Gi­ant shadow

Why Kerry’s du­bi­ous le­gacy looms large in the re­gion

Jerusalem Post - - FRONT PAGE - (Reuters)

John Kerry is on another cam­paign swing, this time at London’s Chatham House, try­ing to con­vince the world that his Iran agree­ment is an over­whelm ing diplo­matic suc­cess. I wit­nessed the de­bates in the Se­nate lead­ing up to the JCPOA (Iran Agree­ment), and Kerry’s speech re­peated many of the same fac­tu­ally flawed ar­gu­ments.

Now, two years later, it is clear that the JCPOA has in­creased the like­li­hood of war on Is­rael’s north­ern bor­der, which could quickly es­ca­late to in­volve many re­gional play­ers and Rus­sia.

The toxic com­bi­na­tion of an em­bold­ened Iran us­ing Shi’ite prox­ies to fill the Is­lamic State (ISIS) vac­uum while Amer­ica chooses to cede in­flu­ence to Rus­sia has set the stage for fur­ther desta­bi­liza­tions, where one false move could set the re­gion on fire, putting Amer­i­can troops in harm’s way.

Ac­cord­ing to The Wall Street Jour­nal and cor­rob­o­rated to me in my vis­its to Congress, Is­rael and think thanks, there is no Amer­i­can con­sen­sus on an Iran strat­egy.

Our mil­i­tary of­fi­cials haven’t been able to de­cide to call a spade a spade and fully sup­port list­ing the ter­ror­ist arm of Iran, the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard, as a ter­ror­ist en­tity. Memo to the un­named mil­i­tary of­fi­cials: ap­pease­ment of Iran’s regime will not work; the Supreme Leader and his min­ions ac­cept car­rots with a smile.

The JCPOA is per­ceived by Iran as weak­ness, em­bold­en­ing its vi­sion for a per­ma­nent pres­ence in Syria, in­clud­ing a naval base on the Mediter­ranean.

All of this came into fo­cus for me af­ter speak­ing to mem­bers of Congress and their for­eign pol­icy teams with an ex­pert an­a­lyst on Is­rael’s north­ern bor­der this week, and dur­ing my speech to the Amer­i­can de­fense in­dus­try with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of Arab and other Mus­lim gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

My goal in Congress was to shine a spot­light on the grow­ing dan­gers to Amer­i­can and Is­raeli se­cu­rity in­ter­ests that have been cat­alyzed by the hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars in sanc­tions re­lief Iran has re­ceived as a con­se­quence of Kerry’s agree­ment, and how it has been in­vested in a Shi’ite land cor­ri­dor that has ex­ac­er­bated an al­ready volatile sit­u­a­tion in south­ern Le­banon and Syria.

The toxic stew of an em­bold­ened Iran and its prox­ies Hezbol­lah, the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard-con­trolled Pop­u­lar Mo­bi­liza­tion Units, and Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad, all with Rus­sian back­ing, have cre­ated a tin­der­box in the Le­vant where one match, either a sin­gle Hezbol­lah mis­sile at­tack in north­ern Is­rael killing civil­ians or the down­ing of an Is­raeli air­craft over Syria or Le­banon, could set the re­gion on fire.

Add to that the un­known ef­fect of the vac­uum cre­ated by the res­ig­na­tion of the Le­banese prime min­is­ter, Saad Hariri, seem­ingly or­ches­trated by the Saudis due to his coz­en­ing up with arch­en­emy Iran and Hezbol­lah, and this part of the Mid­dle East is ground zero for the next re­gional war.

Iran sees Kerry’s con­tin­ued sup­port of the JCPOA de­spite its pro­found neg­a­tive con­se­quences as a green light that Amer­ica can con­tinue to be ma­nip­u­lated and dis­suaded from stop­ping its num­ber one re­gional goal, ef­fec­tive con­trol of Iraq, Syria and Le­banon.

So let’s break down Kerry’s as­ser­tions at the Chatham House as re­ported by The Jerusalem Post, and how they have added to the desta­bi­liza­tion of the over­all re­gion.

Kerry: “Bomb­ing Iran does not nec­es­sar­ily stop them from hav­ing a nu­clear weapon.”

Iran is hell-bent on get­ting nu­clear weapons, and no agree­ment is go­ing to de­ter this rev­o­lu­tion­ary theo­cratic move­ment from its world­wide am­bi­tions.

Kerry: “I guar­an­tee you, once you bomb the coun­try [Iran], you have surely given them a good rea­son to want to have a weapon.”

They aren’t wait­ing for us to give them a good rea­son. They are putting in a huge, de­ter­mined ef­fort to have nu­clear-armed mis­siles as lever­age to achieve hege­mony over their en­e­mies right now. Also, the anal­y­sis of any­one who guar­an­tees you any­thing in the Mid­dle East should be sus­pect from the start.

Kerry said that Iran could have “dug two miles deep into a moun­tain” to cre­ate a fa­cil­ity to pro­duce a nu­clear weapon.

Iran is al­ready build­ing deep un­der­ground bunkers for its nu­clear-ca­pa­ble mis­siles, which Iran has pub­licly ac­knowl­edged with photos. An NBC news re­port showed pic­tures of a mas­sive bunker with Emad nu­clear-ca­pa­ble mis­siles. The only real ques­tion is how many un­der­ground mis­sile cities North Korea has helped Iran dig al­ready in the unin­spected mil­i­tary sites Kerry con­ve­niently agreed to ig­nore in the ne­go­ti­ated agree­ment.

Kerry said that when the deal was con­cluded Iran was two months away from hav­ing the abil­ity to pro­duce a nu­clear weapon, but that now it is a year away.

His friend, Ali Ak­bar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic En­ergy Or­ga­ni­za­tion, said that Iran could within five days be­gin en­rich­ment of ura­nium to 20%. Kerry should have shared with his au­di­ence that his agree­ment al­lowed im­me­di­ate un­re­strained Ira­nian R&D on ad­vanced cen­trifuges, cor­rober­at­ing Salehi’s claim.

Kerry claimed Iran wouldn’t be able to pro­duce a nu­clear weapon for 15 years, and then only with an ad­di­tional 10 years of over­sight.

In just eight years Iran is al­lowed to openly ad­vance its nu­clear pro­gram. His claim that there will be over­sight over the next 20 years is silly in light of the cur­rent over­sight that is al­ready in­ef­fec­tive and filled with loop­holes.

The le­gacy of the JCPOA is still be­ing writ­ten, but in a few years its au­thors will be creat­ing new mytholo­gies and ra­tio­nal­iza­tions to ex­plain its fail­ures, blam­ing ev­ery­one but them­selves, while our al­lies in the re­gion will have to bear the con­se­quences of its fail­ures, per­haps be­gin­ning with ex­plain­ing how it ig­nited the third Le­banon war.

The author is di­rec­tor of MEPIN™, the Mid­dle East Po­lit­i­cal and In­for­ma­tion Net­work™. He reg­u­larly briefs mem­bers of Congress and think tanks on the Mid­dle East, and is a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to The Jerusalem Post.

HE STILL casts a gi­ant shadow.

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