It’s Time to Abandon the Iran Deal

During a recent Senate hearing, the White House Iran envoy, Robert Malley, offered a dismal view of the prospects for a nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic, claiming that the administration is “fully prepared to live with and confront the reality” of not reaching a deal. Then, yesterday, Tehran announced it was shutting off the cameras used by nuclear inspectors at its uranium-enrichment sites, meaning that there are now no remaining checks on its path to a bomb. Eric Edelman and Charles Wald argue that the administration should immediately abandon negotiations and adopt a new plan to curb Iranian aggression, rather than allow the mullahs to draw out talks indefinitely.

Foremost, this means supporting Israel’s freedom of action, [as it has] borne the heaviest burdens of holding the line against Tehran. The United States should swiftly transfer key weaponry for which Israel already is arranging procurement, including KC-46A refueling tankers, additional F-35 aircraft, precision-guided munitions, and missile defenses.

Building on strategic opportunities created by the Abraham Accords, the Biden administration should find ways to incorporate Israel’s highly capable forces into U.S.-led joint military exercises, operations, and maritime-security task forces with its Arab partners. Additionally, serious efforts are urgently needed to build an effective region-wide air defense and shared early-warning system to counter Iran’s alarming advances in missiles and armed drones. The United States should also explore ways to facilitate the transfer of Israel’s world-class air-defense systems to the Gulf.

A potential Middle East summit next month, when the president visits Israel, offers the perfect opportunity to announce formally this strengthened U.S. approach . . . and to mend diplomatic fences with Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. Both of these vital partners have been deeply alarmed by the persistence of Plan A and have begun hedging toward some combination of China, Russia, and Iran.

Read more at The Hill

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy

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