Biden Will Confront a New Middle East

(New York Times) Thomas L. Friedman - On Sept. 14, 2019, the Iranian Air Force launched 20 drones and precision-guided cruise missiles at Abqaiq, one of Saudi Arabia's most important oil fields and processing centers, causing huge damage. Israeli military analysts called the Iranian precision missile strike the Middle East's "Pearl Harbor." President Trump did not launch a retaliatory strike on behalf of Saudi Arabia. The shift in the American posture gave birth to the peace agreements between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain - and a whole new level of secret security cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia. In effect, Trump forced Israel and the key Sunni Arab states to become less reliant on the U.S. and to think about how they must cooperate among themselves over new threats - like Iran - rather than fighting over old causes - like Palestine. In the wake of the Abqaiq attack, some Israeli military experts say Iran's new preferred weapons are the precision-guided missiles that it used on Saudi Arabia. In the 2006 war in Lebanon, Iran's proxy Hizbullah fired 20 unguided rockets in the hope of damaging a single Israeli target. With precision-guided missiles manufactured in Iran, Hizbullah - in theory - just needs to fire one rocket each at 20 different targets in Israel with a high probability of damaging each one. That is why Israel has been fighting a shadow war with Iran for the past five years to prevent Tehran from encircling Israel with proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Gaza, all armed with precision-guided missiles. That is why Israel and its Gulf Arab allies are not going to want to see the U.S. give up its leverage on Iran to curb its nuclear program before it also uses that leverage to secure some commitment to end Iran's export of these missiles.

2020-11-30 00:00:00

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