John Kerry Holds Fast to His Middle East Misconceptions

On the second night of the virtual Democratic convention, the former secretary of state John Kerry gave a speech touting the supposed foreign-policy accomplishments of the Obama administration. In his remarks, the one-time Massachusetts senator made clear that he still maintains the beliefs about the Middle East—especially those involving the nuclear deal with Iran—that informed his diplomatic career, and that have been proved so damaging to regional order, to the lives of millions of people who live there, and to American prestige. David Harsanyi comments:

Kerry himself acknowledged [during his tenure] that sanctions relief would likely end up in the coffers of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard—now a designated terror group. Surely, then, he knew that the pallets of euros and Swiss francs he was shipping to Tehran in an unmarked cargo plane would also find their way to the groups triggering conflicts across the Middle East—not to mention subjugating people at home. [All the while], Kerry was placating Russia and allowing a humanitarian disaster to unfold in Syria in an effort to save the [nuclear] deal with Iran.

Obama-administration officials—led by Kerry—long peddled this false choice: the Iran deal or war. Well, the U.S. is no longer a party to the Iran deal, and there is no war. Meanwhile, there is a highly weakened Iran, and there are growing alliances between our Sunni allies and Israel.

Kerry would continue to entertain Iranian officials even after he was out of government. When President Trump ordered the drone strike that killed the terrorist Qassem Suleimani, a man who masterminded the killing of American soldiers and thousands of Iraqi civilians, Kerry said the world was in “no way at all” safer, and claimed that Trump was risking an “outright war.” All Iran did was launch a performative counterstrike.

Kerry was wrong about Iran. Kerry was also wrong about Israel—a nation he doesn’t ever seem to consider an “ally” in his speeches about Obama’s alleged foreign-policy successes. And when the U.S. embassy was about to be moved to Jerusalem, Kerry warned it would lead to “an explosion” in the Middle East—more specifically, “an absolute explosion in the region, not just in the West Bank and perhaps even in Israel itself, but throughout the region.” Moreover, Kerry declared, it would have a serious and negative repercussions on relations between Israel and the Arab world, making peace far less likely. . . . Of course, outside of some typical Palestinian noise, the opposite has happened.

Read more at National Review

More about: Iran, John Kerry, Middle East, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy, 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