Avi Melamed ~ Inside The Middle East
Article’s major points:
Developments and events in the Middle East following the signing of JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action / The Iran Deal / The Iran Nuclear Deal) in July 2015, clearly indicate that the JCPOA fuels Iran’s aggressive expansion policy, and as a result, has pushed the Middle East closer to a massive regional war.
The JCPOA should not be renewed as is – it should, at minimum – be revised.
Western leaders must design and immediately implement a tough policy towards the Mullah Regime which at its core – uncompromisingly and unyieldingly – block Iran’s aggressive expansion policy in the Middle East.
The revised agreement must:
- Put restrictions on Iran’s Ballistic Missile Program
- End Iran’s aggressive expansion – either directly or through use of proxies – in other arenas in the region
- Should these demands not be met – should Iran not agree to these terms, or should Iran cease to comply with the agreed terms, then tough sanctions – with no concessions – must be applied.
Failing to stop Iran’s aggressive expansion policy will very likely result in a massive regional collision with global ramifications.
On January 12, 2018, US President Trump announced that he would not renew the waiver of sanctions which principally pertain to transactions with the Central Bank of Iran, which Congress imposed on Iran in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act – unless deficiencies in the JCPOA are addressed. “This is the last chance. In the absence of such an agreement, the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal.” He announced May 12, 2018 as the date he would announce his decision to renew the waiver or not. It has been reported that his announcement has been rescheduled for today – May 8, 2018.
Major Western powers – Germany, the UK and France, as well as the UN Secretary General, argue that the US withdrawal from the JCPOA will increase the risk of war. That argument continues the profound lack of understanding and shocking – to say the least – shortsightedness of the Western architects of the JCPOA, led by US President Barack Obama and the leaders of his negotiation team – Secretary of State John Kerry and Ambassador Wendy Sherman. President Obama’s rapprochement towards the Mullah regime – guided by the belief that such an approach would cause the Mullah regime to be cooperative, responsible and a constructive player was wishful thinking.
The following facts demonstrate that the JCPOA fueled Iran’s aggressive regional policy – thus significantly increasing the risk of war.
In October 2015 – only few months after the signing the JCPOA, IRG General Mortada Qurbani threatened that – under the order of Iran’s supreme leader ‘Ali Khamenei, 2,000 Iranian Ballistic missiles will hit Saudi Arabia.
In August 2016, Mohammad ‘Ali Falqi, a senior leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s (IRG) elite Al-Quds force, announced that the IRG is establishing a military force entitled “The Shi’ite Liberation Army” composed of Iranian and non-Iranian Shi’ites. The army will be placed in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. The mission of “The Shi’ite Liberation Army” will be to act as a military force in the service of Iran in arenas throughout the region according to Iran needs and interests. In addition, in accordance with the order of Iran’s supreme leader, ‘Ali Khamenei, the army will be based along the Israel-Syria borders for a period of 23 years. This time frame corresponds with ‘Ali Khamenei’s, announcement in 2015 that Israel will not exist in 25 years.
Since the signing of the JCPOA, Iran’s aggressive expansion plan has increased and escalated in different arenas including:
Yemen – According to a January 2018 UN report, Iran has violated UNSC resolutions 2216 and 2231 by sending weapons, including missiles, to Yemen.
Dozens of Iranian-made ballistic missiles have been launched by the Iranian backed Shi’ite Houthi militias in Yemen targeting Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates naval vessels have been attacked while trying to enforce a blockade designed to prevent the transfer of more artillery and missiles to the Houthis.
On February 9, 2018 the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence issued an alert warning commercial vessels about the risk of mines in the Bab al-Mandeb Strait: “The U.S. Government has reason to believe in late January, mines were laid by Houthi rebels in Yemeni territorial waters in the Red Sea close to the mouth of Mocha Harbor.”
The increasingly aggressive involvement of Iran in Yemen alarms Egypt, which has kept a relatively mild position towards Iran’s expansion in the region. On April 15, 2018 during the 29th Arab League Summit Egypt’s President, Abd al-Fatah al-Sisi declared that Egypt will not tolerate the shooting of missiles on Saudi Arabia from Yemen. Egypt also made it clear that any threat to shipping in the Bab al-Mandeb Strait is a severe threat to Egypt’s national security and will be a cause for a war.
Syria – In February 2017, the leader of the Iranian backed Iraqi Shi’ite militia, Harakat al-Nujaba, fighting in Syria in the service of Iran, openly threatened to initiate a war against Israel to “liberate the occupied Golan Heights.” That threat was followed by the Militia’s spokesman’s announcement in March 2017 that Harakat al-Nujaba Militia had established a military force named “The Brigade for the Liberation of the Golan.”
On February 10, 2018 Iranian Revolutionary Guards operating in Syria launched an Iranian drone loaded with explosives from Syria into Israeli territory. Israel intercepted the drone and it landed in Israeli territory. Israeli jets then then destroyed the Syrian-based Iranian Command and Control Center from which the drone had been launched. The Syrian anti-air defense system responded by attacking the Israeli jets and launching a dozen – perhaps dozens – of surface-to-air missiles. That massive attack downed an Israeli jet which crashed in Israeli territory. The pilots survived the crash. Following the downing of the Israeli jet, the Israeli air force attacked twelve (perhaps more) Syrian and Iranian military targets in Syria, reportedly causing substantial damage to the Syrian surface-to-air defense batteries, ammunition compounds and military headquarters, and resulted in an unknown number of fatalities and injuries to Iranian and Syrian soldiers. This was the first direct Israeli – Iranian military collision, and it further boosted Israel’s determination to prevent the establishment of an Iranian military threat from within Syrian territory.
On April 9, 2018 an attack attributed to Israel on an Iranian base, located in the T-4 Syrian Air Force Base, killed fourteen Iranian military personnel, including Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers and the commander of the IRG Drone Force.
On April 14, 2018 Israel reportedly destroyed a storage facility housing 200 long range missiles which had been moved by Iran into Syria. According to Iranian sources eighteen Revolutionary Guard personnel were killed in the attack and the Mullah regime vows to retaliate against Israel.
In Lebanon, Iran’s most important proxy, Hezbollah, escalate its threats against Israel.
In December 2017 and again in January 2018, openly ignoring the Lebanese government’s sovereignty and violating UNSC Resolution 1701 – Hezbollah conducted a tour next to the Israeli-Lebanese border for leaders of Iranian backed Iraqi Shi’ite militias, who vow to join the fight to eliminate Israel.
Before the ink of the JCPOA had dried, Iranian leaders continued – and increased their provocative and aggressive statements.
Here are some examples:
In December 2015 – less than six months after the signing of JCPOA, the Commander of the Revolutionary Guards (IRG), General Mohammad ‘Ali Jafari, said in an interview that Iran is working towards its goal of abolishing the borders between Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
In June 2016, a special consultant for the IRG’s Al-Quds elite force, General Iraj Masjedi, declared that the goal of Iran’s military presence in Iraq and Syria is to defend Iran’s borders.
In September 2016, the former IRG Commander and current Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, Major General Mohsen Rezaee, said in interview that Iran will never give up its strongholds in Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen.
In December 2016, the Deputy Commander of the IRG, General Hossein Salami, announced that following the downfall of Aleppo, Iran intends to extend its control to Yemen, Bahrain, and Mosul (South Iraq).
In early 2018, ‘Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Iran’s supreme leader, ‘Ali Khamenei, announced that Iran will continue its regional policy – as it is determined to become the dominant regional power. In that context, Iranian leaders constantly brag the Iran controls four Arab capitols; Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and San’aa.
The JCPOA fuels Iranian aggression, and deepens Iran’s grip in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and the Gaza Strip – resulting in a growing whirlpool of violence and destruction.
Lifting the sanctions on Iran – which was part of the JCPOA deal, streamed billions of dollars into Iran’s treasury. Those funds were quickly allocated to increase the Mullah regime’s financing of its network of armed agents and proxies: Afghan Shi’ite militias, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Houthi Shi’ite militias, Iraqi Shi’ite militias, etc.
At minimum – the Western Architects of the JCPOA demonstrated a shocking lack of understanding and inconceivable shortsightedness. Amazingly – and no less shockingly, despite the disastrous bitter fruits of the JCPOA, major current Western leaders insist on preserving the JCPOA.
The JCPOA should – at least -be revised and those revisions should include:
- Putting restrictions on the Iranian Ballistic Missile Program, which was not addressed in the JCPOA.
- Ending Iran’s aggressive expansion in the region either directly or through the use of proxies, which was not addressed in the JCPOA.
- Implementing and enforcing tough sanctions if the regime does not comply with the above.
A major flaw of the original deal was that Western leaders failed to connect the JCPOA with the Iranian aggressive policy. Western leaders must not make the same mistake again.
In the many articles I have published since 2012 I have predicted that the Western rapprochement towards the Mullah Regime will increase the risk for a massive regional collision. Unfortunately, my predictions were accurate.
The JCPOA pushed the Middle East closer to a massive regional collision with global ramifications. Will Western leaders internalize that fact and for a change listen this time? Again, like so many times before – I wonder….
To understand the path that has led us to this juncture, please read my analysis and predictions of the severe outcomes of the Western rapprochement towards the Mullah Regime:
“Is War in the Middle East Inevitable?” ~ February 2012
“Pax Amer-Iran” ~ March 2015