December 29, 2020
The Israel-Arab Alliance: Biden’s greatest opportunity for a foreign relations triumph
Dear Friend of FLAME:
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, with four peace or normalization
agreements signed between the State of Israel and Arab countries, there is
unprecedented momentum in the Middle East toward a more peaceful future in
one of the globe’s most treacherous regions. This is not only good
for the peoples of that area, but also vital to America’s interests.
First, American allies, such as Israel and the pragmatic Sunni regimes in
the region, are now officially on the same side and increasingly finding
common ground. This clears the path for American diplomats to create new realities that better serve U.S. interests.
Second, a new robust and open coalition, robust and open coalition against Iran and its
imperial ambitions has emerged in the Middle East. Every agreement between
Israel and one of its Sunni neighbors is seen negatively in Tehran by the
Ayatollah regime. This strengthens the forces of moderation against the forces of extremism, which extend from Iran through
Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Palestinian terrorist groups.
This favorable geopolitical situation is clearly an achievement for
outgoing President Donald Trump—one that undoes years of American
failures in the region, especially our inability to curtail Iran’s
dangerous influence, which has cast a pall on the entire Middle East and
beyond. But it’s also a momentous opportunity for the Biden
administration to achieve lasting peace and stability.
Indeed, it would be an error if Biden’s team did not build on this
momentum and instead were to attempt to turn back the clock to the Obama
years—an impossible task given all that’s transpired. The last
thing the region needs is for the U.S. to pressure and distance itself from
our allies Israel and Saudi Arabia, while simultaneously coddling and bribing Iran, thus emboldening violent forces in the
With President-elect Biden expressing his desire to reenter the Joint
Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran nuclear
deal, it is important that America’s allies in the region be
consulted. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and of course Israel are all
threatened—not just by Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program,
but also from the Islamic Republic’s proxies in the region,
whether those be the Houthis in Yemen or Hizballah in Lebanon.
In the past, disastrously, the focus of diplomatic consultation on
Obama’s Iran deal was predominantly Western-oriented. The signatories
to the JCPOA, in addition to Iran, were France, United Kingdom, United
States, and Germany together with the European Union, plus Russia and
China. The next Administration should seek to add Saudi Arabia and Israel to the circle of signatories or at least
give them a place at the table. Consulting with those most threatened by
Iran—and affected by any deal—is not just wise, it is
America’s allies in the region understand that Iran’s nuclear
weapons program is just a means to the end—the end being continuation of its Islamist revolution and regional dominance.
Creating a nuclear weapon is one way of achieving that goal, while arming
its proxies to attack its adversaries and wreak havoc in the region is
just another way of achieving its goals. Both paths should equally be
denied the Islamic Republic.
President-elect Biden should seek to enlarge the terms of the agreement to
ensure that Iran’s belligerent behavior becomes the focus and not
just the nuclear weapons program. One of the biggest critiques of the 2015
deal was that the agreement did little to curtail Iran’s malevolent shadow on the region.
In the first year after the agreement, U.S. Director of National
Intelligence James Clapper testified that "Iran—the foremost state
sponsor of terrorism—continues to exert its influence in regional
crises in the Middle East through the International Revolutionary Guard
Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), its terrorist partner Lebanese Hezbollah, and
proxy groups . . . Iran and Hezbollah remain a continuing terrorist threat to U.S. interests and partners
worldwide." A month later, CENTCOM chief Gen. Joseph Votel testified that
Iran had become "more aggressive in the days since the agreement."
The U.S., along with its regional allies, should insert forceful clauses in
the agreement that forbid Iran from assisting entities recognized by the
State Department as terrorist organizations, like Kataib Hezbollah (KH) in
Iraq, Hizballah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the Houthi rebel groups—the
latter of which President Trump is considering adding as a designated
terrorist organization. It should make these clauses central to Iranian
compliance and any evidence demonstrating Iranian supply of weapons or resources to known terrorist
organizations should ensure a harsh sanctions regime.
Iran’s threats in the Persian Gulf should also be restricted in any
deal. Its bellicose actions in recent years and threats to close the Strait
of Hormuz have massively upset gas and oil shipping lanes, which have a huge effect on American consumers by the rising of prices.
This has long been a tool for Iran to threaten the world in general and the
West in particular against taking steps considered too harsh against the
Iranians, and must be denied them. The U.S. should back a more forceful
approach in the Persian Gulf and have a regular presence there, patrolling
along with its allies, bringing a zero-tolerance approach to
Iran’s attempts at disruption.
The Biden administration’s intentions to reengage with Iran and the
international community is certainly not a categorical mistake. Indeed, the
effort has potential to achieve historic results for the Middle East
and globally—while at the same time dramatically advancing U.S.
influence. However, we must heed history’s lessons and make and any
future Iran deal far more comprehensive and robust—one that takes
into account, first and foremost its regional allies.
Recent normalization agreements between Israel and the Gulf states make
this far easier, since former opponents and adversaries in the
region can now sit down on the same side of the table, as the recent
trilateral meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
(MBS) at the Red Sea town Neom amply demonstrates.
Ironically—and unintentionally—the original Iran deal brought
Israel and the Sunni states together in opposition to the agreement. Now,
President-elect Biden has the opportunity to create the greatest era of peace the Middle East has ever known, particularly
since its re-formation following World War II.
Please explain to your friends, family and colleagues---and in letters to the editor---that by ensuring a wise diplomatic policy of regional engagement, Biden could
bring together even more nations in the region by enlarging the circle of participants and listening to the concerns
of those most affected by the Iran and its regional ambitions.
This could turn the failure of American diplomacy in 2015 into one of its
most illustrious achievements, by building on the four remarkable
normalization agreements the Trump Administration managed to accomplish
over recent months.
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and center, to forward this message to friends, visit FLAME's lively
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Israel is an “apartheid state.”
President, Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME)
Every year, dozens of major American colleges and universities host
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