(Previously published in The Jerusalem Post)
This is to Israel’s great detriment, as Iran is Israel’s number one existential threat.
“Iran would like to build nuclear weapons. The only people Teheran is fooling at this point are people who want to be fooled.”
– Georgetown Professor Matthew Kroenig, former Iran expert at the Pentagon
While the long-term results and consequences of Operation Protective Edge will not be known for months or even years, the clear winner of this war is already known: Iran. This is to Israel’s great detriment, as Iran is Israel’s number one existential threat.
The summer has been a blessing for Iran. While the international community focused on the breakdown of the Israeli-Palestinian talks in May, on the kidnappings in June, and on Operation Protective Edge in July and August, Iranian centrifuges continued to spin.
Almost no one blinked an eye when the P5+1 nuclear talks were extended in July. Iran cannot believe its good fortune.
One of the Iranian regime’s primary goals is to find new ways to deflect international attention from its relentless march to a nuclear weapon. Iran was already betting that the Obama administration had zero interest in any military confrontation. Ayatollah Khamenei said the US had “renounced the idea of any military actions.” Indeed, Iran is still counting on the Obama administration to take a nuclear “deal” disguised as a Trojan horse, and call it a diplomatic victory.
Operation Protective Edge allowed Hezbollah to remain on the sidelines, content to confront Israel whenever Iran gives the word, especially if such a confrontation deflects attention from Iranian intransigence in future nuclear talks. As if that was not enough, talk of Israel committing alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip will continue to focus the world’s attention on Israel through international commissions like the UNHRC, which will move the Iranian talks off the front page.
Iran is also confident that the rest of the members of the P5+1 will be more than happy to throw Israel under the bus for billions in potential Iranian trade and oil. They have absolutely no moral compunction about dealing with the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, treating Iran as a welcomed member of the family of nations.
These are just some of Iran’s actions that went under the mainstream media’s radar this summer: • July 8 – Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran needs 190,000 centrifuges, nearly 20 times the amount the p5+1 offered.
- July 20 – The P5+1 extended by four months the deadline to conclude a nuclear agreement, while releasing over $2 billion to Iran.
- July 30 – Chief US nuclear negotiator Wendy Sherman declared that a nuclear deal can be signed without congressional approval. The New York Times disclosed that Obama “administration officials [are] strongly hinting that they have little intention of complying” with Congress on Iran. The administration will claim that what will be negotiated with the Iranians will not be a treaty.
Moreover, the Obama team believes it has the power to waive congressionally imposed sanctions.
- August 5 – Iran admits it armed Hamas with advanced Fajr 5 missiles.
Even Sherman acknowledged Iran supplied missiles to an American-designated terrorist organization, but there was no condemnation from the administration – nor was there any impact to or the nuclear negotiations.
- August 11 – Majid Takht-Ravanchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for American and European Affairs, said that Iran would not accept a limited enrichment program.
- August 11 – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani practiced taddiyah, Islamic religiously sanctioned deception, by chastising Iranian hardliners. While the West lauded Iran for converting much of its 20% enriched uranium, Iran’s advanced centrifuges make possession of 20% uranium irrelevant. Iran can convert 3% non-enriched uranium to 90% nuclear grade uranium in six to eight weeks with advanced centrifuges.
Right now Iran has enough 3% uranium to produce between six to eight nuclear bombs.
- August 18 – Iran confirmed that it would never negotiate about its missile program, according to an account of a meeting between President Rouhani and International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano. The missile program is integral to an offensive nuclear weapon threat and needed for regional hegemony.
- August 22 – Arab and anti-Israel states, the vast majority of the UN, announce they will seek approval of a General Assembly Resolution claiming Israel’s nuclear weapons are one of the main threats to peace in the region.
The Middle East is exploding with new and lethal threats almost every day. From ISIS to Hamas, from Syria to Turkey, from Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood, the Sunni Islamist tsunami is a danger to both Israel and the West. But Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its quest for regional hegemony remain the greatest threats – to the West and to Israel – whether or not Iran currently gets the most air time, newsprint or blog space. It is time for the West to put Iran back at the top of the Middle East’s “To Do” list.
The writer, an MD, is founder and director of MEPIN, the Middle East Political and Information Network.