What the Israeli Prime Minister Should Tell President Biden about Iran

This Thursday, Naftali Bennett plans to meet with the American president, presumably to discuss the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Jacob Nagel and Mark Dubowitz outline the problems with Washington’s current approach to its negotiations with Tehran—which has been allowed to accumulate a dangerously large stockpile of nuclear-weapon fuel and has every intention of producing more. Given this precarious situation, the head of the Israeli government must seize this moment to make Israel’s security position clear:

Prime Minister Bennett will likely not confront the United States publicly. . . . But he needs to be firm in communicating Israel’s main principles. Israel must not be part of a new agreement that involves returning to the [2015 nuclear deal with Iran] and must maintain its full freedom of action while strengthening its military options for dealing with Iranian nuclear capabilities. The U.S. and Israel should work together on gathering intelligence on Iran’s weaponization program and not accept Tehran’s attempts to thwart the International Atomic Energy Commission’s inspections.

If there is no other option to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, the Jewish state will go it alone. Any hint that Jerusalem will only act with American consent implicates Washington, which is good for no one. It would make it more difficult for the Biden team to assert plausible deniability after a strike and may complicate or block Israeli action. Israel must avoid another critical error—it should not enter any talks with the Biden administration about “compensation” or the definition of a “longer and stronger” agreement before Iran officially agrees to enter this negotiation.

Read more at Newsweek

More about: Iran nuclear program, Joseph Biden, Naftali Bennett, U.S. Foreign policy, US-Israel relations


Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security