Sunday, February 15, 2009

Where Obama's New Policy In The Middle East Is Headed

There's a report bubbling under the wire that the Obama Administration has decided to eliminate or severely limit sanctions against Iran as part of an outreach to the Islamic Republic.

The report comes from GeoStrategy Direct, one of those 'subscriber only' intelligence journals put out by the World Tribune which in itself makes me cautious, given that World Tribune's record for credibility and accuracy is somewhat mixed.

To summarize, the report cites unnamed sources and claims that Obama has decided to end sanctions against Iranian government agencies or companies that assist Teheran's missile and nuclear programs because the sanctions weren't working and because the administration's new policy is dialogue with the Mullahs.

It further uses some remarks by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak at the recent Herzliya Conference as 'confirmation' of this new policy:

"We must arrive at a strategic understanding with the United States over Iran's military nuclear program and ensure that even if at this time they opt for the diplomatic option, it will only last a short time before harsh and necessary sanctions are imposed," Barak said.

Aside from the fact that I personally wouldn't believe much of anything that came out of Ehud Barak's mouth unless it was accompanied by a group of seraphim and a trumpet fanfare direct from G-d, what this quote essentially says is nothing new, but merely what we all know anyway - that the Obama Administration is now pursuing a diplomatic track with Iran.

As long time readers of Joshua's Army know, I have my own sources in the area that tend to be both fairly accurate and fairly close to the action, and more importantly, I have the ability to look at the pieces and see how they go together which is why my track record here has been reasonably good. Let's examine a few of these pieces, see where they lead and attempt to get a read on what might be around the corner.

The first piece of the puzzle is that Iran has an 'election' coming up, and that The Iranian Supreme Council of Guardians headed by Khameinei (who really make all the decisions) may give permission for Muhammed Khatami to run for the presidency against Ahmadinejad.

Khatami has a reputation in the West as being a 'moderate', although in Iran that's a relative term, to say the least. Khatami is just as much in favor of Iran warring with the Great Satan and nuking Israel as Ahmadinejad, but he's simply a bit more circumspect and less up front about it. In any event, like Ahmadinejad, he'll simply be a mouthpiece for the Mullahs if he's allowed to run - and he wins.

If that happens however, it would definitely signal that the Mullahs are willing to deal on certain issues,but NOT on their nuclear weapons program. They've made that crystal clear many times.

That the sanctions aren't working has been crystal clear for a long time and they're a failure, just as I predicted long ago. The Russians, the Chinese and certain European countries simply won't bother to observe them.

I think there is a good chance Iran likely has nuclear weapons already, or is tantalizingly close to both manufacturing the warheads and refining the method of their delivery. A bitter side note to this is the current Administration changing their tune on the farcical New Intelligence Estimate on Iran,which was their major aria during the campaign. Then, the song was that Iran was not really seeking to acquire nuclear weapons,and Bush and the evil Neocon fascists in his White House were just trying to gin up another war. Now that they're in power, the Democrats have changed the lyrics completely, saying that yes, Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons..and more of the same diplomacy that's been failing for the last 6 years will talk them out of it!

Thus I doubt that the Obama administration made a huge deal of `repealing sanctions' against Iran. It would make no difference anyway, especially since Iran can now get most of the American materials it wants through its ally, Syria.

And here's the second piece of the puzzle: look for the Obama Administration to devote a great deal of time and effort to Obama crony Tony Rezco's old homeland, Syria. Senator John Kerry, who's now the Democrat chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be in Damascus next week, the first representative of the new US administration to openly meet with Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

Here's the way the deal points stack up. The Obama Administration still has fantasies of moving Syria out of Iran's orbit and wants to normalize relations with Syria because Assad is working to convince them that not only is Syria the perfect conduit between the US and Iran but the key to the Palestinian Hamas/Fatah unity government the Obama Administration wants and a means of controlling Hezbollah in Lebanon.

In other words, Assad plans to milk the Obama Administration's desire to peel Syria away from Iran for as much as he can get while while doing as little as possible.

Aside from commercial relations and US aid that would revitalize Syria's moribund economy, Assad has another important game going on - he wants the UN tribunal on the Hariri assassination buried.

For those of you whom have forgotten, there is an ongoing UN investigation into the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005, plus a lot of other Lebanese politicians. And the evidence collected thus far directly links prominent members of the Assad regime - including members of Assad's own family - to the murders.

The evidence collected by UN prosecutors has now been flown to the the Hague,Netherlands ready for an indictment. Assad has done everything possible to delay things, even getting a Syrian tool,Michel Suleiman appointed to the Lebanese presidency, but the investigation is looking grim for Assad and getting this quashed is a primary motivation for him.

The US apparently eased sanctions on Syria as an opening gambit.

Another piece of the puzzle concerns the Palestinians.Contrary to Obama's rhetoric on the subject, I don't see the Obama Administration making negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians anything like a major focus for at least the first year of Obama's presidency.

There are much more pressing problems for Obama in dealing with the US economy, figuring out what he plans to do about Afghanistan and Pakistan and implementing the domestic legislation designed to perpetuate the Democrat's agenda and insure Obama's re-election and the continued Democrat control of Washington at all costs.

In any case the Palestinians are divided,with an Iran backed Hamas in Gaza and a US backed Fatah in Judea and Samaria with leadership that is barely hanging on.The timing simply isn't right to put the squeeze on Israel - yet. That will come later, and it will probably be brutal.

In the meantime, Obama's main focus is on putting together a coalition government in Israel that will either knuckle under or collapse under pressure. The administration has made it clearly known that while they understand that Netanyahu will likely be Israel's next Prime Minister, they are pushing heavily for a unity government of Likud, Kadima and Labor that will essentially be under the control of Israel's Left ( 27 seats for Likud versus 41 for Kadima and Labor).

Netanyahu, frankly,is insane if he does this. Israel's Left has been marginalized and Kadima will likely disintegrate if they are not in government, with ex-Likudniks like Shaul Mofaz migrating back to Likud or at least voting along with Likud as a prelude to jumping ship at the next election.

A 'unity ' government controlled by Israel's Left would save Kadima as a viable party and block Israel's right from any decisive voice on policy, as well as disenfranchising the majority of the Israeli electorate who voted for parties on the Right.

One of the primary arguments for voting for Netanyahu and Likud advanced by their supporters was the need for the Israeli Right to unite behind a major party,an argument that was only partially successful. If Netanyahu shuts out parties like Yisrael Beiteinu and the NRP and keeps politicians like Avigdor Lieberman out of government, they will not intervene to save Netanyahu if Kadima and Labor pull out of the Israeli government over Netanyahu refusing to do their bidding on, say, dividing Jerusalem. And Likud will be as marginalized as Labor is now at the next election.

Which of course is exactly why the Obama Administration is pushing so hard to get Kadima and Labor back into power.They have plans for Israel in a year or so.

In the meantime, the US will continue to throw millions at the Palestinians, keep General Keith Dayton in Ramallah training the Fatah security forces and concentrate on other more pressing matters.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how Mr. Barak expects the US to put together harsh sanctions against Iran right now or at any time in the foreseeable future. The US does not have the kind of power that would be necessary to do this right now.

Why would Syria want aid and commerical relations with the United States right now and how would this revitalize Syria's supposedly moribound economy? The US econcomy is moribound itself and the value of the dollar is falling rapidly. Given this situation and the fact that US commercial interests are struggling mightly themselves I simply don't see how or why Syria would be interested in commercial relations with America or with American foreign aid.

Any American influence on the Israeli election outcome would have to be at the insistence and assistance of key Israeli political interests. America influences the politics of other countries and other countries influence the American political system. This is no big surprise.

America is in no position to put brutal pressure on Israel right now and America's position is likely to be even weaker in the foreseeable future. The American military desparately needs to be "reset" as Senator McCain said. This is a diplomatic way of saying the military is virtually broken and needs to be fixed. The economy is struggling and Obama's stimulus package will likely make it worse. The national debt is massive and again Obama's stimulus package will make it worse.

In a year from now Obama's ability to put "brutal pressure" on Israel will be even less than it is now. The unemployment rate right now is about 7.6%. By this time next year it will be around 20 to 25%. The dollar will have lost at least half of its value. The Chinese and others will have dumped their dollar holdings. In other words we will be looking at massive inflation along with massive unemploymnet. I would look for Russia, China, Iran, and Islamic terrorist groups to act in ways to capitalize on this situation. With all of this happening Obama will be in a desparte fight for his political survival. There will be no time and no ability to brutally pressure Israel or anyone else.

Keep in mind I DO NOT want the things mentioned in the previous paragraph to happen. I pray they don't, however, this would be the logical result of the continuation of the boneheaded policies of the Obama administration. Obama, his team, and his allies in Congress and the news media must be brought to their senses some how.

In contrast to America's position, Israel's long term position looks bright. With the recent natural gas find, in time, this will give Israel some leverage over its enemies. What Israel should do is begin to chart a course for its policies that are completely separate from America. The countries it needs to concern itself with are Russia, China, Iran, and possibly the EU.

I'm aware of the arguments made by Freedom Fighter and others that Russia faces a declining birth rate and in a few years may not exist as we know it. These arguments are valid, however, in the here and now Russia is the most powerful nation on earth followed by China. As for foreign threats, Israel needs to keep a close eye on them. As for Aemrica, if its leaders are dumb enough to threaten Israel militarily, the better trained, better led, and technologically superior IDF would quickly defeat Aemrican forces. I pray it does not come to that.

In an optimal world Israel and America would work together to defeat a common enemy with Israel taking the lead in the fight.