Iran Isn’t Eager to Reject the Nuclear Deal

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other senior figures in the Islamic Republic repeatedly threatened that, were America to withdraw from the nuclear agreement, their country would immediately do likewise and resume the activities the deal proscribed. In truth, write Yigal Carmon and A. Savyon, this threat has proved an empty one:

The Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei, . . . in a speech following the U.S. withdrawal from the deal, did not announce that Iran was [itself] withdrawing, as he had stated in the past that he would if the U.S. did. Furthermore, he has given President Rouhani increasing room to maneuver in reaching new agreements with the Europeans. This was also Khamenei’s modus operandi when the agreement was accepted—he spoke against it at the same time as he approved it. Iran has no real tools to deal with the U.S.’s withdrawal from the agreement, or with the Europeans’ anticipated withdrawal from it as well, which may happen because they have no option. . . .

There has also been a shift in Iran’s position concerning its nuclear program and the resumption of its uranium enrichment in excess of the percentage permitted it by the nuclear deal. While prior to President Trump’s announcement [of American withdrawal], Iranian regime spokesmen had threatened to renew uranium enrichment, since the announcement the regime has taken no steps aimed at doing so, or at resuming activity in any other areas of its nuclear program.

Carmon and Savyon see similar timidity when it comes to tensions with Israel over Syria:

Iran is not ready for a widescale confrontation with Israel, and the steps it is taking in the hostilities are minimal. It has announced a policy of restraint, and has responded in measured fashion, one time only, to the serial Israeli attacks that caused Iranian loss of life and damage to Iranian battle arrays in Syria.

As on previous occasions, Iran is, for the time being, refraining from publishing any reports on the May 10 widescale Israeli attacks that struck as many as 50 Iranian targets in Syria. The Iranian media’s reports on the hail of Iranian rockets on Israeli military targets in the Golan Heights depict this as an operation carried out by the Syrian army, not by Iran, and in response to an Israeli attack that preceded it. Iran also is refraining, in its media, from presenting the Israeli attacks as a direct Israel-Iran confrontation. As far as Iran is concerned, any postponement of all-out confrontation with Israel is preferable, because Iran has not yet completed all steps of its deployment in the region, and U.S. forces still remain in Syria.

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More about: Ali Khamenei, Iran, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy

Yasir Arafat’s Decades-Long Alliance with Iran and Its Consequences for Both Palestinians and Iranians

Jan. 18 2019

In 2002—at the height of the second intifada—the Israeli navy intercepted the Karina A, a Lebanese vessel carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But Yasir Arafat’s relationship with the Islamic Republic goes much farther back, to before its founding in 1979. The terrorist leader had forged ties with followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that grew especially strong in the years when Lebanon became a base of operations both for Iranian opponents of the shah and for the PLO itself. Tony Badran writes:

The relationship between the Iranian revolutionary factions and the Palestinians began in the late 1960s, in parallel with Arafat’s own rise in preeminence within the PLO. . . . [D]uring the 1970s, Lebanon became the site where the major part of the Iranian revolutionaries’ encounter with the Palestinians played out. . . .

The number of guerrillas that trained in Lebanon with the Palestinians was not particularly large. But the Iranian cadres in Lebanon learned useful skills and procured weapons and equipment, which they smuggled back into Iran. . . . The PLO established close working ties with the Khomeinist faction. . . . [W]orking [especially] closely with the PLO [was] Mohammad Montazeri, son of the senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri and a militant who had a leading role in developing the idea of establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) once the revolution was won.

The Lebanese terrorist and PLO operative Anis Naccache, who coordinated with [the] Iranian revolutionaries, . . . takes personal credit for the idea. Naccache claims that Jalaleddin Farsi, [a leading Iranian revolutionary], approached him specifically and asked him directly to draft the plan to form the main pillar of the Khomeinist regime. The formation of the IRGC may well be the greatest single contribution that the PLO made to the Iranian revolution. . . .

Arafat’s fantasy of pulling the strings and balancing the Iranians and the Arabs in a grand anti-Israel camp of regional states never stood much of a chance. However, his wish to see Iran back the Palestinian armed struggle is now a fact, as Tehran has effectively become the principal, if not the only, sponsor of the Palestinian military option though its direct sponsorship of Islamic Jihad and its sustaining strategic and organizational ties with Hamas. By forging ties with the Khomeinists, Arafat unwittingly helped to achieve the very opposite of his dream. Iran has turned [two] Palestinian factions into its proxies, and the PLO has been relegated to the regional sidelines.

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More about: Hamas, History & Ideas, Iran, Lebanon, PLO, Yasir Arafat