China Seems Poised to Offer Iran More Weapons and Cyberwarfare Assistance

Last month, the Chinese minister of defense, together with senior military figures, paid a visit to Tehran, where they met with their Iranian counterparts, as well as with the Iranian president. Tuvia Gering and Jason M. Brodsky doubt the talks will result in a grand Sino-Iranian alliance, but they nonetheless expect increased collaboration between the two countries. For many years, they note, Beijing has evaded or violated embargoes to sell arms to the Islamic Republic, and there’s reason to expect more of the same:

In March 2010, [for instance], it was reported that Iran started manufacturing the Chinese-designed Nasr-1 anti-ship missile. Just four years prior, during the 2006 Lebanon War, four Israeli navy soldiers were killed by an Iranian derivative of the Chinese C-802 subsonic anti-ship cruise missile launched by the Iranian proxy, Hizballah. . . .

With the possibility of the nuclear deal being resurrected, enabling Tehran to gain greater access to funds, the arms trade could become a growing concern for Washington and its allies. Some analysts have ruled out the likelihood of China becoming a significant arms exporter to Iran in the post-embargo period, but as the Lebanon War and recent bombings illustrate, Chinese technology in the wrong hands can be destructive.

Military support is also measured in ways other than tangible weapons. For one, cyberwarfare is an integral component of Iran’s arsenal, and Beijing pledged to expand cyber cooperation during Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian’s January visit to Wuxi. China is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to cyberattacks and military and industrial espionage. Countries throughout the region have documented high-profile cases involving Chinese hackers, including a widespread campaign of cyber espionage against Israel, the constant targeting of its defense industry, and the inadvertent sabotage of a medical center’s computer system.

Read more at Middle East Institute

More about: China, Cyberwarfare, Iran, Israel-China relations, Israeli Security

 

What Israel Can Achieve in Gaza, the Fate of the Hostages, and Planning for the Day After

In a comprehensive analysis, Azar Gat concludes that Israel’s prosecution of the war has so far been successful, and preferable to the alternatives proposed by some knowledgeable critics. (For a different view, see this article by Lazar Berman.) But even if the IDF is coming closer to destroying Hamas, is it any closer to freeing the remaining hostages? Gat writes:

Hamas’s basic demand in return for the release of all the hostages—made clear well before it was declared publicly—is an end to the war and not a ceasefire. This includes the withdrawal of the IDF from the Gaza Strip, restoration of Hamas’s control over it (including international guarantees), and a prisoner exchange on the basis of “all for all.”

Some will say that there must be a middle ground between Hamas’s demands and what Israel can accept. However, Hamas’s main interest is to ensure its survival and continued rule, and it will not let go of its key bargaining chip. Some say that without the return of the hostages—“at any price”—no victory is possible. While this sentiment is understandable, the alternative would be a resounding national defeat. The utmost efforts must be made to rescue as many hostages as possible, and Israel should be ready to pay a heavy price for this goal; but Israel’s capitulation is not an option.

Beyond the great cost in human life that Israel will pay over time for such a deal, Hamas will return to rule the Gaza Strip, repairing its infrastructure of tunnels and rockets, filling its ranks with new recruits, and restoring its defensive and offensive arrays. This poses a critical question for those suggesting that it will be possible to restart the war at a later stage: have they fully considered the human toll should the IDF attempt to reoccupy the areas it would have vacated in the Gaza Strip?

Although Gat is sanguine about the prospects of the current campaign, he throws some cold water on those who hope for an absolute victory:

Militarily, it is possible to destroy Hamas’s command, military units, and infrastructure as a semi-regular military organization. . . . After their destruction in high-intensity fighting, the IDF must prevent Hamas from reviving by continuous action on the ground. As in the West Bank, this project will take years. . . . What the IDF is unlikely to achieve is the elimination of Hamas as a guerrilla force.

Lastly, Gat has some wise words about what will happen to Gaza after the war ends, a subject that has been getting renewed attention since Benjamin Netanyahu presented an outline of a plan to the war cabinet on Thursday. Gat argues that, contrary to the view of the American and European foreign-policy elite, there is no political solution for Gaza. After all, Gaza is in the Middle East, where “there are no solutions, . . . only bad options and options that are much worse.”

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security