American Weakness and Iranian Missiles Are Pushing the Gulf States into the Arms of China

By developing an impressive arsenal of attack drones, rockets, and cruise and ballistic missiles, the Islamic Republic has achieved a decisive advantage over its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Most importantly, the Iranians have learned how to use these weapons in concert, in ways that can overwhelm even the most sophisticated American-made defensive systems. The U.S., for its part, has shown itself reluctant to respond to Iranian aggression against its Gulf allies, or even against its own soldiers. Michael Doran and Can Kasapoğlu examine the political and strategic dimensions of this situation, which has implications for Russia and China as well as the Middle East:

The United States has the military capabilities to prevent Iran from advancing toward a nuclear bomb and to deter it from threatening its neighbors—and it can do so without sparking a major war. It has more than enough might to reassure allies such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that they can rest comfortably under the American power umbrella. What is more, these allies want to remain inside the American system. The erosion of the American order is therefore more the result of confusion in Washington than of objective shifts in global power.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been on the receiving end of sophisticated Iranian missiles and drones for around five years now. The immunity from counterattack that Iran has enjoyed has emboldened it to support Russia. Moreover, it has set America’s Gulf allies on a quest for security that, increasingly, is taking them out of the arms of the United States and into the waiting embrace of China. The week before last, the Saudi Foreign Ministry announced no less than three summit meetings among the Saudis, the Gulf States, and regional Arab countries with the Chinese, concurrent with the anticipated visit of China’s President Xi Jinping to the kingdom.

If today Venezuela were to import the Soumar, an Iranian long-range cruise missile based on the Soviet-Russian Kh-55 line of missiles, it would probably have difficulty hitting targets inside the United States. Its range will increase, however, once the [removal of sanctions and embargos under the nuclear deal] facilitates the integration of Western components. Cities such as Miami and New Orleans will easily fall into the crosshairs of the anti-American regime in Caracas, posing a direct strategic threat to the American homeland.

China now holds the balance between Iran and the Gulf States with respect to the very weapons that give Iran its disruptive military edge. Xi Jinping has managed to insinuate China into the balance of power between America’s Gulf allies and Iran.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: China, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy, United Arab Emirates

What Israel Can Offer Africa

Last week, the Israeli analyst Yechiel Leiter addressed a group of scholars and diplomats gathered in Addis Ababa to discuss security issues facing the Horn of Africa. Herewith, some excerpts from his speech:

Since the advent of Zionism and the birth of modern Israel, there has been a strong ideological connection between Israel and the African continent. . . . For decades, [however], the notion that the absence of peace in the Middle East was due the absence of Palestinian statehood prevented a full and strategic partnership with African countries. . . . The visits to Africa by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—in 2016 to East Africa and in 2017 to West Africa—reenergized the natural partnership that was initiated by Israel’s Foreign Minister Golda Meir in the 1960s.

There is much we share, many places where our interests converge. And I don’t mean another military base in Djibouti. . . . One such area involves the safety of waterways in and around the Red Sea. Curtailing contraband, drugs, arms smuggling, and other forms of serious corruption are all vital for us. . . . But the one critical area of cooperation I’d like to put the spotlight on is in the realm of food security, or rather food insecurity.

Imagine Ethiopia’s cows producing 30 or 40 liters of milk a day instead of the two or three that they produce today. Imagine an exponential rise in (organic) meat exports to Middle Eastern and even European countries, the result of increased processing, storage, and transportation possibilities. Cows today can have a microscopic chip behind their ears that sends messages to the farmer’s computer or mobile phone that tracks what the cow ate, what its temperature is, and what care it might need. Imagine a dramatic expansion of the wheat yield that can make Ethiopia a net exporter of wheat—to Egypt, perhaps in the context of negotiations over the waters of the Nile.

Israel has proven technology in all of these agricultural areas and we’re here; we’re neighbors. We are linked to Africa, particularly the Horn of Africa, in so many ways.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Africa, Ethiopia, Israel diplomacy, Israeli agriculture, Israeli technology