Losing Faith in the U.S., the Gulf States Are Turning to Its Enemies

Yesterday, the Iranian foreign ministry announced an upcoming visit from the emir of Qatar—a country recently designated a “major non-NATO ally” by Washington. Such a move is typical of Doha’s diplomatic approach, as Danielle Pletka explains:

Almost alone in the Middle East, the small emirate of Qatar has managed to walk the balance beam between powerful actors: housing a key U.S. air base, al-Udeid, and enjoying a defense pact and major non-NATO ally status with the United States, all the while maintaining friendly relations with Iran; hosting senior leaders of U.S.-designated terrorist groups including Hamas, the Taliban, and assorted other terrorist actors; and continuing to finance and promote Al Jazeera, a vast media network that routinely pushes anti-Israel, anti-U.S., pro-Iran, and pro-Muslim Brotherhood messaging.

This strategy has in the recent past put Qatar at odds with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other Gulf states. But that’s changing, as these countries have dipped their toes in reconciliation with Iran and its Syrian client state while working to improve relations with Russia and China. Pletka writes:

For Washington’s traditional Gulf partners, particularly the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain, everything revolves around the question of who will defend them against Iran and its proxies. In the Obama era, the answer was clear in their minds: the United States would be on Iran’s side. . . . But many believed Obama was an aberration. Hope revived in the Trump era, but it quickly became clear after Iranian-sponsored attacks on key Saudi oil facilities that even the most virulent of Iran’s foes in the White House would not spring to Riyadh’s defense. Needless to say, Biden’s team—peopled by former Obama administration officials and a vice-president who made denouncing Saudi Arabia a key element of her foreign policy—would not be an improvement. Thus solidified the Gulf’s era of hedging.

Tehran’s willingness to take advantage of Gulf hedging is a shrewd strategy. It doesn’t signify any alteration in Iran’s overall ambitions for itself and its proxies, but it does underscore a willingness to play the game that Qatar copyrighted. And in the short term, that willingness may diminish the open war of attrition between the region’s Sunnis and Shiites and cement in place Iran’s hegemony over Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen. More importantly for the United States, it means an almost complete loss of influence in the region.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Barack Obama, Gulf Cooperation Council, Iran, Joseph Biden, Kamala Harris, Qatar, U.S. Foreign policy


Why Saturday Was a Resounding Defeat for Iran

Yaakov Lappin provides a concise and useful overview of what transpired on Saturday. For him, the bottom line is this:

Iran and its jihadist Middle Eastern axis sustained a resounding strategic defeat. . . . The fact that 99 percent of the threats were intercepted means that a central pillar of Iranian force projection—its missile and UAV arsenals—has been proven to be no match for Israel’s air force, for its multilayered air-defense system, or for regional cooperation with allies.

Iran must now await Israel’s retaliation, and unlike Israel, Iranian air defenses are by comparison limited in scope. After its own failure on Sunday, Iran now relies almost exclusively on Hizballah for an ability to threaten Israel.

And even as Iran continues to work on developing newer and deadlier missiles, the IDF is staying a few steps ahead:

Israel is expecting its Iron Beam laser-interception system, which can shoot down rockets, mortars, and UAVs, to become operational soon, and is developing an interceptor (Sky Sonic) for Iran’s future hypersonic missile (Fattah), which is in development.

The Iron Beam will change the situation in a crucial way. Israell’s defensive response on Saturday reportedly cost it around $1 billion. While Iron Beam may have to be used in concert with other systems, it is far cheaper and doesn’t run the risk of running out of ammunition.

Read more at JNS

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Iron Dome, Israeli Security, Israeli technology