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New IDF strategy dismisses Iran nuclear threat

Posted on August 17, 2015 at 8:35 PM

United States, Al-Monitor

On Aug. 14, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot issued “IDF Strategy,” a precedential, perhaps even historical, document. It marks the first time that the strategic program of the IDF has been released to the public, in a censored version. Operational data and numbers only appear in the classified version. This document outlines the IDF's objectives and missions, states how its successes or failures will be defined and identifies what modes of action are needed to achieve success.

The report exemplifies the maturity of the IDF, which after quite a few formative experiences, has finally internalized the reality that the old world is no longer. The era of speedy victories has ceased to exist, as have some of Israel’s old enemies and the entire old Middle East. We are in a new era, and we should adjust our expectations, as well as our forces, accordingly.

Commentators have marveled that the Iranian nuclear threat is barely mentioned in the document. According to the chief of staff, that threat is currently not sufficiently relevant to be included in the IDF's strategy for the next five years. The threat can be shelved for a decade or two. The document also confirms something published in Al-Monitor a few weeks ago: that the IDF top brass are far less melodramatic about the Iranian threat than Israel’s highest political echelons, i.e., Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and some of his ministers. Instead, the IDF is much more concerned about potential Iranian involvement in considerable proportions of terror acts against Israel along the length of its various borders.

Israel’s map of threats, which once included a list of states, now contains a list of organizations: Islamic State (IS), Hamas, Hezbollah and so on. The IDF has updated its mode of action and battle order accordingly. Much effort has been invested in its ability to fly large forces to distant sites on aircraft with “high survivability” to carry out precision surgical strikes against consequential terror targets. All IDF special units receive high priority and are dealt with at the General Staff level, and even above-General Staff level, with regard to resource concentration, planning and inputs of non-IDF intelligence and espionage organizations, including various government ministries.

So, how are the IDF's goals now defined? Victory in its previous format is out. The new goal is “achieving diplomatic aims set for the battle in a way that will lead to the improvement of the security situation after the conflict.”

Ben Caspit

Original publication date: 8/17/2015

> Arad Nir - Netanyahu playing chess, not checkers on Iran deal

[A]t the epicenter of the campaign against the agreement, Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem, there is a growing realization that the prospects of garnering such a [two-thirds] majority to overcome a presidential veto are nil. In fact, in the words of a senior official who asked that his name be withheld, “It’s inconceivable.” Despite this assessment, the official told Al-Monitor, the prime minister does not intend to ease the pressure on Congress. He wants to enlist the support of as many opponents to the deal as possible to obtain what he calls a “resounding moral majority,” even if it's not a “veto overruling majority.” According to the source, Netanyahu argues that this same moral majority is supposed to represent the broad opposition to the agreement among the American public, which according to recent poll results encompasses nearly two-thirds of US citizens. [...]

Netanyahu is not deterred by the long list of counterarguments that are being thrown at him these days. [...] “I don’t play checkers, I play chess!” Netanyahu said in response to such questions, according to the source. He views his moves in Congress not just as a strategic-diplomatic campaign, but as a personal mission thrust upon him by the historic circumstances in which he finds himself. As far as he is concerned, all means are justified. He contemptuously waves away all the arguments directed against his approach to this issue. He regards them as reflecting the worldview of people who play checkers. (8/20)

> Uri Savir - Israel must wake up and 'recognize reality' of Iran deal

Despite the ferocious political attacks between the White House and the Israeli government, one hears from both sides positive ramblings about future relations between the two countries. Governmental spokespeople, mainly in Israel, describe the current rift over the Iranian nuclear deal as an unfortunate incident, or “accident,” in a family with genuinely good relations. This, however, is not the case, and there certainly might be long-term damage to the strategic alliance between the two countries. [...]

[T]here is much room for concern and soul-searching about the future of Israeli-US relations. This crisis demands a fundamental change in Israeli policy vis-a-vis the United States. An immediate change is called for in the prime minister’s relationship with the White House. Israel must recognize the reality of the Iran deal and work with President Obama and his national security team on its ramifications. Close cooperation is necessary for monitoring Iranian compliance with the agreement. In the immediate future, a security assistance package should be agreed upon for the supply of sophisticated defensive arms and systems.

In parallel, the two governments need to coordinate peace policies in the region based on the two-state solution and cooperation with the pragmatic Sunni axis against the fundamentalist terror groups. These elements should lead the United States and Israel to conclude a political-security partnership agreement parallel to the Iranian agreement. The first step in this direction is for the Israeli prime minister to announce that bipartisanship will be the basis for future relations with the United States and release the Jewish lobby from the plague of dual loyalty tests. (8/19)

> Akiva Eldar - Israel increasingly isolated as Iran opens up to region

If US President Barack Obama manages to overcome congressional opposition to the Iran deal, Israel will go down in history as the only country in the world that tried to rescind the international agreement endorsed unanimously by the UN Security Council. If the deal’s opponents get the upper hand, Israel will bear sole responsibility for a conflict between the United States and Iran and for dealing a serious blow to the prestige of the world’s leading superpower, a country vital to Israel’s security. [...]

