-defense solutions, border defense systems, air defenses, and solutions for securing strategic facilities against a range of attacks.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • In Bahrain, U.S. Tries to Promote Mideast Peace through Prosperity - David M. Halbfinger
    Business executives, billionaire investors and Middle East diplomats gathered in Bahrain on Tuesday for a White House-led, two-day "Peace to Prosperity Workshop." "One who is more hopeful, and sees opportunity for his or her family, will put energy into pursuing opportunity, instead of blaming others for their current misfortune," said Jared Kushner, leader of the U.S. Middle East peace initiative. Alluding to Palestinian leaders' mockery of the Trump peace plan as the "deal of the century," Kushner said his economic proposal would be "the opportunity of the century, if the leadership has the courage to pursue it."
        The fact that the conference was getting underway raised hopes for increased cooperation between Israel and its Arab neighbors. "It's been going on for years under the table, but the table seems to be levitating, because it's very crowded under there," said David Makovsky, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who was involved in the Obama administration's effort to broker peace in 2013 and 2014. (New York Times)
        See also Kushner in Bahrain: Deal on Economic Pathway Vital for Middle East Peace
    Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner said on Tuesday in Bahrain that agreement on an economic way forward was a necessary precondition for Israeli-Palestinian peace. "What we have developed is the most comprehensive economic plan ever created specifically for the Palestinians and the broader Middle East," he said.
        "My direct message to the Palestinian people is that, despite what those who have let you down in the past say, President Trump and America have not given up on you. This workshop is for you." He said economic growth and prosperity for the Palestinians were not possible without an "enduring and fair political solution" to the conflict - one that guaranteed Israel's security and respected the dignity of the Palestinian people. (Reuters-NBC News)
        See also Video: Jared Kushner Makes Case for Investment to Transform Middle East (YouTube)
  • Iranians Say Economic Problems Are Self-Inflicted - Nasser Karimi and Mohammad Nasiri
    Many Iranians blame their own government for the economic pressure they face. Inflation is over 37%, while 12% of working-age citizens are unemployed. A simple cell phone costs two months' salary for the average government worker. Hossein Rostami, 33, a taxi driver, told AP: "The cause of our problems is the officials' incompetence. Our country is full of wealth and riches."
        "Our problem is the embezzlers and thieves in the government," said Nasrollah Pazouki, who sells clothes in Tehran's Grand Bazaar. "When people come to power, instead of working sincerely and seriously for the people, we hear and read after a few months in newspapers that they have stolen billions and fled." Jafar Mousavi, who runs a dry-goods store in Tehran, said many of the woes are self-inflicted from rampant graft. "The economic war is not from outside of our borders but within the country."  (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • In Trilateral Jerusalem Security Talks, Russia Sides with Iran Against Israel and U.S. - Judah Ari Gross
    Russia's top national security adviser, Nikolai Patrushev, spoke out on behalf of Iran during trilateral meetings with Israel and the U.S. in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Patrushev rejected the view held by the U.S. and Israel that Iran represents "the main threat to regional security" and said Israeli airstrikes in Syria against Iranian forces and its proxies were "undesirable." Iran "was and remains our ally and partner," he stressed.
        Patrushev also said the Russian Defense Ministry had determined that the U.S. drone downed by Iran last week had entered Iranian airspace, as Tehran claims. Moreover, he lauded Iran's ongoing presence in Syria. (Times of Israel)
  • Gaza Arson Balloons Cause 10 Fires in Israel on Tuesday
    Ten fires flared in Gaza border communities on Tuesday due to incendiary balloons coming in from Gaza, Walla reported. (Jerusalem Post)
  • At Economic Peace Summit, Being an Israeli in Bahrain Feels Almost Normal - Raphael Ahren
    Israeli members of the press, the business community and civil society who have made their way to Bahrain are being treated like VIPs. If formal normalization remains elusive, Israeli-Bahraini ties, on a personal level, have almost looked normal. Everyone we've met, from the proverbial cab driver to the vendor at the Manama souk, has been most friendly. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Palestinians "Not Willing to Give Up Their Misery," Israeli Historian Says
    The Palestinian leadership should sign on to the U.S. economic development plan and worry about their political status later, Hebrew University of Jerusalem historian Gadi Taub told France 24. Palestinians are wrong to reject the $50 billion U.S. blueprint to rebuild the Palestinian economy. "This is five times more than what it took to reconstruct Japan after World War II," he said. "If they stop sinking money into terror tunnels and corruption, they can have Singapore in Gaza."
        "I think the one asset the Palestinians are not willing to give up is their misery. They have a leadership that is keeping them at a state of perpetual victimhood....If it was Zionism, we would have taken the money, built stuff with it, and then tried to move on to other goals, not give it up in advance."  (France 24)
  • How Does Turning Down a $50 Billion Economic Plan Help the Palestinians? - Alan Dershowitz
    If Palestinian leaders were to sit down and negotiate about the proposed U.S. peace plan, they could quickly improve the quality of life of their people. But as Israeli diplomat Abba Eban once quipped, the Palestinian leadership "never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity." Palestinian leaders seem to care less about helping their people and more about hurting Israel. They seem to want their own state less than they want there not to be a neighboring nation-state of the Jewish people.
        Well, they are not going to accomplish that goal. Palestinians must come to recognize the reality that Israel is here to stay, whether they like it or not. The remaining question is whether there will ever be a viable Palestinian state living in peace with Israel. That is largely up to Palestinians. The writer is Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School. (The Hill)
  • The Peace and Prosperity Program: The White House's "This Is What You Will Be Throwing Away" Letter to the Palestinians - David Horovitz
    The U.S. Peace to Prosperity program is, in theory, hugely beneficial for the Palestinians, promoting an end to victimhood and a route to empowerment. It sets out a framework for a revolutionary improvement in the daily lives of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. It also indicates empathy with Palestinian national aspirations.
        In fact, while not endorsing independent Palestinian statehood, neither does the plan negate it. Indeed, its authors have made clear that a mutually acceptable political resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a precondition for this vision of economic revolution. (Times of Israel)

What Iran Is Really Up To - Michael Doran (Mosaic)
  • Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei intends to raise the specter of war and simultaneously offer a cooperative way to exorcise it, namely, by returning America to the Iran deal (JCPOA).
  • Thanks to the nuclear archive that an Israeli operation spirited out of Iran last year, the U.S. has enough information to argue persuasively that Iran has, in fact, grossly violated the JCPOA. The archive reveals, among other things, that Iran never abandoned its nuclear-weapons program but simply restructured it, emphasizing dual-use activities that have allowed Tehran to claim with a modicum of plausibility that its nuclear activities are "peaceful" and "civilian."
  • The JCPOA helped advance this deception by bestowing international legitimacy on facilities like the Fordow bunker. Built under a mountain, Fordow never had any purpose other than to produce weapons-grade uranium.
  • The great conceit of the previous U.S. approach to Iran was to believe that there existed a clever diplomatic way to stop it from getting a nuclear bomb. There is not.
  • Iran's nuclear-weapons program will come to an end only if the U.S. wrests it from the talons of the regime. This need not mean war, but it will require a prolonged coercive strategy.
  • The great paradox is that the more successfully the U.S. transmits a readiness for war, the less likely war will become.

    The writer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and a former senior director of the National Security Council.