Why Should the President Pretend that Iran Is Complying with the Nuclear Agreement?

Oct. 11 2017

According to a report by the German government, Iranian agents made 32 illegal attempts in 2016 to purchase materials necessary for the country’s ballistic-missile and nuclear-weapons programs; meanwhile, Tehran has not allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to carry out the inspections mandated by the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA). Thus, argues Abe Greenwald, there is little reason for the president to certify Iran’s compliance with the agreement by the October 15 deadline:

If Trump were not to decertify the deal, he would be lying about one of the gravest matters of American national security. He’d be declaring, against the testimony of the IAEA, that Iran is allowing for certain crucial inspections when, in fact, it’s not. The United States would become Iran’s duplicitous representative to international bodies.

Why do that? Well, the thinking goes, Iran has already received tens of billions of dollars as a result of the deal. Killing the deal wouldn’t help us recoup those losses; it would only further limit our ability to keep tabs on Iran. This is a compelling argument but only because there are always compelling reasons to let bad actors have their way. Those reasons boil down to the idea that confronting dangerous parties is riskier than appeasing them.

It is this very thinking that has for decades guided our mistaken policy on Iran and North Korea. While institutional inertia ensures no change in bad American policy, the countries we try to deter strengthen their hands and become effectively undeterrable. That’s how the world’s worst problems—North Korea’s nuclear program, for example—become unsolvable. . . .

Is there a better deal to be had? I doubt it, but it could be worth trying. . . . [And] what if the JCPOA is dismantled and there’s no better deal to be had? . . . Iran wants to dictate to or destroy the United States or its allies by possessing a deliverable nuclear weapon. If that doesn’t warrant consideration of a bombing run, nothing does.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Donald Trump, Iran nuclear program, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

Hamas Sets Its Sights on Taking over the PLO

Oct. 20 2017

Examining the recent reconciliation agreement between the rival Palestinian organizations Fatah and Hamas, Eyal Zisser argues that the latter sees the deal as a way to install its former leader, Khaled Meshal, as head of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and thereby the Palestinian Authority. It wouldn’t be the first time something like this happened:

Even the former Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat . . . took the PLO leadership by force. His first steps, incidentally, were with the Fatah organization, which he cofounded in January 1965 in Damascus, under Syrian patronage. Fatah was meant to serve as a counterweight to the rival PLO, which had come into existence [earlier] under Egyptian patronage. Arafat, however, was relegated to the sidelines in the Palestinian arena. It was only after the 1967 Six-Day War that he exploited the resounding defeat of the Arab armies to join the PLO as the leader of Fatah, which led to his gaining control over [the PLO itself].

Meshal [most likely] wants to follow in Arafat’s footsteps—a necessary maneuver for a man who aspires to lead the Palestinian national movement, particularly after realizing that military might and even a hostile takeover of [either Gaza or the West Bank] will not grant him the legitimacy he craves.

It is hard to believe that Fatah will willingly hand over the keys to leadership, and it is also safe to assume that Egypt does not want to see Hamas grow stronger. But quasi-democratic developments such as these have their own dynamics. In 2006, Israel was persuaded by Washington to allow Hamas to run in the general Palestinian elections, thinking the Islamist group had no chance of winning. But Hamas won those elections. We can assume Meshal will now look to repeat that political ploy by joining the PLO and vying for its leadership.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Fatah, Hamas, Khaled Meshal, Palestinian Authority, PLO, Politics & Current Affairs, Yasir Arafat