Deal or No Deal, Iran Has Already Won

Regardless of whether the U.S. and Iran reach an interim deal on nuclear weapons by the November 24 deadline, American interests will have been severely compromised. Since the beginning of Barack Obama’s presidency, writes Lee Smith, the U.S. has made a string of concessions to the Islamic Republic, hoping vainly to win it over, while the latter has continued to sponsor terror, further develop its nuclear program, and violate its own commitments. By now, America has forfeited its own bargaining position:

It’s instructive to recall that very early in his presidency Barack Obama promised that the military option was still on the table, if all else failed to stop the Iranians from building a bomb. The concern, as White House officials warned back then, was that strikes—American or Israeli—on Iranian nuclear facilities might cause Tehran to retaliate against American targets in the region, especially U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Never mind that the Iranian regime was already responsible for thousands of American deaths, and tens of thousands of wounded, in those two theaters. What’s telling is that the White House saw the U.S. military not as the guardian of American interests, the best friend of American allies, and the dread enemy of American adversaries, but as potential hostages. In other words, Obama was keen to forfeit his advantages from the outset of his dealings with Iran. In due course, he would trade away American leverage and get nothing in return.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Barack Obama, Iran, Iran sanctions, Israel

The Possible Death of Mohammad Deif, and What It Means

On Saturday, Israeli jets destroyed a building in southern Gaza, killing a Hamas brigade commander named Rafa Salameh. Salameh is one of the most important figures in the Hamas hierarchy, but he was not the primary target. Rather it was Mohammad Deif, who is Yahya Sinwar’s number-two and is thought to be the architect and planner of numerous terrorist attacks, of Hamas’s tunnel network, and of the October 7 invasion itself. Deif has survived at least five Israeli attempts on his life, and the IDF has consequently been especially reluctant to confirm that he had been killed. Yet it seems that it is possible, and perhaps likely, that he was.

Kobi Michael notes that Deif’s demise would have major symbolic value and, moreover, deprive Hamas of important operational know-how. But he also has some words of caution:

The elimination of Deif becomes even more significant given the current reality of severe damage to Hamas’s military wing and its transition to terrorism and guerrilla warfare. However, it is important to remember that organizations such as Hamas and Hizballah are more than the sum of their components or commanders. Israel has previously eliminated the leaders of these organizations and other very senior military figures, and yet the organizations continued to grow, develop, and become more significant security threats to Israel, while establishing their status as political players in the Palestinian and Lebanese arenas.

As for the possibility that Deif’s death will harden Hamas’s position in the hostage negotiations, Tamir Hayman writes:

In my opinion, even if there is a bump in the road now, it is not a strategic one. The reasons that Hamas decided to compromise its demands in the [hostage] deal stem from the operational pressure it is under [and] the fear that the pressure exerted by the IDF will increase.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas