March 7, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

IAEA Refuses Iran's Request to Close Investigation into Nuke Sites - Erez Linn (Israel Hayom)
    International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi does not intend to set "artificial deadlines" for the closure of an investigation into Iran's military nuclear program, Grossi said Saturday in Tehran.
    Iran and the IAEA agreed on a three-month plan to resolve the issue of uranium particles found at undeclared sites in the country, removing an obstacle to reviving the Iran nuclear deal.
    Iran has agreed to supply answers long sought by the IAEA. However, Grossi emphasized that his conclusion would not necessarily be positive.

Iran Has Used Advanced Air Defense Batteries Against Israel in Syria - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    Iran deployed advanced air defense batteries to Syria last year against Israeli planes carrying out operations in Syria.
    The Syrians have fired over a thousand missiles towards Israeli jets in the past seven years.

Israel Targets Weapons Warehouse of Iranian-Backed Militias near Damascus (Syrian Observatory For Human Rights-UK)
    Israeli missiles fired from the Golan Heights targeted weapons warehouses of Iran-backed militias near Damascus international airport on Monday.

Israeli F-35s Intercepted Iranian UAVs Last Year (Israel Air Force)
    In March 2021, IAF F-35I "Adir" fighter jets successfully intercepted two Iranian UAVs launched towards Israeli territory.
    The interception was carried out prior to the UAVs entering Israeli airspace, in coordination with neighboring countries.

90 Jewish Orphans from Ukraine Arrive in Israel (Times of Israel)
    A group of 90 Jewish orphans aged 2-12, who fled Ukraine after Russia invaded, arrived in Israel on Sunday, part of 300 Jews on a rescue flight.
    The children fled the city of Zhytomyr and with the help of local Chabad groups last week crossed the border to Romania and then flew to Israel.
    Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata said she expected tens of thousands of people to immigrate to Israel in the coming months.

Israel to Boost Humanitarian Aid to Ukraine - Amy Spiro (Times of Israel)
    The Israel Foreign Ministry announced Sunday the transfer of six giant electric generators to a hospital in Lviv, Ukraine.
    Foreign Ministry staff stationed at Ukraine border crossings will provide assistance to both Jewish and non-Jewish refugees, with a focus on providing winter gear.
    Israel will also establish and staff a field hospital in Ukraine.
    See also Israel Building Refugee Aid Centers on Ukraine's Border - Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post)
    See also Israeli Doctors Treat Ukrainian Refugees at New Border Clinic - Maayan Hoffman (JNS)

Mozambique Army Intercepts ISIS Drones Using Israeli Systems - Eyal Boguslavsky (Israel Defense)
    The Mozambican army reported that it has intercepted and neutralized 3 ISIS drone squads in the north of the country using tactical systems provided by Israel's MCTECH RF Technologies.
    The reactive systems carried by a soldier automatically detect the drone's presence at a range exceeding 2.5 km. and neutralize them before they become a real threat.