How did Israel become the last bad boy standing in the campaign against the agreement? What happened to Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni states in the region that were also intimidated by the Shiite nuclear threat? Ever since the start of the negotiations between the six world powers and Tehran on its nuclear program, we had read in all the papers that the Gulf states were also swimming against the stream, right alongside Israel, opposing the agreement. Even after the agreement seemed to be a fait accompli, top officials in Jerusalem and an international bevy of acclaimed experts agreed that “Saudi Arabia is with us,” in a concerted effort to prevent Obama from signing off on a “bad agreement.” [...]

Saudi Arabia isn’t just sitting in the gallery watching Netanyahu and Obama descend into fisticuffs. Riyadh is also sending conciliatory messages to Iran. At an Aug. 10 press conference in Berlin, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said his country would be prepared to establish diplomatic relations with Iran provided Tehran stop intervening in internal Saudi affairs. The Saudi statesman said absolutely nothing about the need to rescind the nuclear agreement with Iran. Coincidentally or not, shortly thereafter the Shiite Houthi leadership in Yemen expressed its readiness to withdraw from Sanaa. According to a report in Asharq al-Awsat, the Houthis are even considering a transfer of government authority to exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansur Hadi, who is backed by the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis. (8/18)

Iran Tracker (AEI CTP) - Iran News Round Up August 19, 2015

Key takeaway: President Hassan Rouhani stated that the P5+1’s position on sanctions relief weakened during the nuclear negotiations. Senior officials marked the anniversary of the 1953 coup against Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh.

President Rouhani indicated that the P5+1 weakened its position on the schedule of sanctions relief, calling the “complete and simultaneous removal of economic sanctions” under the JCPOA a “great achievement.” Rouhani also said that Iran’s “main goal” in the negotiations focused on retaining nuclear facilities and “protecting enrichment and the right to research and development,” and that it “achieved these goals well.”

On the August 19 anniversary of the 1953 coup overthrowing Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani stressed that the Supreme Leader’s recent warnings of American attempts to “infiltrate” Iran by means of the nuclear deal should be considered “realistic and accurate.” IRGC Deputy Commander Brigadier General Hossein Salami also discussed the anniversary of the coup, claiming that Washington pursued the nuclear negotiations because its “military power against Iran lost its credibility.”

Iran News Round Up August 18, 2015

Key takeaway: Defense Minister IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan announced that Iran will sign a contract with Russia next week to purchase four S-300 surface-to-air missile “battalions.”

Defense Minister Dehghan claimed that Russia will deliver four modernized S-300 surface-to-air missile “battalions” to Iran “soon.” He also stated that Tehran is negotiating with Moscow over the purchase of fighter aircraft.

Planning and Strategic Supervision Deputy to the President Mohammad Nobakht reiterated that the nuclear agreement does not require parliamentary approval. He claimed that the agreement “does not require the approval of any institution other than the Supreme National Security Council.” Nobakht’s comments are in response to a recent letter signed by 201 lawmakers requesting that the Rouhani administration submit the nuclear deal to Parliament “as a bill.”

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denied reports that IRGC Qods Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani traveled to Russia in late July.

Iran News Round Up August 17, 2015

Key takeaway: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated that the West wanted to reach a nuclear deal with Iran in order to “infiltrate” it. He indicated that the nuclear deal “is still unsettled” as neither the Iranian Parliament nor the U.S. Congress “has adopted it yet.”

Supreme Leader Khamenei said that the West pursued a nuclear deal “to find a way to infiltrate the Islamic Republic.” He stressed that Iran “will not allow America to make economic, political, or cultural inroads into the country.” Khamenei said that the nuclear deal “is still unsettled given the fact that neither Iran nor the U.S. parliaments have adopted it yet.”

Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati called the demand for Syrian President Bashar al Assad to step aside “irrational." Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, meanwhile, met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow. Zarif stated that Russia and Iran will be able to cooperate on regional issues, because they have a “shared vision.”

Managing Editor of conservative news outlet Kayhan Hossein Shariatmadari claimed that a close analysis of Supreme Leader Khamenei’s earlier comments on the nuclear deal suggests that Khamenei “is not in any way satisfied with the nuclear deal.” In response, Cultural Media Advisor to the Commander of the IRGC Hamid Reza Moghaddam Far criticized Shariatmadari for claiming to his “audience that the Supreme Leader thinks like him…”

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