GETTY THE BIG APPLE: An aerial view of Lower Manhattan at dusk in New York City
USGS RISK: A seismic hazard map of New York produced by USGS “New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances” Dr Simon Day, natural disaster researcher This is because the bedrock underneath parts of NYC, including Long Island and Staten Island, cannot effectively absorb the seismic waves produced by earthquakes. “An important feature of the central and eastern United States is, because the crust there is old and cold, and contains few recent fractures that can absorb seismic waves, the rate of seismic reduction is low. Central regions of NYC, including Manhattan, are built upon solid granite bedrock; therefore the amplification of seismic waves that can shake buildings is low. But more peripheral areas, such as Staten Island and Long Island, are formed by weak sediments, meaning seismic hazard in these areas is “very likely to be higher”, Dr Day said. “Thus, like other cities in the eastern US, New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances than is the case for cities on plate boundaries such as Tokyo or San Francisco, where the crustal rocks are more fractured and absorb seismic waves more efficiently over long distances,” Dr Day said. In the event of a large earthquake, dozens of skyscrapers, including Chrysler Building, the Woolworth Building and 40 Wall Street, could be at risk of shaking. “The felt shaking in New York from the Virginia earthquake in 2011 is one example,” Dr Day said. On that occasion, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake centered 340 miles south of New York sent thousands of people running out of swaying office buildings.
USGS FISSURES: Fault lines in New York City have low rates of activity, Dr Day said NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city was “lucky to avoid any major harm” as a result of the quake, whose epicenter was near Louisa, Virginia, about 40 miles from Richmond. “But an even more impressive one is the felt shaking from the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes in the central Mississippi valley, which was felt in many places across a region, including cities as far apart as Detroit, Washington DC and New Orleans, and in a few places even further afield including,” Dr Day added. “So, if one was to attempt to do a proper seismic hazard assessment for NYC, one would have to include potential earthquake sources over a wide region, including at least the Appalachian mountains to the southwest and the St Lawrence valley to the north and east.”
In a dramatic parliamentary session on January 9, the new Iraqi parliament reelectedMohamed al-Halbousi for a second term as speaker. While the vote further widened intra-Shia divisions, it also revealed Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s ability to change political dynamics across Iraq. The Sadrist Movement, the Sunni Taqadum and al-Azim alliance, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and other smaller factions attended the session and voted for Halbousi and his two deputies.
According to the Iraqi constitution, the parliament has thirty days from the first session to elect the country’s new president, who will then ask the largest bloc in parliament to form a government. To date, there is no agreement between Iraq’s main political powers. The post-2003 system in Iraq is centered on an informal power-sharing arrangement among Shia Arabs, Sunni Arabs, and Kurds. Under this informal system, the prime minister’s post is reserved for a Shia, the position of speaker is reserved for a Sunni, and the president is required to be a Kurd.
Halbousi’s election can be seen as a victory for Sadr’s bloc over the Coordination Framework, a bloc that is largely aligned with Iran. Today, the political representation of the Iraqi Shia community is clearly divided into two main blocs. The first is the Sadrist Movement, which is led by the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, one of Iraq’s most visible post-2003 political leaders. The other Shia bloc is the Coordination Framework, a loose coalition of mainly Shia parties that includes two former prime ministers and other influential Shia political figures.
The Sadrists claimed nearly 40 percent of the seats won by Shia in the October 2021 election. Due to the complex nature of its coalition, it is still unclear how many seats the Coordination Framework will command. Nevertheless, it appears that they will control at least seventy seats.
As the largest single party in parliament, the Sadrists voted for the reelection of Halbousi, while the Coordination Framework boycotted the vote. A similar division occurred among the Kurds. The KDP, led by Masoud Barzani, attended the vote, while the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) joined the Coordination Framework in boycotting the vote.
Sadr described the vote as an important step toward forming a national majority government. Since the October 2021 election, the Sadrists have considered either trying to form a national majority government in coalition with non-Shia parties or settling for the role of Iraq’s political opposition. The Coordination Framework has only proposed one option: forming a consensus government. For Sadr, forming a majority government would mean reaching out to the major winners within the Sunni and Kurdish communities while excluding other political forces across the spectrum. A majority government can certainly be a responsible and effective government with clear tasks, expectations, and responsibilities. However, this idea is rejected by the Coordination Framework and every major party besides Sadr’s.
Sadr is serious about forming a majority government, which would challenge the post-2003 status quo in Iraq. At the same time, he knows that he has no guaranteed support from the other parties. While the Sunnis and the KDP joined Sadr in the vote for speaker, electing a president and prime minister is much more complex. Any Sadrist national majority government will depend on the support of the KDP and the new alliance between Taqaddum and al-Azim, the major political winners among Iraq’s Kurds and Sunnis. With the seats of another Kurdish party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Sadr could also lead a new government. On the other hand, Sadr could form a national majority government by dividing the Coordination Framework and gaining the support of Shia alliances such as the National Power of the State Coalition and the Fatah Alliance.
Sadr will face three key challenges in any attempt to form an alliance with the Kurds and Sunnis. First, though an understanding between Sadr, Barzani, and Halbousi existed prior to the election, the KDP and the Sunni parties have so far rejected the idea of forming an alliance with just one Shia bloc. In addition, former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Coordination Framework’s leader, has tried to create new alliances in an attempt to increase the Framework’s seats. This has created a balance of seats between the two Sunni blocs, making it difficult for Halbousi to claim sole leadership or representation of Iraq’s Sunnis. Finally, if Sadr does manage to obtain the support of the KDP and Halbousi, the Sadrists—the Shia component of the coalition—will not constitute a majority, making it the first government not dominated by Shia since 2003. This may make it a struggle for the coalition to win the support of the Shia community.
These challenges make it more likely that Sadr will try to reach out to Shia powers within the Coordination Framework to form a Sadr-led consensus government. The Sadrists may also consider settling as the opposition. The latter option may hold some appeal for Sadr, who has always presented himself as a renegadewho holds the government in Baghdad to account. Sadr’s supporters, who do not question his choices, may see Sadr as a true leader who sacrificed political power for the sake of the nation. This would not be the first time that Sadr threatened to leave a government and join the opposition. What is different today is that the Sadrists hold over seventy seats and could gain the support of smaller factions in order to create a sizable opposition bloc. If Sadr decides to take this path, he will create the most significant opposition force in the post-2003 Iraqi political system.
However, there are significant barriers that likely outweigh the perceived benefits of forming an opposition coalition. If Sadr does form an opposition coalition, it will only be because he has been prevented from forming a majority government. Considering the personal rivalry between Maliki and Sadr, this outcome will have broader implications for Sadr’s image and credibility.
Losing out on the ability to make appointments for the thousands of senior and special posts in the Iraqi government may also make Sadr hesitate to form an opposition coalition. Controlling these appointments allows politicians to direct national policy and advance their own political, ethnosectarian, and economic interests. Being in the opposition would prevent Sadr from taking advantage of this opportunity.
While Sadr enjoys a disciplined base and can afford to change his positions without losing support, he knows that his victory was largely due to the Sadrists’ skillful handling of new electoral laws. While they gained nineteen seats in the recent election, their share of the popular vote decreased significantly. For many political activists within the Sadrist Movement, especially those who worked hard during the election campaign, being in the opposition would prevent them from reaping the rewards that they believe Sadr owes them.
Lastly, if Sadr is not included in the next government, the Coordination Framework and the militias aligned with it will dominate Iraq. This would allow the militias to continue operating outside of Iraq’s security forces without facing pressure from the government. The crackdown on illegally owned weapons that Sadr campaigned on would not be implemented, and Sadr would disappoint the international supporters who saw in him a means to reduce the influence of pro-Iranian armed groups.
With all this in mind, it is likely that a partial consensus government will be formed. There is nothing new about a consensus government. However, what is new is that it may be a consensus government that advances the political, ideological, and international priorities of Muqtada al-Sadr.
Kamaran Palani is an Associate Fellow at Al Sharq Strategic Research, a Research Fellow at the Middle East Research Institute, and Lecturer in International Relations at Salahaddin-University-Erbil. His research interests include Iraqi politics, regional Kurdish politics, de facto statehood in the international system, internal displacement and prevention of violent extremism in Iraq.
Israeli forces seen in front of the Dome of the Rock, within the Al Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem on September 10, 2021 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]HajjSayidJanuary 15, 2022 at 2:24 pm
Clashes between Israelis and Palestinians are nothing new. These episodes have been happening since the Zionist militias started the Nakba in 1948 with the violent expulsion of more than 750,000 Palestinians and the destruction of more than 140 towns and villages. This ethnic cleansing campaign made way for the Ashkenazi, Khazar and Sephardi Jews, displaced from Europe, to settle in historical Palestine.
The episodes of direct confrontations in May 2021 between Palestinian resistance forces and Israel reignited the debate on the legitimacy of each and the effectiveness of a lasting peace agreement between the two parties. As usual, the mainstream media lavishly trumpeted the chant about “Israel’s right to defend itself”, while continuing to treat resistance forces, especially the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas, as responsible for aggression and “terrorism”.
In January 2020, former US President Donald Trump, without the participation of Palestinians, announced an arrangement termed the “deal of the century“. Trump’s proposition was a unilateral initiative arising from pressure from the US Jewish lobby aimed at continuing the annexations of Palestinian territories and recognising and legalising the crimes that the Jewish state has been committing since 1948. What appeared to be an alternative to “lasting peace” was, in fact, a macabre plan to end Palestine as a nation.
The colonialist plan did not end after the self-proclamation of the Jewish state nor with the massacre perpetrated during the so-called Six-Day War, or with the occupation of the Gaza Strip, Sinai (Egypt) and the Golan Heights (Syria). Israel continues to carry out the process of complete Judaisation of Palestine in all fields, adopting legislation such as the Basic Law of the Nation-State passed by the Knesset on 19 July, 2018, through which it legally became an exclusive state for Jews.
As can be seen, the goal of the Israeli occupation is the complete destruction of Palestine so that there is finally the establishment of a state of Jewish supremacy in the occupied territories, without defined borders and in permanent expansion. The intention is to transform what is left of Palestine into small islands of land as if it were a mini-state – pulverised, surrounded and suffocated by the occupier on all sides.
A new Hamas programme was approved in 2017 and called the General Document of Principles and Policies. It asserts that the establishment of the so-called “State of Israel” based on unilateral decisions is completely “illegal, infringes the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, and goes against their will and the will of the Nation,”as it is a violation of human rights and the right to self-determination.
Hamas has declared that it will not recognise Israel or anything that happened in Palestine in terms of occupation. This includes the construction of colonial settlements, the Judaisation of historical and sacred places and the change in characteristics or falsification of historical and cultural facts. It understands that Palestinian rights over their land and places will never lapse.
The Hamas programme rejects a lasting solution other than the liberation of Palestine “from the river to the sea”, without compromising its rejection of Israel and without abandoning any rights of the Palestinians. It agrees with the establishment of a Palestinian state along the borders of 4 June, 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital and the return of refugees and displaced people from their homes, from which they have been expelled since 1948.
The leadership of Hamas has declared that it is committed to the re-establishment of relations and joint actions by Palestinian organisations based on pluralism, democracy, national partnership, acceptance of the other and the adoption of dialogue. The aim is to strengthen the unity to meet the aspirational needs of the Palestinian people, as occurred in the historic meeting of 5 September, 2020, when the main Palestinian forces came together for a joint initiative to contest the Israeli occupation.
Some insist on the thesis of the alleged attempt by Hamas to delegitimise the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). However, the movement shows the recognition of the organisation in its programme, stating that it is a reference for the Palestinian people that needs to be preserved, developed and rebuilt on a democratic basis, inside and outside Palestine, to ensure the participation of all forces fighting to protect the rights of Palestinians.
While Palestinians seek solutions to end the colonial apartheid of the “Jewish state”, Zionist leaders deny, by all means, the most elementary rights of Palestinians. This can be seen in the statements of the current premier, Naftali Bennett, who said in 2018 that he “wouldn’t give an inch of land to the Arabs” and told US magazine The New Yorker in 2013: “I will do everything in my power so that they never have their own state.”
For these and other reasons, Palestinians do not trust the Zionists. They do not comply with agreements, such as the Oslo Accords, which have become a dead letter without recognising the right of existence of the Palestinian state. After Oslo, Israel accelerated the expansion of the occupation, the creation of Jewish colonial settlements, the confiscation of land, the creation of quotas for exports to the Israeli market and control on the import of agricultural machinery and tools, which ended up ruining Palestinian agriculture.
Despite this, there are still those who advocate the recognition of Israel by the Palestinian resistance as a pre-condition for the existence of “lasting peace agreements”. There are also those who support normalisation to take effect when it is known that this arrangement is ineffective for the simple realisation that Israel will not stop the occupation at a negotiating table. Such rhetoric serves the interests of the Israeli occupation, which is aware of its inability to win new battles against the Palestinian resistance.
