Israel Expands its Shadow War Against Iran

In recent months, Jonathan Spyer reports, Israeli operations on Iranian soil have moved beyond targeted attacks on nuclear personnel and facilities. This shift is not merely tactical in nature, he argues. Rather it reflects Prime Minister Naftali Bennet’s perception, shared by many in the security establishment, that Tehran’s nuclear program cannot be viewed in isolation from its broader plan for regional domination.

While serving as defense minister in February 2020, Mr. Bennett told Israeli reporters: “When the octopus tentacles hit you, you must fight back not just against the tentacles, but also make sure to suffocate the head. . . . For years on end, we have fought against the Iranian tentacles in Lebanon, Syria, and the Gaza Strip, but we have not focused enough on weakening Iran itself. Now we are changing the paradigm.”

Israel sees Iran as engaged in a comprehensive, strategic drive intended to result in Tehran’s emergence as the dominant or hegemonic power in the Middle East. The destruction of Israel is a key element in this strategy. This project focuses on political and proxy military activity, investment in Iran’s ballistic-missile program, and the development of a nuclear capacity intended as a kind of insurance policy for the other two elements.

The Jewish state, in turn, is in the process of formulating and implementing a comprehensive response. A counter-envelopment of Iran through deepening ties with states surrounding it—including Azerbaijan to the north and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia to the southwest—forms part of this approach. Israel’s 2021 transfer to the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility offers potential for making these growing links operational in key areas, such as missile defense.

Read more at Wall Street Journal

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Naftali Bennett

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship