Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
The Missing Option to Defuse Claimed Iran Threat
By Nicola Nasser
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, August 27, 2012
To keep “all options on the table” in the U.S. – Israel plans to
change the incumbent Syrian and Iranian regimes and neutralize what both
countries perceive as an imminent “threat” is a formula missing the only
feasible option to defuse their perceived threat peacefully, which is
obviously much cheaper in money and human souls.
On August 19,
Israeli former head of the Operations Directorate of the Israeli military,
Maj. Gen. (res.) Uri Saguy, wrote in Haaretz that late Israeli Prime
Minister Yitzhak “Rabin strove to achieve agreements with our neighbors
before the Iranians got a bomb. If we had peace accords today with the Arab
countries and with the Palestinians, what exactly would the Iranians'
conflict with us be about?”
Giving priority to making peace with
Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian people on the land – for – peace basis,
which is the essence of the Arab Peace Initiative proposed by the 22 –
member states of the Arab League in 2002, would disarm Iran of its Arab,
Palestinian credentials and create a new regional environment that would in
turn render any Arab alliance with Iran unnecessary and would uncover
Iranian regional expansion as an endeavor sought per se by Tehran.
Instead, Israel is running away from peace making to warmongering, risking
embroilment of the United States in a war on Iran that Washington does not
want, at least for now.
Four-star chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of
Staff Martin Dempsey said on August 19 that he has been conferring with his
Israeli counterpart Benny Gantz on a regular “bi-weekly” basis and “we've
admitted to each other that our clocks are turning at different rates.”
Israel's envoy to Washington, Michael Oren, acknowledged in a CNN interview
the following day that Israel's clock was ticking faster than Washington's.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali “Khamenei has not [“probably”]
given orders to start building a [nuclear] weapon,” according to Israeli
defense minister Ehud Barak in a CNN interview on April 20; His Iranian
counterpart Ahmad Vahidi this week dismissed Israeli warmongering as
“psychological war;” General Martin Dempsey cautioned against an Israeli
strike saying it would not destroy Iran's nuclear program; President Shimon
Peres last week joined senior security, military and political experts to
warn against a unilateral Israeli strike not coordinated with the U.S.
In the RAND Review for spring this year, Ambassador James Dobbins, who
directs RAND’s international security and defense policy center, and three
expert analysts argued that “an Israeli or American attack on Iranian
nuclear facilities would make it more, not less, likely that the Iranian
regime would decide to produce and deploy nuclear weapons. Such an attack
would also make it more, not less, difficult to contain Iranian influence.”
Nonetheless, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has been beating the drums
of war, linking the Iranian “threat” to a second holocaust (a comparison
dismissed by Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel). His newly
appointed home front defense minister, Avi Dichter, says, “Israel’s
existence is threatened.” Israel’s top-tier missile defense system was
announced upgraded and missile alert system tested. In a nationwide
experiment to continue through Thursday, text messages warning of incoming
missiles are being sent to cellphone users. Gas mask centers have already
distributed more than four million masks.
Israeli warmongering is
creating, in Saguy’s words, an “orchestrated and purposely timed hysteria”
in Israel as if “someone is lighting a fire, then yelling that it has to put
Financial markets are shivering, foreign investors are on
guard, Israeli new shekel is growing increasingly weaker against the dollar
and Pnina Grinbaum, a 55-year-old government clerk in Jerusalem, was quoted
by the Associated Press on August 16 as saying: “I’m very afraid. I want
peace, not war.”
The international stand – off on Iran’s nuclear
program as well as on the Syrian crisis is very tightly linked to the
impasse, which saw the Arab and Palestinian – Israeli peace process reach a
The Syrian crisis in particular is more closely tied to
the impasse in the Arab – Israeli conflict. De-linked from this conflict, it
would boil down to an internal crisis that could be easily solved by Syrians
Regional and international involvement in the Syrian
crisis has nothing to do with the internal crisis per se, but has exploited
the internal crisis because it has a lot to do with the U.S. – Israel plans
to isolate and contain what both countries perceive as an Iranian regional
threat to their interests.
To this end, Israel and U.S. are now
doing all what they can to break the alliance between Iran and Syria and the
Syrian bridge linking Iran to Lebanese and Palestinian movements resisting
Israeli military occupation, thus cutting off Iran from the Mediterranean,
as well as depriving these movements from their Syrian support, by
coordinating a ‘regime change” in Damascus.
For four years since
Benyamin Netanyahu came to power, Israel risked a confrontation with the
U.S. administration of President Barak Obama over his order of priorities in
the Middle East, which gave precedence to reaching a negotiated political
settlement for the Palestinian – Israeli conflict as a precondition to
building up a U.S., Arab and Israeli front against Iran.
advocated a reversed order of priorities and has succeeded in pushing the
Palestinian – Israeli conflict down from the top of U.S. regional agenda in
favor of solving the U.S. – Israeli Iranian debacle first.
rearrangement of Israel – U.S. priorities has marginalized the Arab –
Israeli “peace process” to the extent that both countries feel relaxed
enough now to feel free from any serious commitment to resume it.
However, developments prove this rearrangement of priorities
counterproductive and playing in Iranian hands, making the regional Iranian
alliances stronger, perpetuating the Syrian crisis, around which a new
multi-polar world is emerging, and sidelining the Palestinian peace
partners, leaving them with no other option but to take their deadlocked
peace process to the United Nations, to bring back on track the Palestinian
– Israeli conflict to the top of the international agenda in the Middle
East, thus creating a fait accompli that will make impossible the Arab –
Israeli – U.S. front against Iran that Washington has been trying to build
up over the past few years.
Cornering the Palestinians longer in
their United Nations option, similarly changing nothing on the ground to end
the Israeli military occupation, would in no time see them loosing faith in
peace making to be pushed involuntarily to realign regionally to the other
side, which would exacerbate the Iran “threat” rather than containing it.
* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Bir Zeit, West
Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. He can be contacted at