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Netanyahu: Iran is "the enemy"

12 March 2015

By Yisrael Ne'eman

In summing up Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu's speech to the US Congress at the beginning of the month, the most noteworthy phrase is "the enemy of my enemy is my enemy." Netanyahu was referring to the fact that the Obama Administration appears to be moving closer to Iran and a nuclear arms deal because Tehran is willing to do battle against the Islamic State and other fanatical Sunni Jihadi regimes or organizations. In this he correctly represented the majority of Israelis. Unfortunately much of the impact was lost because of the divisiveness caused by the timing (two weeks before the Israeli elections), lack of coordination with the mainstream Israeli political parties and the clash with the Obama Administration.

It is imperative that this point of Iranian enmity be well taken, internalized by all – especially in the West, and acted upon. Shiite Khomeinist Iran demands Israel's demise and must be taken at its word when saying so. Furthermore, the Sunni Muslim World, Arab or otherwise is an immediate primary target, as is Europe with all of its Islamic issues. America remains the "Great Satan" and Israel retains "Little Satan" status.
Iran in many ways is no better than the Islamic State. True, there are no public burnings or beheadings but there are still public hangings in Tehran. The Iranians are battling on several fronts. Foremost is Iran's Syrian ally where chemical weapons and barrel bombs are indiscriminately dropped by the Assad regime on its own civilian population. The Iranian proxy Shiite Hezbollah militia controls and enforces its control over much of Lebanon while stockpiling approximately 100,000 rockets, usually in civilian areas, for future use against Israel. The idea is to turn Lebanon into a massive human shield hostage if and most likely when a decision will be made to open a front against Israel. In Yemen the pro-Iranian Houthi overthrow of the legitimate government is causing havoc in the strategically important Bab el-Mandeb Straits region at the southern tip of the Red Sea. Yemen is moving towards civil war enhancing Iranian influence throughout the southwest Arabian Peninsula. In Gaza Iran aids Hamas through weapons procurement and endangers not only Israel but Egypt and the more moderate Sunni states. Add to this the Iranian domination of Iraq and the projection of force against the Arab Sunni Gulf states.
Iran has a ballistic missile system capable of hitting not only Israel but Europe. None of this should come as a surprise. The Islamic leadership in Iran makes clear their intentions to become a regional power and should be taken at their word. Their Islamist ideology demands an eventual global reach as well. One can expect that with the defeat of the Islamic State Iran will emerge as the dominant power in the Middle East. Realizing there is a power vacuum in the Muslim world Washington is seeking a rapprochement with Tehran for use in the future. The hope is to curtail Iranian nuclear aspirations – for the moment, while possibly gaining an ally in the future. Israeli concerns are an obstacle in the equation. The idea is that the US will guarantee Israel's security and that the Iranians will be deterred from attacking Israel despite theological and ideological imperatives to the contrary. Policy makers in Washington are depending on a rationalist approach in Tehran, not one dictated by an extremist Islamic interpretation.
The Obama Administration from the outset of its foreign policy initiatives in 2009 made it clear their intentions to bridge gaps between the West and Christendom and the Islamic World. Today this includes buying time with a ten year moratorium before Iran can break out to become a nuclear power. The hope is for the rise of a moderate Iranian regime in ten years but no can count out an extremist regime either. Obama is willing to realign American foreign policy towards Iran in the hope of bringing about a shift towards moderation in Tehran. This is risky business leaving the Gulf States and Israel increasingly vulnerable. The immediate gain for the US and its allies comes with Iranian military activism against the Islamic State through its Syrian and Iraqi proxies. The US and Europe are understandably war weary; the Iranians know this and are demanding a price for their intervention against the Islamic State. The price is deferred for a decade and will be paid when Iran becomes a nuclear threshold state. The next crisis surfaces in the second act (or quite possibly before) when Israel and the moderate Sunni Arab states face Iran in 2025.
Somehow Iran is expected to bring stability to the Middle East. Defeating the Islamic State is of enormous significance. The fact that Western and Iranian interests may coincide temporarily does not mean Tehran will accept the legitimacy of all states in the region, particularly Israel. Netanyahu is inferring that any endgame scenario must include the right of existence for all states in the region, meaning the legitimacy of the Jewish State must be ensured. Until then Iran is an enemy.
Somehow placating Iran appears to be part of an overall American global realignment where Israel is not necessarily meant to be abandoned. Unfortunately peace overtures to Iran are more important as the first step in a rapprochement between the West and this Shiite form of radical Islam. As we know from chess, it may not be intentional, but to "win" the game a player may need to sacrifice a piece or two. To make matters worse for the West there is no point of "Game Over." In a decade from now it is most likely that the world will be no less threatened by Islamic extremism (including the Iranian Shiite type) than it is today.