Tag Archives: Iranian nuclear program negotiations

BITS AND PIECES IN ISRAEL

BLOG 526

July 18, 2021

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

BITS AND PIECES IN ISRAEL

Here’s some of what is floating around the Middle East today. Israel continues to press the US to not join the Iranian deal. Even though former Prime Minister Netanyahu made a veiled threats against the Biden Administration over returning to the nuclear arms pact, Chief of  Military Staff Avi Koavi  pledged total cooperation and coordination with America.  In turn, President  Biden told Israeli President Reuven  Rivlin “Iran will never get a nuclear weapon on my watch.”

Readers might draw the conclusion that Israel continues to fight the Khomeini Revolutionary regimen while trying not to provoke the people and their pride. At the same time, Israel continues to frustrate nuclear development within Iran.

Here’s a new twist in the Israel-Washington story.  The New York Times reported that Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Donald Trump to launch a military strike against Iran after it was clear that the former US president had lost the 2020 election. General Mark Milley, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, battled to prevent Trump from ordering a strike against Iran, while the President was circled by hawks, including Netanyahu, pressuring him to execute such a strike.

“If you do this, you’re gonna have a **** war,” Milley reportedly warned Trump at one point.

Other foreign policy advisers, including then-Vice President Mike Pence, also reportedly pushed for military action against Iran. When Milley asked why they were so intent on attacking the Iranians, at a meeting where Trump was not present, Pence replied: “Because they are evil.”

The newspaper story reported Milley believed that Trump did not want a war, but said the outgoing president kept pushing for a missile strike in response to Iranian provocations against US interests in the region. The chairman ultimately succeeded in preventing such a strike in the tail-end of Trump’s term.

The Joint Chiefs head said Trump was preaching Hitler’s ‘gospel’ before the Capitol riot. “In the months after the election, with Trump seemingly willing to do anything to stay in power, the subject of Iran was repeatedly raised in White House meetings with the President, and Milley repeatedly argued against a strike,” the New Yorker piece reported. Milley “was worried that Trump might set in motion a full-scale conflict that was not justified.”

It’s always a challenge to discover what’s going on behind closed doors. Then again, sometimes you really don’t want to know!

My latest books:

I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II

Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!

by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.

82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.

by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Iran, Israel, The Middle East, Trump

BREAK THROUGH OR BREAK DOWN?

BLOG 507

February 22, 2021

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

BREAK THROUGH OR BREAK DOWN?

Bone- cracking weather grabbed the headlines. Rightly so! In the southwest we’ve never had such frighteningly low temperatures. However, the snow didn’t keep things from warming up in Washington. In case you missed it, President Biden is returning to the nuclear agreement achieved with Iran before Mr. Trump dumped it. The former president’s arbitrary actions might have sounded bold but they only undermined attempts to stop Iran from getting “The Bomb.” Now America is returning to the bargaining table. Efforts worth watching.

Here’s what happened this week and how this is impacting the Middle East.

The Biden administration said Thursday it’s ready to join talks with Iran and world powers to discuss a return to the 2015 nuclear deal. It’s also reversed the Trump administration’s determination that all UN sanctions against Iran had been restored and eased stringent restrictions on the domestic US travel of Iranian diplomats posted to the United Nations. The State Department said the US would accept an invitation from the European Union to attend a meeting of the participants in the original agreement. The US has not participated in a meeting of those participants since former president Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018.   

There has been no response yet from Iran, which has demanded that the US lift sanctions before it returns to talks.

Meanwhile, at the United Nations, the Biden administration notified the Security Council that it had withdrawn Trump’s September 2020 invocation of the so-called “snapback” mechanism under which it maintained that all UN sanctions against Iran had been re-imposed. That determination had been vigorously disputed by nearly all other UN members and had left the US isolated at the world body.

Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have long opposed the 2015 agreement and repeatedly warned against the US returning to the deal. There has been no response yet from Jerusalem about the US announcement that it was ready to resume talks, which came after midnight in Israel. The Reuters news agency, citing a source familiar with the matter, said the US had informed Israel ahead of time about Thursday’s announcement, but that US President Joe Biden had not told Netanyahu directly.

How can we understand this situation? First, the current administration’s actions are a return to diplomacy rather than erratic, dictatorial unilateral degrees. This puts America back in a conciliar and responsible position. That’s good for the world.

Second, Iran is now faced with having to allow inspection of its nuclear facilities or be faced with world-wide recognition of their having war-like intentions.  Prime Minister Netanyahu’s objections are understandable but express fears in Israel based on Iran’s vow to destroy their country. After all is said and done, Israel has the nuclear capacity to destroy Iran’s facilities. They have already been throwing money wrenches in Iran’s pursuit of nuclear energy for some time

Hopefully, America’s return to the bargaining table will continue forward progress.

My latest books:

I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II

Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!

by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.

82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.

by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

Please watch and subscribe to my new YouTube channel MIRACLES NEVER CEASE, where I post interviews with people sharing their experiences with divine encounters!

Let the miracles begin!

Episode 2 – Rev Joseph Bias

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Iran, The Middle East

OPTIONS FOR IRAN

BLOG  499

December 21, 2020

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

OPTIONS FOR IRAN 

Following the killing of Iran’s top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, immediate speculation was the Israel attempted to deter President-elect Biden’s announcement of America rejoining the Iranian nuclear agreement. Fakhrizadeh was considered indispensable. Since then, that idea has slipped, with inside observers now believing the shooting will not change Biden’s intention.  However, nothing has shifted in Iran’s announcement that retaliation will follow. Sometime.

Iran did not make an immediate strike as it is not clear who masterminded the killing. They are convinced that it was Israel and America, but there’s no evidence that would stand up in court. Nevertheless, Israel can count on some sort of reprisal. The question is where does this enigma now stand?

First, the Biden team will have to make a thorough review of all foreign and defense policies. They must consider how they will deal with the precision-guided munition problem in the Middle East. Iran will be trying to position these deadly weapons for a strike on Israel. Biden will have his hands full. Probably Iran will do little for now.

Second, Israel realizes Biden will not respond as Trump did. Trump and Netanyahu played each other like fiddles for their own personal political objectives. Biden will be  more balanced and not as easily manipulated as he has a long range perspective that Trump never perceived. There will be more balance. Will that deter Iran? Probably not.

Third, what ae Iran’s options? A conventional declaration of war isn’t possible. Israeli security is on high alert.  While Iran is the major sponsor of terrorism in the world, they are in trouble in Lebanon.  The Lebanese economy is in free fall after the terrible explosion in Beirut. Hezbollah has its own complex political problems.

While Iran has been heavily involved in Syria, Israel has domination over intelligence and extensive knowledge of what Iran is doing inside Syria. Israel knows every move Iran makes inside Syria. What’s left?

Probably the most likely avenue is the global terror network run by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Working with Hezbollah and similar terrorist groups, they can strike at targets like Israeli embassies. Of course, Israeli settlements and border town will stay on high alert. The Iranians will bide their time and wait for the most opportune moment to strike.

Israeli analysist Jonathan Spyer offers a cryptic footnote, reminding us that Charles de Gaulle once said, “the grave yards are filled with indispensable men.”

MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I’ll be back in 2021

My latest books:

I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!

by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.

82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.

by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Iran, Israel

THE ON-GOING STRUGGLE IN THE EAST

BLOG 436
July 15, 2019

iran (2)

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation,
ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

THE ON-GOING STRUGGLE IN THE EAST

Iran continues to enrich uranium and America increases the sanctions. Where’s it all going?

Of course, predictions about what’s happening inside Iran are difficult. Their society certainly doesn’t invite American newsmen to drop by for a story. However, some aspects are discernible.

Some years ago, I was in Damascus, Syria (where Western tourists did not go!) and sitting in a hotel eating breakfast. A group of tourists came filing in. One glance said they didn’t look like Arabs or the usual racial groups one sees on the streets in Damascus. I guessed they looked like Iranians. Everybody in the restaurant had already given me a second once over. My attire, haircut, countenance, screamed American and there usually wasn’t anyone around who looked like me.

In the center of the café (as well as the taxis, rest rooms, lobbies, you name it) were pictures of Hafez al-Assad and his son Bashar, the current despot. The impression was clear; the Assads are WATCHING YOU! Not exactly, the most comfortable place for an American to be.

I noticed one couple kept looking at me. I smiled; they smiled back. After a few minutes, they got up and came over to my table. I quickly learned they thought I was a Canadian. They confided that they were trying to get out of Iran and escape to Canada. They were sure I could help them.

Because I had once worked in Canada, I could answer many of their questions. Finally, I asked why they wanted out. The wife said firmly, “The leaders of our government are crazy. The country is ruled by religious lunatics.”

Her response revealed a sharp division in Iran that exists to this day. Groups like the Revolutionary Guard are fanatical extremists while many, many of the average citizens strongly disagree with them. Periodically, there is an explosion between the extremists and the ordinary citizens with revolting in the streets.

In the current situation with sanctions crippling Iran, this division continues to deepen. The average citizen knows that to oppose the government and the Supreme Ruler will bring imprisonment and probably death. On the other hand, the government realizes that a huge percent of the population does not agree with their race to build a nuclear weapon and start a war.

While no one is saying so, probably insiders in the American government are hoping that a revolution will follow before the Islamic extremist government yields.

Keep your eyes open. Who knows what’s coming next!

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Iran, Syria, War

THE REAL DEAL IN THE MIDDLE EAST

BLOG 273 October 5, 2015

Barring some unforeseen huge political shift, the negotiations with Iran will be approved and go into effect. This entire episode has been a monumental strain on the American Jewish community as well as for many Americans. President Obama told 22 Jewish leaders at the White House on August 4, that failure to approve the agreement would pressure the US into a war with Iran. The not-so-subtle suggestion was the US Jews could end up being held accountable for dragging the US into a war. This has created severe tensions in the Jewish community between those who support the agreement and those who stand with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s opposition. Most feel the struggle is now a “done-deal”.

Jewish attorney Alan Dershowitz suggests that we should neither demonize nor lionize Obama. He feels Obama has not treated his relationship with Netanyahu in a mature or productive manner. Dershowitz is also critical of Obama’s suspicion that Netanyahu doesn’t want a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. However, he feels there is far too much extremism at work in these reactions. Well then, what is the real possible quid pro quo coming up for Israel? What will Netanyahu’s opposition to the Iranian agreement cost Israel?

An assumption has existed that any threat from the agreement to Israel or increased pressure from Hamas and Hezbollah will be met by increased armaments. But is this the “real deal?”

Insiders believe this present situation is only the first step in a rapprochement with Iran that will end in the creation of a Palestinian state during Obama’s final years in the White House. In their view Israel is the intransigent and immoral party in the dispute. As this issue is pressed back and forth, the often missed point in all of the problems of the Middle East from ISIS to the Sunni-Shi’ite wars, is that Israel has nothing to do with any of this conflict beyond being a scapegoat. The Iranian nuclear deal is not about The Bomb as much as it is strengthening Shi’ite Iran as a counterweight to balance the power of the Sunni Gulf states. Then, the pressure will be on to solve the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Israel would then be pressured to negotiate a settlement. The vise will tighten. (Or the armaments won’t be shipped.) Quid pro quo.

What is missed in all of these calculations is that many voices doubt that a two-state solution will ever be a viable possibility. The economic viability of a Palestinian state is virtually never discussed. The tax base is almost non-existent and collection of taxes extremely relaxed. They have almost no money to run a state at this time.

In Padraig O’Malley’s book The Two-State Delusion, he notes that Palestinians view a free-standing state only as preparation for the next phase which is the liberating of all of Palestine –or pushing Israel into the sea. By contrast, Israeli Jews support a Palestinian state only with Israeli troops on their soil. O’Malley argues effectively that a two-state solution is a delusion. He concludes, “Ain’t gonna happen.”

If any of these projections are correct, there is significant turmoil ahead.

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Iran, Israel, middle east

DECIPHERING THE TENSION BETWEEN OBAMA & NETANYAHU

BLOG 243 MARCH 9, 2015

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington came at the invitation of Speaker John Boehner – not the Obama administration. With Netanyahu only weeks from a re-election vote, his visit has been protested in Israel as well as by the current administration. The Western nuclear negotiators on Iran put out leaks to the media that ran from Netanyahu is a liar to a disruptive element for the White House. On the other hand, Israel maintains publically that if a bad deal is struck in Iran, their fate will end in total annihilation.

How do we sort out these contradictions? Possibly by considering what is behind each side’s position. One of the lingering criticisms of the Obama era will be the withdrawal of America from an international leadership position. As we now know, the vacuum was not filled by “good-guys.” Putin’s march into the Crimea following Obama’s backing away from his red-line in Syria is such an example. America appears to be back-tracking from its former role of leadership in maintaining world order.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the Israelis recognize that radical Islam comes into two varieties: Shi’ites and Sunnis. They worry more about the Shi’ites because they have a well-entrenched state in Iran that is hot pursuit of The Bomb. The potential capacities of this group are real. Israel lives daily with that fact.

The U.S. government continues to point to the United Nations as the enforcer of world peace. America resorts to the UN in debates and discussions of possible actions. Does anyone really believe the UN can enforce world peace? No.

Israel points to the fact that UN has repeatedly sided with the Palestinians and ignored such realities as Hezbollah shooting thousands of rockets into Israel. Study groups and committees within the UN have been labeled anti-Semitic. Israelis (as well as most of the rest of the world) see the UN as going nowhere when it comes to war and peace.

There is with Shi’ite Islam a “quietism” tradition that believes politics and religion don’t mix.  This ends up with the idea that ultimate leadership should come from the Muslim clergy. (i.e. Iran.) The Israelis certainly don’t see that system working out on their behalf.

Obama recently called the attacks in France “senseless violence.” Israel would call it “logical violence.” They see it as having definite reasoning.  For example, the New York Times refused to publish cartoons that Muslims protested while publishing cartoons that are offensive to Christians and Jews. An Islamic purpose was accomplished. This contradiction displays how what may seem pointless can mean a great deal in the Muslim world.

The bottom line is negotiations to end nuclear pursuit in Iran would be Obama’s major accomplishment in his second term. The agreement would be his legacy. On the other hand, the Israelis believe Iran has no intention of signing a treaty that halts their pursuit of The Bomb on a permanent basis. This view seems them as only stalling for time.

Does this amount to a problem between Israel and the United States? Big time.

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Israel, middle east, Muslims

FROM OUT OF THE FOG: AN OBAMA POSITION

            For the last few months I have been pointing out that the current administration appears to have no strategy for the Middle East. The Obama administration fumbled in Egypt and couldn’t seem to be able to make up its mind whether the coup was a public uprising – or really a coup. To avoid cutting off funding, they finally decided it wasn’t a coup – after the entire world knew it was a military coup. Even worse indecision paralyzed any action in Syria until Putin pulled Obama off the hot seat. Following that mess, Israel declared they would go it alone in responding to Iran’s nuclear program (Because they couldn’t count on the Obama administration to act with any backbone) My question has been, “where is this going and are greater disasters ahead.”

            For the first time, we are now catching a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel. Sunday, October 27th New York Times had a front page story detailing where the Obama administration now seems to be headed. Entitled “Rice Offers A More Modest Strategy for Mideast,” the story describes the influence of former Ambassador Susan E. Rice’s term that have now articulated an American position in the Middle East.