South Korea Tests New Fighting Vehicle Containing Israeli Systems - Danny Zaken (Globes)
    The South Korean army has begun performance trials of its new Korean-made Redback infantry fighting vehicle, which contains systems from Israeli defense electronics companies Elbit and Rafael.
    Israeli technologies include Elbit's turret with fire control systems, its IronVision mounted helmet, and the Iron Fist active protection system.
    Redback will also be equipped with Rafael's Spike anti-tank precision-guided missile.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Russia Recruiting Syrians for Urban Combat in Ukraine - Gordon Lubold
    Moscow is recruiting Syrians skilled in urban combat to fight in Ukraine, according to U.S. officials. Some are already in Russia preparing to enter the conflict. Syrian fighters have spent nearly a decade fighting urban warfare, while Russia's largely conscripted force lacks this skill set. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Ukrainian President Zelensky Survived Three Assassination Attempts, Helped by Anti-War Russian Security Officials - Manveen Rana
    Ukrainian President Zelensky survived at least three assassination attempts by mercenaries of the Kremlin-backed Wagner group and Chechen special forces. Both were thwarted by anti-war elements within Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB). Wagner mercenaries in Kyiv have sustained losses during their attempts and a source close to the group said Zelensky's security team appeared to be well-briefed.
        On Feb 26., Ukrainian security forces "eliminated" a cadre of Chechen assassins on the outskirts of Kyiv. Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, told Ukrainian TV that Russian spies had tipped them off about the planned assassination. (The Times-UK)
  • Jewish Life in Ukraine Is No Longer What It Was - Yonat Shimron
    For many Jews, Ukraine evokes memories of pogroms, anti-Semitism and Nazi collaboration. Between 1.2 million and 1.6 million Jews were killed in Ukraine during the Holocaust. But Jewish life in Ukraine is no longer what it was - neither under the Nazis nor the Soviet Union. In 2019 Ukraine elected a Jewish president, Volodymyr Zelensky, by a landslide 73%.
        "Today's generation is certainly not anti-Semitic like it was in the Soviet Union," said Andrej Umansky, a postdoctoral fellow at Georgetown University's Center for Jewish Civilization who grew up in Kyiv. In fact, "We know so much more about what happened in Ukraine to the Jews, thanks to Ukrainian scholars," many of whom are not Jewish. A 2017 Pew Research study found that Ukraine was the most accepting of Jews among all Central and Eastern European countries. Only 5% of Ukrainians said they would not accept Jews as fellow citizens. In Russia it was 14%, in Poland 18% and in Romania 22%. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Prime Minister Meets Putin in Moscow to Discuss Ukraine Ceasefire - Itamar Eichner
    Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett flew to Moscow on Saturday, where he met Russian President Vladimir Putin for three hours. The trip was made "in coordination and with the blessing" of the Biden administration as well as Kyiv, according to Bennett's office. Bennett spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky after his meeting with Putin, then flew to Germany to meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
        In a phone call on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to have asked Israel to mediate between Kyiv and Moscow. The need for a ceasefire is said to have been the primary topic of discussion in Moscow. Putin reiterated Russia's demand that Israel refrain from providing any weapons to Ukraine. Israel's concern for the safety of Ukraine's Jewish communities was also addressed. Bennett asked for humanitarian corridors to be established, which would enable civilians to safely flee the war.
        Bennett also raised the matter of Iranian forces in Syria and Israel's continued need for the freedom to operate militarily in Syria. The leaders also discussed the Vienna talks on the return to the Iranian nuclear deal and Israel's opposition to the pending agreement. (Ynet News)
  • Russian Strikes Destroy Centers of Jewish Life in Ukraine - Sam Sokol
    Artillery and missile strikes destroyed or damaged multiple Jewish sites across the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. Russian bombardments struck the local Hillel House and the Or Avner day school, while a near miss came close to destroying the city's Chabad synagogue. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israelis Travel to Ukraine to Fight the Russian Invasion - Ksenia Svetlova
    Dozens of Israelis of Ukrainian origin are leaving behind families, work, and safety to take up arms against the Russian invasion. Together with Ukrainian foreign workers who dropped their contracts and left to fight, they cross the Polish border and head to the frontline, willing to risk death for the freedom of Ukraine.
        Sergei Novitzky, 38, was born in Kyiv. He immigrated to Israel with his family 24 years ago and served in an IDF combat unit. "I love Israel with all my heart, and when I need to, I take up arms to defend my country. Now Ukraine is in need; they need help. I decided to help," he says. There are also native-born Israelis without Ukrainian roots who are ready to leave for the frontlines.
        Inna Rabinovich, who was born in Odesa and lives in Haifa, says that Russian-born and Ukrainian-born Israelis are on the same side. "Today the whole world understands who the aggressor is and who the victim is," she says. (Medialine)
        See also Some in Israel Join Ukraine's Defense - Dina Kraft (Christian Science Monitor)
        See also Russia Warns Pro-Ukraine Foreign Fighters Won't Get POW Status, Will Be Criminals - Michael Starr (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Stabs Israeli Police Officers in Jerusalem - Emanuel Fabian
    Two Israeli policemen were wounded in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem's Old City early Sunday, before the Palestinian assailant was shot dead, officials said. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Killed while Throwing Firebombs at Army Post near Jerusalem
    Yaman Jaffal, 16, was killed by IDF soldiers after throwing firebombs at a military post in Abu Dis near Jerusalem on Sunday. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Saudi Crown Prince: We Look at Israel "as a Potential Ally" - Interview with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
    "I would not use the term 'moderate Islam'" which suggests "that we in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries are changing Islam into something new, which is not true. We are going back to the real teachings of Islam, the way that the Prophet and the four Rightly Guided caliphs lived, which was open and peaceful societies. They had Christians and Jews living under their rule. They taught us to respect all cultures, all religions, regardless....What happened was that the extremists hijacked and changed our religion into something new for their own interests."
        Q: Do you think that Saudi Arabia might follow some of these other Arab nations in having an open relationship, diplomatic relations with Israel?
        "We don't look at Israel as an enemy, we look to them as a potential ally, with many interests that we can pursue together. But we have to solve some issues before we get to that."  (Atlantic-Al Arabiya)
  • The Saudi Crown Prince's Messages to Israel and Iran - Yoni Ben Menachem
    The normalization process between Israel and Arab states was not interrupted by the change of government in the U.S. The Biden administration and Israel keep working behind the scenes to promote additional Arab and Muslim states joining the process, particularly Saudi Arabia. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) is taking a less rigid public stance toward Israel than his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, publicly referring to Israel as a "possible ally." At the same time, he also spoke about Iran in a different tone, calling the Iranians "neighbors."
        While President Biden continues to boycott the Saudi crown prince, whom he holds responsible for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, bin Salman continues to deny that he ordered Khashoggi's murder. In any case, Israel views MBS as a friend and an ally against the Iranian danger. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Putin's Russia Is Behind Neo-Nazism Today - Melanie Phillips
    It's true that many Ukrainian nationalists initially welcomed the German invaders as liberators during World War Two and collaborated with the occupation. Ukrainian anti-Semites were considered particularly savage. But Ukraine suffered more than Russia from Nazism, with more of its population being killed during the war than any other country.
        It is Putin himself who has unleashed neo-Nazism on Ukraine using the Wagner Group. This is a private army of mercenaries financed by pro-Kremlin oligarchs. It's led by Dmitry Utkin, a former Russian military intelligence officer sporting Waffen-SS tattoos who allegedly named his outfit after Hitler's favorite composer. As Oved Lobel writes for the Australia/Israel Jewish Affairs Council, almost every major nationalist and racist, violent extremist group in the world today got its start from the neo-Nazi Iron March forum, started by Alisher Mukhitdinov in Russia in 2011.
        The writer is a columnist for The Times-UK. (JNS)
  • The West's Selective Morality in the Face of the Iranian Threat - Ben-Dror Yemini
    For too many years, the West has been prostrating in front of Iran, the most murderous actor in the Middle East, despite its actions and proxies having killed hundreds of thousands and displacing millions from Yemen to Syria. Iran is the cause of Lebanon's collapse through its Hizbullah proxy. Pro-Iranian militias are making every effort to expand the destruction to Iraq. Iran has publicly announced its goal to destroy Israel time and again. Now the West intends to sign a new nuclear deal with Tehran that will restore its economic might, which will, in turn, augment its destructive power.
        The West is rightly concerned about Russia, but how come it closes its eyes in the face of the Iranian threat? Where is the morality here exactly? The only ones having a moral lapse are those seeking to sabotage the war on Iran's murderous machinations. (Ynet News)

