As Secretary of State, John Kerry Divulged Information about Covert Israeli Strikes to His Iranian Counterpart

In recently leaked audio tapes, the Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reports that then-Secretary of State John Kerry told him that Israel had carried out at least 200 strikes on Iranian targets in Syria. David Harsanyi comments:

A high-ranking American official feels comfortable sharing this information with an autocratic adversary—a government that’s murdered hundreds of Americans, regularly kidnapped them, interfered with our elections, and propped up a regime that gasses its own people—about the covert actions of a long-time American ally. What else did he tell Zarif? . . . It wouldn’t be surprising if Israel was more reluctant to share intel with the United States when [diplomats] such as Kerry show more fondness for those making genocidal threats against the Jewish people than they do for the state that protects them.

During the Obama years, [supporters of the 2015 nuclear deal] would offer an ugly false choice: you either support diplomacy with the “moderate” wing of the theocratic state, or you endorse “war”; either fly unmarked euros in tonnage and bail out the mullahs, or plunge America into another Iraq war. At one point, President Obama claimed that the Republican caucus was making “common cause” with Iranian hardliners.

The opposite was true. In the leaked audio from Zarif, we hear that the military and theocratic forces in the nation “call the shots” and overrule “government decisions and ignoring advice.” . . . Zarif says that the political wing is “severely constricted” and decisions “are dictated by the supreme leader or Revolutionary Guards Corps.” Obama’s contention that the Iran deal was being forged with the “moderate faction” was always a fantasy.

The former secretary of state, and current special presidential envoy for climate, has denied the reports.

Read more at National Review

More about: Iran, Javad Zarif, John Kerry, US-Israel relations

Why Hizballah Is Threatening Cyprus

In a speech last Wednesday, Hizballah’s secretary general Hassan Nasrallah not only declared that “nowhere will be safe” in Israel in the event of an all-out war, but also that his forces would attack the island nation of Cyprus. Hanin Ghaddar, Farzin Nadimi, and David Schenker observe that this is no idle threat, but one the Iran-backed terrorist group has “a range of options” for carrying out. They explain: 

Nasrallah’s threat to Cyprus was not random—the republic has long maintained close ties with Israel, much to Hizballah’s irritation. In recent years, the island has hosted multiple joint air-defense drills and annual special-forces exercises with Israel focused on potential threats from Hizballah and Iran.

Nasrallah’s threat should also be viewed in the context of wartime statements by Iran and its proxies about disrupting vital shipping lanes to Israel through the East Mediterranean.

This scenario should be particularly troubling to Washington given the large allied military presence in Cyprus, which includes a few thousand British troops, more than a hundred U.S. Air Force personnel, and a detachment of U-2 surveillance aircraft from the 1st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron.

Yoni Ben Menachem suggests there is an additional aspect to Nasrallah’s designs on Cyprus, involving a plan

to neutralize the Israeli air force through two primary actions: a surprise attack with precision missiles and UAVs on Israeli air-force bases and against radar and air-defense facilities, including paralyzing Ben-Gurion Airport.

Nasrallah’s goal is to ground Israeli aircraft to prevent them from conducting missions in Lebanon against mid- and long-range missile launchers. Nasrallah fears that Israel might preempt his planned attack by deploying its air force to Cypriot bases, a scenario the Israeli air force practiced with Cyprus during military exercises over the past year.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Cyprus, Hizballah, U.S. Security