Ms. Rice has now made it clear that there are limits on what the United States will do to nurture democracy in countries like Egypt, Libya, Yemen, etc. George Bush promised to raise the flag and start democracy in Iraqi. We now know how disastrous that idea was as religious war continues. Some voices will decry this change as a retreat from responsibility, but it reflects a new realism. The United States has learned that an educated and informed electorate is necessary. Many parts of the Muslim world simply prefer a religious system with imams at the top. However, the shift reflects President Obama’s personal concern that Middle East events could swallow his foreign policy agenda as it did with Bush.

Obama appears to be embracing pragmatism while eschewing military force except in a direct attack on American soil. The American public will embrace backing away from war. However, making this position a known policy has its problems as it does appear retreating from where the country has been. Holding back also makes the administration venerable  to being  kicked back forth between crises.

It is clear:

  1. America will make settling the Iranian nuclear issue a priority.
  2. Creating peace between Israel and Palestine remains at the top of the list.
  3. More attention will be given to Asia.

The situation in Egypt remains up for grabs and the administration still remain uncertain about how to respond. They will allow the turmoil in that country to settle before acting.

Both Israel and Saudi Arabia appear to be backing away from their previous positions as major allies. Not good.

Is the new Obama position an improvement? Only time will tell.

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Israel, middle east, Palestinians

ISRAEL GOES IT ALONE

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned during Israel’s Independence Day Celebration that Israel may have to go it alone in their defense against Iranian nuclear intentions. Ya’alon noted that Israel is unimpressed with the steps the West has taken to stop the Iranian nuclear program. In his speech in Herzliya, he noted that the Iranian race to build a bomb as the “most significant” threat out there not only for Israel but the Middle East and the world. He recognized that Tehran’s nuclear ambitions could start a arms race in the entire region that would only have disastrous consequences.

So, why can’t Washington get on board?

Look at the situation from Israel’s point of view. The truth is that depending on the American government is like being a marriage counselor for a totally dysfunctional family. The Democrats and Republicans are locked in their own war that is beyond rationality. Democrats are scrambling to defend the administration over the Benghazi disaster and protect Hillary Clinton for the future. Mitch McConnell is willing to filibuster whatever he doesn’t like to keep everybody else from voting. John Boehner’s leadership is about as inspired as a high school football player being sent in to quarterback the Notre Dame football team for a national championship. Obama now has the IRS issue hanging around his neck because the agency has acted in a dictatorial and arbitrary manner. It appears that Obama cannot even get gun legislation and immigration reform through congress because of the petty politics of the members. The president is looking tired and more than a little worn.

The bottom line? Can Israel really depend on Washington to do anything? Moshe Ya’alon’s answer seems to be no.

His point is clear. While the nations gather to talk and Iran always backs away with some lame excuse, the centrifuges in Iran keep spinning. Why should Tehran worry about Washington? Sure, the sanctions have hurt the Iranian little man on the street, but the country continues to press on. Once they get the BIG BOMB, they know all bets are off.

Hanging in the balance is the issue of whether the already nuclear armed North Koreans will be fearful of Washington if the USA does not keep their threats. Syria appears to have already challenged Obama’s statements on the use of chemical weapons. Ya’alon states the obvious. Words won’t do the trick; only actions will count.

In his speech Ya’alon noted that the Israeli war of independence has not ended yet. The battle goes on in new forms and expressions. Recently, the Israeli military shot down an unmanned drone Hezbollah had flow over Israel near the northern city of Haifa. Prime Minister Netanyahu had warned that Hezbollah might try to take advantage of the conflict in Syria to attempt to obtain game-changing weapons. In response, Israel has knocked these invaders from the sky.

They believe they can do the same in Iran.

What’s ahead? I believe Israel will not linger until they are thoroughly endangered. Don’t expect them to wait on the United States.

Leave a comment

Filed under Iran, Israel, middle east