India and Israel Share a Strategic Agenda, and the U.S. Can Benefit

Last month, Benjamin Netanyahu paid an official visit to India, reciprocating a summer 2017 visit to Israel by his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi. Efraim Inbar explains the geopolitical logic that brings the two countries together, and its significance:

Both [countries] have waged major conventional wars against their neighbors and have experienced low‐intensity conflict and terror, as they are both involved in protracted conflicts characterized by complex ethnic and religious components not always well understood by outsiders. Weapons of mass destruction are in the hands of their rivals.

Both regard parts of the Arab world as hubs for Islamic extremism—a common threat. Moreover, India fears the Pakistani nuclear arsenal might ultimately fall into the hands of Islamic radicals, while Israel sees the mix in Iran of Islamic zeal and nuclear ambitions as an existential threat. The offshoots of Islamic State threaten the stability of Egypt and Jordan—Israel’s neighbors—and are increasingly sources of concern in South and Southeast Asia. . . .

Washington is important for [both] Jerusalem and New Delhi. India, a major player in the international system, has [of late] improved its relations with the U.S. Nevertheless, New Delhi’s links with Jerusalem have the potential to smooth over some of the difficulties in dealing with the U.S. Working with Israel fits into Modi’s plan to deepen relations with the U.S. given the U.S.‐Israel friendship. . . .

Gradually, India has overcome its reservations about security cooperation with Israel— not only on counterterrorism, which preceded the establishment of diplomatic relations and has been conducted away from the public eye. . . . [It is] noteworthy that Modi’s trip to Israel was not “balanced” with a visit to the Palestinian Authority, indicating that India has decoupled its relations with Israel from its historical commitment to the Palestinian issue. India has even occasionally refrained from joining the automatic majority against Israel in international forums.

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, India, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, U.S. Foreign policy

The Dangers of Diplomacy with Iran

Aug. 21 2018

Although President Trump’s offer to meet with President Rouhani of the Islamic Republic was rejected, the possibility of direct negotiations remains. Ray Takeyh and Mark Dubowitz warn that Tehran could use talks to stall and gain leverage over Washington:

The mullahs understand that just by staying at the table, Americans usually offer up concessions. [They] are betting that the Trump administration may become weaker over time, preoccupied with domestic politics. Best to entangle America in protracted diplomacy while awaiting what the regime expects will be midterm Republican losses in Congress and the return of a more flexible Democratic president to power in 2021. This is what [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei probably meant when he stressed that negotiations have to wait until America is softened up.

Diplomacy would surely blunt the impact of U.S. pressure. The mullahs believe they can undermine the escalation of [U.S.] sanctions by being diplomatically flirtatious and know well that America seldom disrupts negotiations with military action. Indeed, as a prelude to the talks, Iran may even resume its nuclear activities to frighten the Europeans and gain leverage by putting even more pressure on Washington to adjust its red lines.

Should negotiations begin, the Trump team should take sensible precautions to avoid the predicament of the Obama negotiators. The administration will need to maintain its maximum-pressure campaign and its negotiating demands. . . . Any negotiations with the Islamic Republic should be time-limited, and Washington must be prepared to leave the table when it confronts the usual pattern of regime bombast and mendacity.

Donald Trump should insist on direct talks with the supreme leader, as he did with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un: Rouhani is a lame duck without any real influence. The administration also should demand that Europeans join its sanctions policy targeting Iran’s ballistic-missile program, support for terrorism, and human-rights abuses as a price for their participation in the talks.

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More about: Ali Khamenei, Donald Trump, Hassan Rouhani, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy