The New American Embassy Punctures the Fantasy of an International Jerusalem

Today, the U.S. will officially open its new embassy in Jerusalem. Nadav Shragai explains what this event does, and does not, signify:

[T]he transfer of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem is another nail in the coffin in which [the Trump administration] placed UN Resolution 181 of November 29, 1947, which called for the internationalization of Jerusalem [along with the partition of Mandatory Palestine into Jewish and Arab states]. This metaphorical coffin is the consequence of U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on December 6, 2017. Now, it would seem, [internationalization] is being laid to rest in its grave. . . .

At the same time, to put matters into proportion, it is worth stating [that], contrary to the lamentations and threats of war on the Palestinian side, but also in contrast to the fanfare and sense of victory on the Israeli side, this is neither cause for another Nakba [“catastrophe”] for the Palestinians nor a second November 29, 1947 celebration for Israel. The embassy transfer is primarily a snapshot of the situation and de jure recognition of what already exists de facto: Jerusalem, and definitely its western part, where the United States is now putting its embassy, is the capital of Israel. The United States, as opposed to most other countries in the world, recognizes this reality and has given it recognition and its seal of approval.

Does this mean that the concept of the internationalization of Jerusalem will never be tossed back into the international arena in the future? No. . . . At the same time, the fact that a power like the United States has effectively erased the internationalization option with regard to the entire area of Jerusalem is very significant. . . .

[Meanwhile], the Arab world is divided. The (comparative) silence of Egypt and the Saudis on [the transfer of the embassy], which Jordan has also joined, have made it easier for President Trump to go through with it. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan will also benefit from generous future economic and military aid from the Trump administration. They are part of the coalition that Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu are building against Iran and the organizations and countries that are helping it, including Hizballah, Hamas, Syria, and Turkey. The Saudis and Egyptians have expressed formal opposition to Trump’s actions, but they have been careful not to push the boundaries on this issue. Jordan, which at first appeared to join in with Turkey, has taken a step or two back.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Israel & Zionism, Jerusalem, Jordan, U.S. Foreign policy

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen