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UPDATE: Victory for Iran — Hegemony Over the Arabian Peninsula

Iran has thrown  a lasso around Arabian peninsula with Houthi Shia takeover in Yemen.  Friends of ours here in Pensacola have two serving U.S. Marine Captains. One of them was in charge of  Marine Security for our embassies in the Middle East.  He called home to say that he was in the last group of 10 persons that  vacated the U.S. Embassy in Saana, Yemen, He told his parents in a phone call of the circuitous trip to the airport in Yemen’s capital evading Houthi checkpoints. The flight took the group to safety in Dubai. Yemen is now a failed state that will likely devolve into sectarian war between the minority Houthi and the divided majority Sunni.  It also marks another failure of this  exemplar  of the Obama ‘no name’ counterterrorism strategy.

Saudi Arabia’s fences on its northern and southern borders may become the equivalent of France’s Maginot Line that failed to stop the Nazi blitzkrieg in 1940 that saw the demise of Third Republic. The Kingdom has the largest number of Islamic State foreign fighters who will constitute a fifth column upon return to the Wahhabist realm.  That gives Iran virtual control of Iraq, Syria, Yemen, plus Lebanon with Proxy Hezbollah.  Then  there are restive majority Shia in Bahrain and oppressed Shia sitting atop Saudi Arabia’s oil fields in the eastern province on the Persian Gulf. Some argue that Iran may have even been complicit  fostering the rise of ISIS despite the alleged hatred between radical Islamist Salafist and Apocalyptic Twevlers in Tehran.

If President Obama’s quest for a nuclear pact with the Islamic Regime in Tehran occurs on March 24th with the P5+1 final agreement, Iran becomes a nuclear hegemon threatened the region, America’s ally Israel  and the West. Remember that agreement excludes ICBMs that may be capable of covering Europe and beyond.  Yesterday Uruguay arrested a senior Iranian diplomat  alleged to be involved in a possible repeat in Montevideo  of the Iranian sponsored 1992 Buenos Aires blast at the Israeli Embassy.

Obama’s ‘Strategic Patience”  document released Thursday amounts to capitulation and appeasement of Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, IS, Taliban and Al Qaeda. To say nothing of his failed Russian reset with Imperialist Putin in the Ukraine and  failed pivot to contain China’s saber rattling in East Asia  He even changed the wording of his original war declaration against IS  from “degrade and destroy” to “degrade and destroy”.  He is worse than British PM Neville Chamberlain at Munich in 1938 that sold out pre-war Czechoslovakia. At least Chamberlain brought Sir Winston Churchill into his cabinet after the declaration of war against Nazi Germany on September 3, 1939  as First Lord of the Admiralty, a prelude to Churchill being asked by King George VI to form a government on May 10,1940 following Chamberlain’s resignation.

Obama and  many Democratic Senators and Representatives deplore the proposed speech by Israel’s PM Netanyahu on the dangers of  Iran and radical Islam before a Joint Session of Congress on March 3rd at the invitation of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner. If that does occur then the leader of America’s only democratic ally in the Middle East, who is said to speak in Churchillian cadence, will like the fabled UK wartime premier, have a third opportunity to present his prescient views.

NOTE: This Twitchy headline and  tweeted  comments  posted on ‘Victory for Iran’: Shia rebels in ‘success story’ Yemen dissolve parliament, take charge

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Houthi Shia rebels in Yemen.

Bibigate – The Contretemps over Netanyahu’s Speech to Congress on Iran’s Nuclear Program

Last Saturday night a retired U.S. Navy officer said “I’ll bet you even money that Bibi will withdraw from the proposed speech before a joint session of Congress”. I joshed him and said “I wouldn’t count on it.”

Sunday, I received suggestions that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu should have a Plan B given the rising contretemps in the media over US House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to talk about Iran before a Joint Session of Congress. There  was a welter of criticism from the White House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and mainstream media talking heads  included David Brooks of the New York Times and  Chris Wallace and Shepherd Smith of  FoxNews.  They were admonishing Speaker Boehner and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer with terms like “dicey, wicked more for photo op” and “partisan politics” and “unwise for Israel.”  It was ostensibly about the lack of courtesy shown the President by not giving prior notice to the White House of the invitation extended to Netanyahu.  There was pique by certain unnamed senior officials in the White House over what some might call Bibigate.

However, let us remember there was increasing  bi-partisan support for new Iran nuclear sanctions legislation despite  the President’s warning that he would veto it if it was passed. New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez was particularly incensed at the President for his questioning his motivations.  Menendez said: “The more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran. And it feeds to the Iranian narrative of victimization, when they are the ones with the original sin.”  Lest, we forget, the President had threatened a veto if increased Iran legislation passed.  It was abundantly clear in the January 16th Joint Press Conference at the White House when the President Obama agreed with UK PM David Cameron’s remarks, urging Senators on Capitol Hill not to take up new sanctions legislation at a “sensitive time”. Thus, one could speculate that Speaker Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu on January 21st to speak to a Joint Session of Congress in early March was a rebuttal to the President.

The rancor over Bibigate was visible in the final week of January into February.  Wednesday, January 28thCNN released a clip of Fareed Zakaria’s February 1st GPS interview with President Obama.  Obama suggested that a visit with Netanyahu was “inappropriate,” as it was too close to the upcoming March Knesset elections.  The President said, “I’m declining to meet with him simply because our general policy is, we don’t meet with any world leader two weeks before their election, [I] think that’s inappropriate. And that’s true with some of our closest allies.”  Those comments engendered another rebuttal that the White House may have been giving tacit support to the involvement of Presidential Campaign aide Jim Byrd in advising the Labor-Hanuat opposition to Netanyahu in the Knesset general elections.

Friday, January 30th, Jeffrey Goldberg published an interview in The Atlantic with Israeli Ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, a former US Republican strategist and member of the Netanyahu’s inner circle.   Dermer discussed the background for Boehner’s issuance of the invitation to Netanyahu to speak to Congress on Iran. Dermer suggested that while the Prime Minister “meant no disrespect towards President Obama … Netanyahu must speak up while there is still time to speak up”.

That led Cornell Law Professor William Jacobson on the blog Legal Insurrection to opine that Obama’s not offended; he just wants Bibi out of office.

The Hill round up on the Sunday Talk shows had comments from Rep. Paul Ryan on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and Arizona Senator John McCain on CNN’s “State of The Union.”  Over the issue of Speaker Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu Ryan said,” The Invitation to Israeli prime minister was ‘absolutely’ appropriate. I don’t know if I would say it’s antagonizing”.  McCain drew attention to the new low in U.S. – Israel relations under Obama saying, “It’s the worst that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.”

Virtually out of nowhere, Sunday, February 1st, commentary from an “Insight” blog post of the Israeli Institute for National Security Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University shed light on a bizarre theory of what was behind Bibigate.  The author of the INSS post, Zaki Shalom, suggested:

The backdrop for the Administration’s expressed dissatisfaction with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s intention to present his position on negotiations with Iran to Congress, creating a rather transparent linkage between Israel’s positions on negotiations with Iran and sanctions, and U.S. willingness to assist in combating the Palestinian attempt to exert international legal and diplomatic pressure on Israel.

On Thursday, January 30, 2015, the Senate Banking Committee voted out a ‘softer’ version of the Kirk –Menendez Sanctions legislation by a vote of 18 to 4, including six Democrats.  As reported by The Hill, the legislation:

… Would impose sanctions on Iran if a comprehensive agreement to roll back its nuclear program is not reached by June 30 and would allow the president to waive sanctions indefinitely for 30 days at a time.

However, the bill would be shelved until March 24th for a possible floor vote.  Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) said, “All of us understand it’s not going to be voted on before March 24”. While the measure may portend a possible override vote should President Obama veto it that still requires Senator Menendez to keep the group of 17 Democratic Senators who support this version of sanctions legislation in the bi-partisan alliance.

Israeli concern over a weak final agreement by March 24th  is reflected  in a Times of Israel report published  Sunday, February 1st,” US sources deride Israeli ‘nonsense’ on Obama giving in to Iran.”  Israeli  sources contend that Iran is likely to get 80 % of what it is seeking- the ability to continue enrichment with  upwards of 9,000 centrifuges, especially the advanced IR-2s. The Israelis believe that would give Iran nuclear breakout within weeks.  Add to that mix Iran flaunting pictures in a ToA  report of a Medium Range Ballistic Missile (MRBM) capable of covering all of Europe. That is to be followed in 2015 to 2016 by one cap ICBM range. Of course there a number of us who believe that Iran may already have purchased nuclear weapons from rogue regimes, but may lack nuclear warheads, which are likely to be supplied by North Korea to be mounted on those ICBMs.

Especially as the President observed, there is less than a 50/50 chance of reaching an agreement. Then assuming the current polls are correct and Bibi retains the ability to form a new Knesset coalition after the March 17th election, he may speak with both authority and strength.

As a usual astute observer of Israel from Europe, Imre Herzog, opined when I wrote him on my side bet “you might win the bet”.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Washington Times File Photo  5-24-2011.