  • The shocking and horrifying scenes from Ukraine that we witness on our television screens should be foremost in the minds of Western leaders as they blindly embrace a new nuclear deal with Tehran.
  • Like Putin's Russia, the Islamic Republic is a non-status-quo power whose actions are driven more than anything else by ideology. The ayatollahs' Iran aspires to reassert Shiite predominance over the Sunni world, much like Putin's Russia seeks to resuscitate the czarist empire.
  • Washington's Iran policy remains focused on the misguided belief - which the Biden administration shares with its Democratic predecessors - that well-placed safeguards (which the JCPOA is lacking in any case) in exchange for economic dividends will not only constrain Iran's nuclear quest but also potentially change Iran's behavior.
  • Yet what ultimately motivates Tehran is not rational calculations of national self-interest, but a burning desire to spread its revolutionary ideology and undermine and destroy the Western rules-based international liberal order.
  • The desire to push this agenda more aggressively and more successfully is what drives its quest for nuclear weapons. 43 years after the establishment of the Islamic Republic, Tehran continues to invest considerable resources, even under extreme economic duress, to export its revolution to every corner of the globe.
  • It is entirely reasonable to assume that Iran is seeking the protection that nuclear weapons clearly provide Russia to impose its will on its neighborhood - and to do so with impunity. Emboldened by its nuclear breakout, Iran's revolutionary leadership will seek to cement partnerships and dependencies and establish its dominance far beyond the Middle East.
  • Tehran makes no secret of its aspiration to become the node for all anti-Western movements. Tomorrow's nuclear Iran will back a network of radical, violent groups that will rush to Tehran in search of a powerful patron.

    The writer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Strategic Intelligentia - Gulf Futures Forum
Future Political Risks in the Gulf

March 9, 2022, 6 p.m. (GMT)

    Join a unique set of policymakers, military representatives, and security experts including Olli Heinonen, Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, Norman Roule, Dr. Ebtesam Al Ketbi, Dr. Ali Al Nuaimi, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, Amb. Dennis Ross, Elliott Abrams and Mark Dubowitz.

        View the agenda. Prior registration is necessary.

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