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One month ago, the nuclear deal with Iran was implemented, and relief from sanctions for the regime in Tehran kicked in.
Since the implementation of the deal, news reports have focused on a long list of business deals Iran closed with Russia, Europe and other countries. Sunday, Iran shipped its first oil delivery to Europe in five years. Tuesday, news broke that the stock market in Tehran has jumped 25 percent in the past 30 days.
Needless to say, business is booming in Iran.
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Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who is currently visiting Israel, defended the nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic and said Iran’s compliance with the agreement was “strong” so far.
“What this deal does if implemented — and so far the implementation has been strong but it’s very early days — is it cuts off the pathways to a nuclear weapon and it gives us much more visibility into Iran’s program than we had before,” Power told a skeptical audience in Israel.
“Iran, of course, is still a threat. Iran is supporting terrorism. Iran is supporting parties to conflict like the Assad regime (in Syria),” she admitted later.
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Power omitted the fact the Obama regime effectively gave Iran a free pass for the second time in a year when it closed a deal with Russia that should have ended the battle against the Assad regime by the Syrian opposition. The deal was blown up shortly after its announcement when the Russian/Iranian led pro-Assad coalition began to encircle Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, and cut off a major supply route to the rebels in the city.
The Russian-Iranian cooperation and the recent successes of the pro-Assad coalition on the battlefield in Syria are seen by Israel and the Arab states as the next biggest threat to their security.
This short-term effect of the implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran has been predicted by Omri Ceren, managing director of The Israel Project.
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Ceren has followed the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 countries from the beginning and was in Geneva last year when the deal was announced. He told Western Journalism the lifting of the sanctions would “strengthen Iran’s worst elements,” such as the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps that has dispatched its Al-Quds brigades to Syria.
“Domestically the sanctions windfall will strengthen Iran’s worst elements, and more specifically will boost the IRGC’s standing,” Ceren told Western Journalism. “The Iranian economy is structured such that it’s almost impossible to do substantial work without touching IRGC-controlled entities, and significant capital will flow directly into sectors disproportionately controlled by the IRGC.
“Beyond Iran’s borders, the windfall will go to terrorists and proxies that just months ago were straining to meet their battlefield commitments, and will soon find themselves flush with cash. The result will be a prolonged extension of the sectarian warfare that has been tearing the region apart, something that’s become undeniable in Syria and Iraq. And of course, there is a direct danger to Israel, which may soon find a cash-flush IRGC on its border.”
Ceren added that the nuclear deal with Iran “endangers Israeli security in multi-dimensional” ways.
“The long covert campaign that Israel has waged against Iranian nuclear progress will either have to be severely curtailed or eliminated,” Ceren said. “The Iranian nuclear program, after all, is now under international sponsorship, and P5+1 is committed to helping Iran make nuclear progress. The military option is certainly off the table for the time being, and even Israel’s efforts to defend itself against Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies has been damaged. Not only are those proxies now stronger and more emboldened, but Israel also has to tread carefully lest it is accused of trying to spoil the West’s new-found entente with Iran.”
Ceren’s assessment about the consequences of the deal for Israel is shared by Yossi Cohen, the new chief of Israel’s Secret Service — the Mossad — who last month warned the agreement with Iran has “significantly increased” the threat to Israel posed by the Islamic Republic.
“Israel is at the epicenter of the storm gripping the Middle East in recent years. Fanatical Islamic extremism is rolling across countries, and causing their collapse. Iran continues to call for Israel’s destruction while intensifying its military capabilities and strengthening its grip on the region. It employs terror cells as a means to achieve these goals,” Cohen said during his maiden speech in Tel Aviv.
Another expert who shares Ceren’s view about the increased dangers for Israel since the implementation of the nuclear deal is former White House official Michael Doran. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Doran said when the pro-Assad coalition wins the war in Syria, Israel could find itself in a position that it would be difficult to defend itself.
“Israel could end up with Iranian forces and rockets on its border with Syria and there is not much Israel can do about it,” Doran said.
One of the things Israel has quietly done to counter the increasing Iranian threat to the country is seeking security cooperation with Arab regimes.
Wall Street Journal editor Breth Stephens wrote this week that Israel apparently has forged security ties with several regimes in the Middle East.
“On Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon publicly shook hands with former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal at the Munich Security Conference,” Stephens wrote. “In January, Israeli cabinet member Yuval Steinitz made a trip to Abu Dhabi, where Israel is opening an office at a renewable-energy association. Turkey is patching up ties with Israel. In June, Jerusalem and Riyadh went public with the strategic talks between them. In March, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi told the Washington Post that he speaks to Mr. Netanyahu ‘a lot.’”
Stephens reported Israel is also diversifying its strategic partnerships in reaction to the increased Iranian threat and the Middle East policies of the Obama administration.
“In October, Israel hosted Indian President Pranab Mukherjee for a three-day state visit. New Delhi, once a paragon of the nonaligned movement that didn’t have diplomatic ties with Israel for four decades, is about to spend $3 billion on Israeli arms. Japanese Prime MinisterShinzo Abe, who is personally close to Mr. Netanyahu, sees Israel as a model for economic reinvention. Chinese investment in Israel hit $2.7 billion last year, up from $70 million in 2010. In 2014, Israel’s exports to the Far East for the first time exceeded those to the U.S.”
As for the Arab countries that feel threatened by the increased Iranian threat after the implementation of the agreement, most of them are now seeking nuclear weapons, Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya’alon said Sunday.
“We see signs that countries in the Arab world are preparing to acquire nuclear weapons, that they are not willing to sit quietly with Iran on the brink of a nuclear or atomic bomb,” Ya’alon told an international security conference in Munich, without elaborating.
Another development that shows the Arab countries are very worried about the increasing Iranian threat is the investment of billions of dollars in the upgrade of their missile defenses. A large part of the $113 billion the Gulf countries spent on defense last year went to missile defenses, the British newspaper Telegraph reported, citing John Chipman, the director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).
All of this proves Israel and a large part of the Arab world have lost their faith in the United States as the dominant regional power.
Ceren thinks it’s far from certain the next U.S. president’s administration will be able to win back the confidence of its long-time allies in the Middle East by tearing up the nuclear agreement with Iran.
“All the serious candidates have committed to a range of options that are much more aggressive than the current administration, from holding Iran’s feet to the fire on its nonconventional mischief — something that the current administration has been almost wholly loathing to do — to tearing up the agreement. However, none of the candidates have provided a full sketch of how they’d treat the subsequent environment, but the coming months will certainly clarify things.” Ceren told Western Journalism.