How America Emboldened Iran in Yemen

On Tuesday, Houthi rebels in Yemen fired six ballistic missiles at commercial ships, one of which was shot down by a U.S. naval cruiser. It thus seems that the intensification of British and American attacks on the Iran-backed group’s military infrastructure has neither crippled nor deterred it. Noam Raydan and Grant Rumley explain how Washington’s timidity brought this situation about:

If the United States had responded to the Houthis’ attacks in November by immediately going after weapons stockpiles, missile launchers, and radar stations, it would have demonstrated U.S. resolve while seriously degrading the Houthis’ ability to continue their assault. Admittedly, Washington would have given the group the fight it wanted: the Houthis derive legitimacy from standing up to the United States and, by extension, Israel. But a quicker, more decisive strike against the Houthis’ military infrastructure would have had the practical effect of making it difficult for the group to conduct a prolonged campaign, regardless of its ambitions.

If the United States had struck earlier, the current U.S.-Houthi conflict might have looked more like an episode between the two states from seven years earlier.

In that instance, a swift and robust American response reestablished deterrence.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Iran, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy