Review Category : Uncategorized

Five Options Trump Should Consider to Counter Iran

Iranian President Rouhani has invited countries in the Middle East to join what he called the security coalition of HOPE — a rough acronym for the Hormuz Peace Endeavor.  Rouhani has described this as a coalition that “will secure freedom of navigation, flow of energy and the regional stability in the Persian Gulf.”  He has also suggested that Iran should serve as one of the leaders of this coalition because “Iran during the last four decades fought against terrorism unequivocally…Iran is a country that has brought peace in the region.”

Coming from Iran, this proposal is rich in irony. 

(October 10, 2019 / Newsmax)

Iran, of course, is the main terror sponsoring nation that is interrupting the freedom of navigation, the flow of energy and regional stability, in the Persian Gulf and in the Bab el Mandab.  In the latest attack, the Iranians used drones and missiles to knock out about half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production.  Iran’s attack on Saudi oil facilities took 5.7 million barrels per day of production offline and pushed oil prices (briefly) 18% higher.  Although Iran’s Yemeni proxy, the Houthis, claimed credit for the attack on Saudi Arabia, the evidence was so strong that Iran was behind it that even the Western European leaders of France, Germany, and the UK, all of whom who continue to be part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action, were forced to acknowledge Iran’s complicity.

What this means is that if Iran seriously wanted to promote freedom of navigation, the flow of energy and regional stability, it doesn’t need to form a coalition.  It just needs to stop its aggression and promotion of terrorism through the Middle East (and worldwide). 

Unfortunately, we know the Iranian regime is never going to do that.  But, recognizing that the U.S. does have a national interest in keeping the oil and natural gas lanes in the Middle East flowing to the U.S. and the rest of the world – to prevent a major economic downturn – the question then becomes, what should the U.S. do to disincentivize future Iranian aggression, which may be imminent?

So far, President Trump has responded by expanding the list of sanctions the U.S. has put on Iran, all part of the “maximum pressure” campaign, which has pushed the Iranian economy into a recession.  Further, the U.S. plans to bar senior Iranian officials and their immediate family from entering the United States as immigrants or non-immigrants.  The President has also sent U.S. troops to protect Saudi Arabia, and has been promoting the idea of an Arab NATO, or a U.S. led multinational maritime effort, originally called Operation Sentinel, to ensure freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf region, the Strait of Hormuz, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Oman.  

All of these are good ideas.  But more actions may be necessary.  Here are five other options for the U.S.

First, the U.S. could diplomatically engage the Iranian regime. 

Second, the U.S. could act to sabotage the Iranian regime.  For example, it could unleash another cyberattack, along the lines of Stuxnet, or, more recently, its’ alleged cyberattack against a spy group tied to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.  Or, the CIA, or other U.S. forces, might support and/or train Iranian dissident groups.

Third, the U.S. could invade Iran and oust the Iranian regime, a la the 2001 Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, or Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

Fourth, the U.S. could conduct some sort of lesser military action against the Iranian regime.  A good example of this was Operation Praying Mantis in 1988, which dissuaded Iran from challenging the U.S. Navy or from targeting oil shipping for many years.  In retaliation for Iran’s earlier mining of the Persian Gulf, which resulted in a U.S. ship being damaged and many of its crew being injured, the U.S. Navy destroyed two Iranian surveillance platforms, sank two of their ships, and severely damaged another.  In addition to going after the Iranian navy, other possibilities suggested include the U.S. specifically targeting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or the Kharg Island terminal, through which more than 90% of Iranian oil exports go.  The U.S. could conduct these attacks in the open, or with official deniability, i.e., in the “gray zone”, as does Iran.

Fifth, the U.S. could attack some of the Iranian proxies throughout the Middle East.  For example, Lebanese Hezbollah, Iranian backed forces in Syria, or Iranian backed forces in Iraq.  Israel frequently conducts these kinds of attacks as well.  In each case, Israel does so to enforce its red lines.  For example, in Syria, the Israeli red line is that Assad and his Iranian-backed allies must honor a decades-old agreement that sets out a demilitarized zone along the frontier and limits the number of forces each side can deploy within 25 kilometers (15 miles) of the zone.  Once again, the U.S. could do this openly or in the gray zone.

In my view, several of these actions may already be eliminated.  Diplomacy seems counterproductive at this juncture, as “Iranians negotiate only after defeating their enemies… Signaling a desire to talk before being victorious is, in Iranian eyes, a sign of weakness or lack of will to win.”  Also, a full scale invasion of Iran makes little sense, as we have seen in Iraq how expensive, in both blood and treasure, it can be.  And a more limited U.S. attack against Iranian proxies also seems pointless, as it is well known that “Iran is willing to sacrifice Arab Shiites but not Persian Shiites.” 

This leaves just two viable options.  The U.S. could sabotage the Iranian regime, and/or the U.S. could conduct a limited strike against the Iranian regime.  In that order, I would recommend them to President Trump.

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9/3/19 – Capitol Hill Policy Phone Seminar Series

LISTEN: “Iran’s Proxy War on Israel’s Northern Border” featuring Brigadier General Michael Herzog

This past weekend was a particularly hot one for Israel. Yesterday,  September 1st, the Iranian proxy, Hezbollah launched anti-tank missiles across Israel’s northern  border, directly aiming at an IDF base. Thank G-d no-one sustained injuries. However, in a decoy move, Israel staged an evacuation of soldiers with bandages and fake blood to Rambam Hospital.

Israel responded by attacking Lebanese targets and the outlying borders of Lebanese communities along the Syrian-Lebanese border There are no known casualties.

This was the first time since the Lebanese War of 2006 that there has been a significant military exchange between Hezbollah and Israel. It is felt that this skirmish might have been contained for now. However, the situation is extremely tense. And what makes it even more tense is that we all know that this is a shadow war, and the Islamic Regime is actually the puppet-master  pulling the strings of Hezbollah  and other Shiite militia groups, throughout Ira, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen , as they simultaneously  put on a gentle face to the world about the true intentions of their nuclear program.

Brigadier General Michael Herzog


Michael Herzog, a retired brigadier general in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), is the Israel-based Milton Fine International Fellow of The Washington Institute. Over the last decade General Herzog has held senior positions in the office of Israel’s minister of defense under ministers Ehud Barak, Amir Peretz, Shaul Mofaz, and Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. From September 2006 to October 2009, General Herzog served as chief of staff to Israel’s minister of defense. From November 2001 to July 2004, he served as senior military aide (“military secretary”) to the Israeli minister of defense. In that capacity, he acted as the liaison between the defense minister and the IDF, prime minister’s office, intelligence community, and Israeli defense establishment.

General Herzog was a visiting military fellow at The Washington Institute in 2004-2006. His published work at the Institute included the study, Iranian Public Opinion on the Nuclear Program: A Potential Asset for the International Community, and the influential Foreign Affairs article, “Can Hamas Be Tamed?“.

Since 1993, General Herzog has played a key role in the Arab-Israeli peace process, participating in most of Israel’s negotiations with the Palestinians, Jordanians, and Syrians, including the Wye Plantation summit, Camp David summit, the Taba negotiations, and the Annapolis summit and subsequent negotiations. From June 2009 to March 2010, he served as special emissary to Israel’s prime minister and minister of defense in the efforts to relaunch the peace process. The general’s career has included service as head of the Strategic Planning Division (1998-2001), deputy head of the Strategic Planning Division (1995-1998), member of the Intelligence Corps (1974-1994), and infantry soldier (1973 war).

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To Our Friends at FDD

We, at EMET, have long been admirers of the excellent work of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and in particular that of its CEO, Mark Dubowitz. We find it utterly outrageous and beyond the pale that the Islamic Republic of Iran, which remains the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, has issued threatening statements against our colleagues at FDD, and against Mark Dubowitz, personally.

FDD is an independent think tank with no US government ties. They offer thoughtful and insightful analysis on a variety of international issues.

This past weekend, Mehr, the official Iranian news agency issued a statement citing a law passed by the Iranian Parliament saying, “Accordingly taking any actions by the judicial and security apparatuses against the FDD and their Iranian and non-Iranian accomplices will be considered legitimate as their actions are against Iran’s national security and the interests of the Iranian people and government.”

It is an absolute shame that the people of Iran have been held hostage by the brutal and repressive Islamic regime for 40 years. A regime which allows no freedom or independent thought and analysis. It is therefore incomprehensible to them that there can be independent think tanks and organizations, free of government control.

We, at EMET, hope that one day the people of Iran can once again live in an open and free society, such as ours. In the meantime, we offer our strongest words of solidarity and support to our friends and colleagues at FDD.


Sarah N. Stern
Founder & President
Endowment for Middle East Truth

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CA Action Alert: Stop Anti-Israel Curriculum!

California’s Board of Education is currently reviewing an Ethnic Studies curriculum which contains anti-Israel and anti-Semitic content. The curriculum supports the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, omits the term anti-Semitism as a type of bigotry, and excludes Jews as an ethnic minority.  The curriculum also invokes age-old stereotypes against Jews, by encouraging teachers to use an anti-Israel poem that insinuates Jews control the world and the media to manipulate the public. The curriculum does not include a single lesson about the Jewish community, and only mentions Jews in passing.

How You Can Help:

California residents can submit public comments, with their objections to the curriculum, through August 15th.  Please Download the Public Input Template, available here, fill it out using Microsoft Word, and email it to ethnicstudies@cde.ca.gov by August 15th.

Your feedback matters! After the public comment period closes, the Instructional Quality Commission will fully review the model curriculum and all public comments, and recommend revisions at their September 2019 meeting. 

Act now and submit your public comment to help stop anti-Semitism from entering California’s public schools. 
(To learn more about the proposed, anti-Semitic curriculum,
see this story from JNS.org)

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Phone Seminar: “Is a Joint US Defense Pact Actually a Good Idea?”

At EMET’s 2019 Rays of Light Dinner on June 12th, Senator Lindsey Graham announced that he aims to have a new US-Israel Defense Treaty voted on by the Senate next year.  Sen. Graham stated that the treaty would show the Islamist regime of Iran that “an existential threat against Israel is an existential threat against the United States.”  The Treaty would add Israel to the list of NATO allies which have mutual defense commitments with Israel, and its supporters suggest it would help solidify Israel and America’s relationship.

While at first blush the Treaty seems beneficial, it has within some inherent pitfalls, and would likely create more problems for the State of Israel. Please join us for a conference call with Professor Efraim Inbar on the proposed US-Israel Defense Treaty, and the number of reasons why the Treaty would, in fact, not be beneficial for the US-Israel relationship.

Listen to the recording here:

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EMET’s Statement on Rep. Ilhan Omar’s 9/11 Comments

Rep. Ilhan Omar, in recent remarks before the Council of American Islamic Relations, could not speak the truth about 9/11 and al Qaeda, who murdered almost 3,000 Americans. She claimed in her speech that “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something, and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

The Endowment for Middle East Truth fully condemns Omar’s apparent insensitivity to the almost 3,000 Americans who had lost their lives on that fateful day,  as well as the more than 6,000 Americans that were injured. America was attacked on our soil on 9/11 and we therefore regard her statement as cavalier, calloused and truly un-American. 

It should also be pointed out that CAIR, the Council of American Islamic Relations, an organization which Democratic Senate Leader Charles Schumer describes as an “organization with known ties to terrorists”, was formed in 1994, a full 7 years before 9/11, which indicates that Rep. Omar speaks flippantly without checking the facts.

That is why we call on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to immediately remove Rep. Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where she will have access to our nation’s classified materials.  She has demonstrated she is incapable of identifying America’s overseas enemies and incapable of standing by the American people.

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Pro-Israel Groups Decry Rep. Omar’s Feb. 23 speech before Islamic Relief USA, a “charity” with ties to terrorist groups

The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) and 13 other Jewish and pro-Israel organizations delivered a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel calling for the immediate removal of Rep. Ilhan Omar from the committee in light of her recent keynote address seeking to raise funds for Islamic Relief USA, an organization that has documented ties to terrorist organizations.

To read the entire letter, please click here

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Mourning for a Bygone Lebanon


Iranian-backed Hezbollah has long used Lebanon as a “state within a state.” This weekend, Israel’s sophisticated tunnel-detection equipment uncovered its sixth tunnel, carved out of rock by Hezbollah. In early December, Israel embarked on “Operation Northern Shield” to uncover and explode Hezbollah’s vast network of tunnels meant to reach across the Golan Heights, leading directly into Israel.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the tunnels were wide and deep enough to allow for dozens of Hezbollah terrorist to penetrate Israel and conduct an opening salvo of the next war, accompanied by a massive explosion of the approximate 150,000 missiles.

At the conclusion of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the United Nations passed Security Council Resolution 1701, calling for all foreign forces to leave Lebanon. Israel was so careful to honor not only the letter, but the spirit of the resolution that they painted their stones blue and retreated south of the demarcation line (thus, the etymology of the term “The Blue Line”).

U.N. Resolution 1701 also called for the creation of the United Nations Forces in Lebanon, UNIFIL, whose job remains to ensure that there is a disarmament of all foreign forces within Lebanon.

However, according to several reports, the IDF had notified UNIFIL Forces about the existence of the Hezbollah tunnels. UNIFIL turned around and notified the Lebanese Armed Forces, and unfortunately, the LAF, in turn, notified Hezbollah.

The LAF has an interesting relationship with Hezbollah. Hezbollah and the LAF have been in a delicate balancing act as to which militia is the more dominant power in Lebanon. At this point, it seems as though Hezbollah has been in increasingly more powerful, and is exerting its influence both outside and within the LAF.

Many have described the LAF as “a wholly owned subsidiary of Hezbollah.”

As Aram Nerguizian from the Carnegie Middle East Center discusses, Lebanon has “parallel non-state military actors retaining both operational autonomy and national security legitimacy. The most obvious of this are the asymmetric military forces of Hezbollah.”

He adds that “no state institution, including the LAF, will openly challenge Hezbollah’s domestic credibility with its own Shia constituency, and the group’s resistance operations and expeditionary campaign in Syria have further strengthened Hezbollah’s domestic legitimacy.”

This is profoundly sad.

There was a period of time when I had looked towards Lebanon as the one Middle Eastern nation, outside of Israel, with religious freedom for all, and proportional representation in government for where minority and majority ethnic groups and religions.

Beirut was once considered “the Riviera of the Mediterranean”—the wealthiest city in the Middle East, a magnet for the international jet-set crowd.

The radiant epoch of that optimistic history was a brief moment from Feb. 14 to April 27, 2005, known as “The Cedar Revolution.” It was a time when tens of thousands of Lebanese Christians courageously took to the streets and demanded an ouster of Syrian forces.

That moment now seems like ancient history.

It had been provoked by the Feb. 14 assassination via truck bomb of Lebanese President Rafic Hariri. Four Lebanese members of Hezbollah were indicted in the murder.

Lebanon is a country made up of a myriad of ethnic and religious groups, including Shia and Sunni Muslims, Maronite, Eastern Orthodox, Melkite Catholic and Protestant Christians, and Druze (there hasn’t been a new census in Lebanon since 1932). Their byzantine system of governance tries to allow for a rotation of power for the various ethnic and religious groups, based on demographics.

In 1974, Imam Musa al-Sadir and Hussein el-Husseini, both Shia Muslims, established “The Movement of the Deprived” or the “Amal Movement,” which was a populist movement that aimed to represent “all dispossessed, deprived and poor people.” And then, ignited by the momentum of Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979, the Shi’ite movement began to emerge as a real force to reckon with and formed Hezbollah, meaning “The Party of God.”

Since then, Hezbollah has rapidly caught fire. Hezbollah runs an entire social-network system of schools, hospitals and even sports clubs throughout Lebanon. These entities and private homes have been used as military bases for Hezbollah.

To see how powerful it’s become, in the last parliamentary election in May of 2018, Hezbollah won more than half of the 128 seats in Lebanon’s parliament.

Many of the Hezbollah fighters were involved in the Syrian civil war, fighting alongside the forces of the ruthless Syrian President Bashar Assad and their mutual patron, Iran.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States gives the Lebanese Armed Forces approximately $150 million dollars a year, adding up to $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion over the last 10 years. Because of the intricate and complicated relationship between Hezbollah and the LAF, it’s high time we suspended that aid.

Unfortunately, we’ve come a long way since the golden days of the Cedar Revolution.

Originally published: https://www.jns.org/opinion/mourning-for-a-bygone-lebanon/

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