To accept the occupier’s reality is to annihilate the dream of freedom and liberation, betraying the martyrs and those who fought long and hard for freedom, self-determination and dignity. This would betray the principles of legitimate resistance to achieve what is enshrined in international law and the Charter of the United Nations.
TENÓRIO, Sayid Marcos. Palestina: Do mito da terra prometido à terra da resistência. 1st ed. São Paulo: Anita Garibaldi, IBRASPAL, 2019. P. 382.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.
NEW DELHI: Even as there looks no immediate headway towards deescalating tensions between South Asian nuclear neighbours, at least 50 politicians, former officials, and peace activists have come together urging Pakistan and India to attend to their differences and work for durable peace in the region.
Indian peace activist Om Prakash Shah is planning to release compilations of 50 articles in the form of a book — In Pursuit of Peace: Improving Indo-Pak Relations — in the Indian capital New Delhi over the weekend, requesting both countries to at least start talks to find solutions to their political issues.
The authors, who have contributed to the book include former Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, former Information Minister Javed Jabbar, former Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari, former Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha and former Chief Minister of occupied Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah, among others.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency ahead of the release of the book, Shah said there was a general recognition on both sides to find a way to co-exist in a peaceful productive manner and to make sure that the differences do not spin out of control, especially given the developmental challenges faced by both countries.
“The main aim of this book is to deepen our mutual understanding of the different points of view in Pakistan and India and to speed up the process of dialogue, which I believe is an important tool for bridging the trust deficit between India and Pakistan,” said Shah, who is working on improving Pakistan-India relations for the last three decades.
He said the book has taken the stock of Indo-Pak relations as both countries are approaching the 75th anniversary of their independence in August 2022.
Relations between India and Pakistan plummeted to a new low after August 5, 2019, when India not only revoked the longstanding special status but also bifurcated the state of Jammu and Kashmir, prompting Islamabad to downgrade its diplomatic ties.
Desirable to turn to dialogue
Pakistan has been maintaining the normalization of ties with New Delhi is linked to a review of the August 5 decision and ultimate resolution of the Kashmir dispute.
Stating that India Pakistan relationship, “like any complicated multi-faceted relationship, has its ups and downs,” Shah said that it is important to maintain a focus on bridging the gaps between the two neighbours that share a long border.
“To bridge this inherited chasm, it is desirable to turn to dialogue, which is an important tool that is available to all of us. It is important that we do not leave the challenging task of establishing a climate of trust and confidence between India and Pakistan to our respective governments only,” he said.
Shah urged the civil society in both countries to take a lead in progressing the peace talks and to resolve our mutual differences, in addition to the efforts made by the two governments.
Asked about the central idea in the articles written by a divergent group of people across the borders, Shah said, all authors are committed to finding ways to improve India and Pakistan relations.
Mohammad Mukhtar Ansari, a former top official in the Indian government, who has also contributed to the book, said both countries should not be oblivious of emotional attachment between the divided families and cultural affinity among the people of both sides.
“The countries, which support cultural exchange programs across the regions and promote economic and business trade, do not engage themselves in war-like activities or maintain adversarial relations.
Both the countries must give a chance to its people to establish contacts at various levels, which will pave the way for establishing a friendly relationship with all the neighbouring countries,” he said.
He added that it is important that the protection of sociocultural identities is duly factored “in the dialogue process to respect and promote traditional bondage between the people living beyond the borders.”
VLADIMIR Putin wants to scare the US with his “bully boy” threats to set up military bases in Cuba but he won’t put nuclear weapons on America’s doorstep, an expert says.
Hawkish Russian foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov threatened to deploy forces in Latin America if security talks with the West fail to satisfy Moscow’s demands.
Speaking about potential military deployment, the politician told state media outlet RTVI: “It depends on the steps of our American counterparts.”
The threat came after Russia failed to persuade the West to block Ukraine from joining Nato and roll back decades of expansion in Europe.
Moscow branded the outcome of East-West talks as “disappointing” as tensions between the US and Russia over the Ukrainian crisis continue to simmer.
Taras Kuzio, a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society and a Ukrainian political expert, told The Sun: “Threatening to deploy military infrastructure in Cuba is just Putin’s childish attempt to poke the Americans in the eye.
“It’s Moscow’s way of being very immature and they are stomping their feet because they didn’t get what they wanted. They made ultimatums and all it did was lead to the uniting of the West.
“Putin is just angry that the talks didn’t get anywhere. It’s his way of saying ‘I’ll show you’.
“He carries a lot of anger inside him about how he thinks the West treated Russia after the collapse of the USSR in the 1990s and that anger keeps lashing out.”
Ryabkov said he could “neither confirm nor exclude” the possibility of Russia sending military assets to Latin America if the US doesn’t reduce its “activity” on Moscow’s doorstep.
Kuzio doesn’t think the “bully-boy bluffing” is a “big deal” but warned the situation could escalate if Moscow puts nukes in America’s backyard.
He said: “I mean if we go back to 1962 where Russia put nuclear weapons in Cuba then that’s a big deal but I don’t think Moscow will be that stupid.”
The 1962 crisis is the closest the world has ever come to a nuclear war.
The expert suspects that missile systems and military bases could be put on the Caribbean island if Russia carries out its threat.
He added: “I don’t think it will be a major operation because it would be costly. Cuba is too far away from Russia.
“They may supply the Cubans with some high-tech Russian equipment. And if those missiles could strike US territory, it would lead to a lot of angry American politicians.”
NATO rejected Russian demands for guarantees that Ukraine will never join the alliance.
Diplomats also rebuffed calls to withdraw forces from Eastern European nations that joined the alliance after the Cold War.
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said: “Together the United States and our NATO allies made clear we will not slam the door shut on NATO’s open-door policy.”
She branded Moscow’s demands a “non-starter”.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz claimed that the Biden administration is “enabling the aggression of Putin”.
Michael Carpenter, the US Ambassador to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said: “We’re facing a crisis in European security.”
And, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau warned: “It seems that the risk of war in the OSCE area is now greater than ever before in the last 30 years.
“For several weeks we have been faced with the prospect of a major military escalation in Eastern Europe.”
And Ben Wallace, the UK Defence Secretary, warned that the West “must prepare for the worst”.
He vowed that Britain would “stand up to bullies” as fears of a Russian invasion continue to mount.
No invasion by Moscow appears to be imminent as it stands despite the wargames.
Russia amassed around 100,000 troops at the Ukrainian border, put its satellite destroying S-550 missile into service, and launched the Angara A-5 – its largest rocket since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Geopolitical expert Brandon J Weichert previously told The Sun: “Putin wins points at home if he beats his chest at the West.
“But I do think if we’re not careful, Putin will lash out and he will strike.
“Washington is completely misreading this when diplomats and officials say it’s a bluff.”
Weichert also claimed that Moscow is “plotting” to launch a Pearl Harbor-style attack against the US.
He warned that Washington is behind both Moscow and Beijing in the so-called space race as both nations have weaponized the galaxies.
In his book, Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower, Weichert says that Russian co-orbital satellites, known as space stalkers, have been tailgating US satellites for years.
He predicts that the stalkers will eventually hit the satellites, sending them crashing into the ground.
He claimed officials in Moscow are plotting to launch such an attack at the time of its choosing.
Yet again, Covid-19 has led to the postponement of the 10th Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, which was originally scheduled for 2020, the 50th anniversary of the treaty going into effect. The meeting of the state parties to the treaty is now delayed until this coming August. The treaty is the most important in the badly shredded network of arms control agreements that were drawn up in the Cold War and post-Cold War eras to prevent nuclear war and to set the world on the path to abolition of nuclear weapons.
The NPT is the one treaty to which the historic, or legacy, nuclear powers (China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States) all belong. All have opposed the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that explicitly aims for the abolition of nuclear weapons. But non-nuclear states largely support the TPNW, as they believe the legacy states have abused the NPT to defend their own interests and, particularly in the last decade, to evade their own commitments to nuclear disarmament.
Israel can longer justify its evasiveness about its nuclear status, and its aggressive policies toward other potential nuclear states have made it a destabilizing force.
Non-nuclear states also perceive legacy states as playing favorites with certain nations outside the NPT, including Israel. In today’s nuclear landscape, however, Israel can no longer justify its evasiveness about its nuclear status, and its aggressive policies toward potential nuclear states among its regional rivals have made it a destabilizing force, constraining progress toward disarmament. It is time for Israel to come clean about its nuclear capacity and to join the international system of arms control.
