The U.S. and Europe Must Punish the Islamic Republic for Its Support for Russia

Since September at least, Russian forces have been using Iranian-manufactured “kamikaze” drones to attack Ukraine. Moscow also expects Tehran to deliver short-range ballistic missiles that it can put to similar use—a clear violation of the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2231, passed in 2015. Behnam Ben Taleblu and Andrea Stricker comment:

The United States, as well as Britain, France, and Germany (the “E3”), have decried the Iranian drone transfers as a violation of resolution 2231. The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, as well as the EU Council, sanctioned three Iranian persons and one entity supporting Tehran’s drone efforts. Yet America and the E3 could penalize Iran’s violations and prevent them from becoming legal internationally by triggering the reimposition of UN sanctions that were lifted by the Iran nuclear deal—but they have failed to do so. This is in spite of the fact that Iran is in flagrant non-compliance with the atomic accord and, during eighteen months of talks, has refused to revive it.

Iran’s expanding arms-proliferation radius reflects the lack of constraint the Islamic Republic feels from the Biden administration’s overall Iran policy. Iranian drones are not just a Middle Eastern battlefield phenomenon—as they can be found as far away as Venezuela, Ethiopia, and now among Russia’s forces in Ukraine.

With protests raging across Iran and Tehran’s support for Putin’s imperial war in Ukraine deepening, the Biden administration should seize the opportunity to reset the chessboard against the Islamic Republic. Step one requires recognizing that Iranian weapons proliferation will increase so long as Washington sits on the sidelines.

Read more at The Hill

More about: Iran, Joe Biden, U.S. Foreign policy, War in Ukraine

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