The U.S. Isn’t Involved in the Middle East in Order to Defend Israel, Nor Should It Be

Nov. 30 2018

Speaking to the Washington Post on Tuesday about the importance of maintaining the U.S.-Saudi alliance, President Trump named Israel as “one reason” for an American presence in the Middle East. This is not the first time the administration has made such an assertion. To Herb Keinon, it is a dangerous one:

The last thing Israel wants the average American to think is that U.S. troops in the Middle East are risking their lives—and at times losing them—to protect Israel. Israel has been careful never to ask for U.S. troops to be deployed in the region. It has lobbied Washington long and hard for weapons and funds to buy arms, saying “Give us the wherewithal to defend ourselves.” But it has never asked America to do the actual defending. . . .

Israel’s position is that the U.S. is engaged in the Middle East because it is a U.S. interest to be engaged in the Middle East, since it is vital for U.S, security and for Washington’s strategic position in the world to be involved in this region and keep it from falling into the hands of Islamic radicals—be they Sunni or Shiite. Those radical forces would like nothing more than to see a Mideast without any American presence or influence. . . .

Jerusalem wants to see the U.S. engaged, influential, and active in the region. . . . This sentiment is in no way unique to Israel. Saudi Arabia, the rest of the Persian Gulf countries, Egypt, and Jordan are all fearful of a situation where the U.S. would withdraw within itself. Were that to happen, other actors would fill the vacuum, as was the case in Syria, where in 2015 Russia moved in as the U.S. waffled during the Syrian civil war. And two things are certain if other actors fill the vacuum left by the U.S.: first, those actors will be much less benign; second, they will be much less concerned about Israel’s interests.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Donald Trump, Israel & Zionism, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy, US-Israel relations

Hizballah Prepares for War, and UN Peacekeepers Do Nothing

Dec. 10 2018

According to last year’s UN Security Council Resolution 2373, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)—the peacekeeping force created after the Second Lebanon War to keep both Israel and Hizballah out of southern Lebanon—is authorized “to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces, and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind.” If anything ought to rouse UNIFIL to action, writes Elliott Abrams, it should be the IDF’s recent discovery and destruction of tunnels dug by Hizballah to move troops into the Galilee:

The existence of these tunnels, dug from precisely the area of southern Lebanon that UNIFIL is meant to patrol, means that this area is indeed “utilized for hostile activities.” What, then, is the meaning of [UNIFIL’s statement in] response that it “will communicate its preliminary findings to the appropriate authorities in Lebanon”? The meaning is that UNIFIL will likely do nothing.

UNIFIL is not supposed to be merely a means of communication, or the Security Council would have bought cell phones instead of paying for a military force. Moreover, there are no “appropriate authorities” in Lebanon; if there were, Hizballah would never have been able to dig its tunnels.

The tunnels are hardly the only brazen Hizballah violation of the Security Council resolutions undertaken right under UNIFIL’s nose. Consider this: Hizballah is blocking roads in southern Lebanon to smooth the path of missiles it is moving into the area. . . . Then there is the village of Gila, just north of the Israeli border, where there is a Hizballah headquarters and according to the Israelis about twenty warehouses with weapons, combat positions, lookout points, and dozens of underground positions. All this was built in an area supposedly patrolled by UNIFIL. . . .

This is a test of UNIFIL and its new commander, [Stefan Del Col, who took over in August]. “Communicating” to “appropriate authorities” is a euphemism for doing nothing at all. Hizballah is preparing for war. UNIFIL is supposed to get in its way. If it cannot hinder Hizballah’s war preparations in any way, and is even ignorant of them, UNIFIL is a waste of time and money.

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Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Lebanon, United Nations