New at the BESA Center
Vice Admiral James G. Foggo, III, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral and 6th Fleet deputy commander, joins the BESA Center for lunch (Sunday, January 4, 2015)
International Conference at the BESA Center. Monday, December 8 and Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Watch the lectures (in Hebrew) of last week’s conference at the BESA Center
The main challenge facing the government of Alexis Tsipras is finding an economic compromise with the EU in a manner which will satisfy the Greek public. If Tsipras succeeds, he’ll be free to consider other foreign policy issues. Then, Israel may have room for concern.
The passing of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and the smooth accession of King Salman marks the return of the Sudaryi family to leadership and the eventual rise of the grandchildren of founder King Abd al-Aziz
In 2015, Israel’s military must be prepared for both ground warfare against Islamist extremists and an operation in Iran.
Turkey is formally a NATO ally. But Erdogan-led Turkey has not behaved as an ally or a friend of the US for years. It is a mystery why the Obama Administration refuses to acknowledge this.
Putin is recreating a Russian national identity for a disoriented and traumatized Russian people.
Unlike many previous chiefs-of-staff for Israel’s Defense Forces (IDF), whose appointments were shadowed by controversies, the nomination this past week of Maj. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot as the 21st commander of the IDF has been widely welcomed.
As the West’s nuclear negotiations with Iran heads toward additional extensions, it is likely that future negotiations will focus on the concessions Iran seeks to secure.
Watch Prof. Efraim Inbar deliver a speech on the shifting power dynamics in the Eastern Mediterranean at the Hudson Institute, Washington DC
Since gaining independence in 1991, Azerbaijan has emerged as one of Israel’s closest friends in the Muslim world. Israeli-Azerbaijani ties have expanded to include oil and weapon supplies, as well as cooperation in information technology, medicine, water purification and agriculture.
The overall failure of the Agreement Framework to halt North Korea’s nuclear program offers an important lesson in analyzing the potential effectiveness of a new nuclear agreement with Iran.
If a “permanent agreement” with Iran fails to guarantee the bare minimum safeguards against Iran’s nuclearization that Israel feels is necessary, the relationship between the U.S. and Israel will truly be put to the test.
The novelty of the Islamic State, as well as the magnitude of the threat it poses, are greatly exaggerated. Iran remains the main threat to stability in the Middle East.
An agreement that would allow Iran to maintain a full nuclear fuel cycle would be far worse than no agreement, and could force Israel to respond independently
The interim accord reached in Geneva regarding Iran’s nuclear program is a bad deal that enshrines Iran’s status as a nuclear threshold state and paves Tehran’s path towards a nuclear bomb.
An Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure is a risky and militarily-complicated endeavor, but within reach. Israeli ingenuity and determination could lead to a great operational and political success.
France’s bold move to hold up a nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran reflects its broader policy and genuine concern about a nuclear Iran.
Syrian Civil War
June 30 marks the due date for the complete disarmament of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. Although Assad may have relinquished the majority of his chemical weapons stockpile, the regime most probably possesses additional ‘undeclared’ facilities.
Disarming Syria’s chemical arsenal will be a big challenge. The US-Russia timetable seems too condensed, even if good will is assumed. Syria possesses a huge chemical weapons arsenal, and is likely to further develop biological weapons, which the US-Russia accord does not discuss.
France has changed its view that conflicts can be resolved only through diplomacy, which explains the country’s recent military activism in Libya, Mali, and perhaps soon in Syria, as well.
In this roundtable discussion, ten experts at the BESA Center the implications for Israel and the West of the civil war raging in Syria, just across Israel’s northern border. The bottom line: Israel should stay out of the conflict but prepare for continued instability as Syria breaks up.
Efforts to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons are running months behind schedule. Even if Assad abides by his commitment, Syria’s equally dangerous biological weapon stocks will remain.
The “Palestinian cause” has been at the forefront of discourse on the Middle East for nearly a century. It has long formed the primary common concern of pan-Arab solidarity and its most effective rallying cry, yet neither the Arab states nor Palestinian leaders have truly acted in the interest of the “liberation of Palestine.”
The rules of the game between Israel and Hamas will be decided by Israel’s response to the first instance of rocket fire.
During Operation Protective Edge, Hamas was clearly defeated, but was not destroyed.
Observing “Operation Protective Edge” against Hamas in Gaza lead to the conclusion that a revision of Israel’s conceptual strategic compass is needed, particularly regarding the concepts of ‘deterrence’ and ‘decisive victory’.
Since the launch of Operation Protective Edge, Israel has made a series of wise tactical choices that contribute to the diplomatic and military effort.
Qatar has become the leading backer of Hamas terrorism, and the country’s wings need to be clipped.
Western media coverage of Operation Protective Edge has been marred by deep anti-Israel bias and serious failures, both professional and ethical.
The developing international consensus to offer Gaza economic aid in exchange for a ceasefire is a moral and strategic mistake.
The IDF must develop the technology and the tactical skills to locate, map and destroy Gaza’s tunnels.
New Paradigms in Peace Diplomacy
Within the currently-defined, narrow confines of the conventional two-state parameters, no Israeli-Palestinian agreement is likely. Regional alternatives that widen the scope of actors taking responsibility for a settlement can creatively help break the impasse.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the Land of Israel has evolved over the past hundred years. Nowadays, most attempts to solve this conflict revolve around the two-state paradigm. However, a solution based on this paradigm is unlikely to emerge in the near future.
The Palestinians refuse to accept Israel as a Jewish state and are reluctant to drop their armed and ideological opposition to Israel’s existence. The global community can oppose Palestinian denial of Israel’s connection to the land; support Israel’s legitimacy; resettle Palestinian refugees outside of Israel; modify aid programs to reduce Palestinian use of foreign money to support terror; and encourage free speech in Palestinian society.
The Obama administration seems not to understand the current power configuration in the Middle-East and the dangers of the growing Islamist movement.
Last week’s failed ceasefire proposal by John Kerry highlights the clash between the Obama administration’s approach to the Middle East, and the strategy preferred by Israel and other American allies in the region.
John Kerry warned of a return to Palestinian violence and Israel’s isolation should peace talks fail, yet another reflection of the Obama administration’s inability to properly understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
John Kerry has abandoned America’s honest broker stance in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, laying out the consequences for Israel of disobeying America, but doing no such thing for the Palestinians if they remain intransigent.
Israel and the US must improve their lines of communication. The US also ought to consider equipping Israel with enhanced military resources that would allow Israel to confront Iran at a later date – giving the West more time to pressure the Iranian regime.
The Turkish Prime Minister is facing unprecedented political pressure that might precipitate the end of his rule.
Tensions between Ankara and Jerusalem have escalated since Turkey harshly criticized Israel following its invasion of the Gaza Strip in December 2008 (Operation Cast Lead). This is due to a reorientation in Turkish foreign policy, characterized by moving away from the West and by a desire for better relations with Muslim states.
Syria and Iraq have become battlefields on influence between Turkey and Iran. In Syria, a proxy war is underway, with Iran supplying weapons to its Alawite client and Turkey actively arming the opposition. In Iraq, Turkey and Iran vie for political influence along Sunni-Shiite fault lines.
Turkish demands are unreasonable and an apology will not change the anti-Israeli policy of an increasingly authoritarian and Islamist Turkey. Israel’s reluctance to criticize Erdogan’s government is construed as weakness and Jerusalem should take off its gloves in dealing with Ankara.
The Future of Egypt
Egypt’s new rulers are faced with a terror problem emanating from the Sinai, led by radical jihad groups. The US and international community must support the Egyptian regime to prevent Egypt from turning into the next Syria.
The latest chapter in the Egyptian Revolution is nothing more than a return to the military dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Egypt’s troubles may only be beginning.
Hopes or expectations that the Egyptian military will intervene in the deteriorating political and security crisis are probably misguided.
Morsi’s hosting Ahmadinejad signals a potential improvement in ties between Egypt and Iran. This move will backfire, as ultimately Morsi needs the US and Gulf countries more than they need him.
The Brotherhood sees Israel as a strategic threat and has aggressively lobbied Morsi to strengthen Egyptian military presence in Sinai. The anti-Israel rhetoric emanating from senior Brotherhood leaders must be taken seriously.
Arab Spring-Islamist Winter
In this new book, eight experts from the BESA Center and other institutes evaluate the Arab earthquakes rocking the Middle East. They consider their implications of the regional volatility for Israel and its chances to live peacefully in the region, as well as the implications for regional and global security.
Dramatic events have unfolded in the Middle East since the beginning of 2011. This unstable environment indicates trouble for Israel. What follows is an assessment of the implications of the changing regional environment for Israel’s national security.
“Nakba Day” confrontations along Israel’s borders reflect new regional realities and a long-term weakening of Israel’s deterrence posture.
When the first Qassam rocket landed in the town of Sderot in October 2001, few observers, if any, perceived it as the harbinger of a protracted and increasingly furious campaign by the radical Palestinian groups in Gaza against Israel’s population centers adjacent to the Gaza Strip (the so called “Gaza envelope” communities) by ballistic weapons.
Praise for Iron Dome may be deserved, yet Israel’s deterrence capability has not been enhanced, and Israel’s enemies may initiate an arms race to try and defeat it.
The operation also proved Israel’s determination to act forcefully in the post “Arab Spring” environment. However, the lack of a ground offensive allowed Hamas to craft a victory narrative and gave it the potential to re-arm.
If the appearance of Iron Dome on the battlefields of southern Israel was what compelled Palestinians to scale down the scope of their rocket fire, this would be a major strategic achievement of Israel’s newly deployed missile shield, and a resounding exoneration for the resources invested in it.
The threat to Israel of missile warfare is somewhat exaggerated and public discourse on this issue should reflect realistic assessments. Missile attacks would be able to inflict only limited physical damage on Israel.
Almost the entire Israeli home front has come under rocket and missile assault. This article surveys the Israeli response to rocket attacks, including the targeting of missile launchers and improved civil defense; and discusses the need for a comprehensive active missile defense.
Security in the Gulf
Tension over Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood has damaged relations between Doha and its Gulf neighbors. The days of the GCC may be numbered.
There is speculation on collaboration between Saudi Arabia and Israel against Iran. However, given its history and concern for the legitimacy of its rule, the Saudis are more likely to draw closer to Iran.
Yemen is on the verge of becoming a failed state, as the interim government struggles to fight terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda, that have made Yemen a base of operations.
The process of balancing and satisfying Saudi royal factions depends on patience and conservatism within royal circles. It also requires quiet in the streets of Riyadh and Jedda. Thus far, there are no signs of the so-called “Arab Spring” spreading to Saudi Arabia.
The Saudis are all bark and no bite. Despite occasional public “outrage” from Saudi officials about US policy regarding the Arab unrest, Israel, Iraq, Iran, or Afghanistan, Riyadh and Washington are still very distant from the parting of ways threatened by some Saudi officials.