While the TPNW establishes a duty for member states to try to universalize the treaty, the NPT has no such requirement. Its members seem content to sustain the status quo with a divide between the legacy nuclear states and non-nuclear states, with four nuclear-armed states outside the treaty (Pakistan, India and North Korea, in addition to Israel). In recent years, however, the bipolar balance of power between the United States and the former Soviet Union that sustained the treaty, with lesser powers in subordinate roles, has evolved dramatically.
This means that in its 52nd year, the NPT, with its current membership, is less useful as a framework for nuclear disarmament than it was only a decade ago. New realities include the fact that China is vying to become a nuclear superpower on par with the United States and Russia by modernizing its nuclear arsenal. Also, North Korea has become a powerful rogue state, developing a variety of weapons and delivery systems, challenging the United States, and threatening America’s East Asian allies of South Korea and Japan.
The bipolar balance of power between the United States and the former Soviet Union that sustained the treaty, with lesser powers in subordinate roles, has evolved dramatically.
As for Israel, it remains the sole (though undeclared) possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East and seems determined to remain so. Securing its nuclear superiority has become the driving force of its strategic policy. After bombing nuclear reactors in Iraq and Syria, it has reportedly conducted assassinations of nuclear scientists and sabotage operations, and it encouraged the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the 2015 international agreement designed to deny Iran the potential for developing its own bomb. Senior Israeli aides now regard those moves as a mistake because the Iranian program has shown surprising resilience. The situation in Iran is also a reminder that in a multipolar nuclear world, with major actors outside the NPT, that treaty fails to provide the nuclear peace it once promised.
Some arms control proponents hope that if the historic superpowers, the United States and Russia, can make progress toward bilateral disarmament, China may be induced to join a trilateral arms control treaty. And South Koreans hope that a declaration of peace followed by a treaty to formally end the Korean War will entice North Korea along the path to denuclearization, a formula the North has sometimes advocated itself. As for the regional rivals India and Pakistan, both of which are threatened by China, a trilateral treaty among the superpowers might well persuade them to pursue disarmament in some form as well.
Among the principal outliers to the NPT, only Israel remains without a path toward nuclear arms control and non-nuclear peace.
Historically, Israel has maintained a policy of opacity about its nuclear arms. But the circumstances around this strategy have changed dramatically. First, Israel is no longer surrounded by Arab enemies. After the Abraham Accords in 2020, it has treaties with many of the states in the region and collaborative relations with the regional heavyweight, Saudi Arabia. Second, Israel is the dominant military power in the region with exceptional technological advantages, particularly in cyberwarfare. As a result, its citizen army no longer puts it at a disadvantage. Third, even the narrow confines of its borders are not the potential weakness they once were: Israel has effective control of the West Bank, and—in defiance of the Oslo Accords and international law—it has enlarged its colonization of that area, securing the presence of a growing population of Israeli settlers there.
Its main regional enemy remains Iran. The chances of normalized relations with Iran are difficult to determine without diplomatic probes. With the fall of Benjamin Netanyahu, however, Israeli elites now openly regret opposing the Iranian nuclear disarmament agreement, and they rue how the former prime minister supported the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the agreement. My own informed sources say that under the new coalition government, Israeli intelligence and military officials are closer to their American colleagues, and they support a renewal of the Iranian agreement.
Israeli elites now openly regret opposing the Iranian nuclear disarmament agreement.
If the agreement is renewed and the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon disappears from the scene, the major historic reasons for Israel’s policy of strategic nuclear ambiguity will no longer be salient. There would be an opportunity to go public about its nuclear standing and its nuclear policies, and so enter into international arms control and disarmament agreements—including the NPT.
Why should Israel, or any other outlier nuclear-armed state, join the NPT? For one, it is the keystone agreement of the international arms control regime. The legacy nuclear powers already belong to it, and they regard it as the principal vehicle for nuclear disarmament. By contrast, none are state parties to the TPNW, and they actively oppose it. Second, the NPT envisages gradual progress toward disarmament preceded by various measures of arms control. Countries like Israel, whose defense policies rely on nuclear deterrence and even the possible use of nuclear weapons, will understandably be more comfortable with the NPT than the TPNW, which requires the abolition of nuclear arsenals in a shorter time frame.
A possible obstacle to Israel’s joining the NPT is the fact that the conferees of the treaty and the United Nations General Assembly support a Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone. Such zones already exist in Latin America, Africa, Central Asia, Mongolia, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific and Antarctica. They are a principal means under the NPT for extending the treaty’s Article VI commitments to make progress toward global nuclear disarmament.
The United States has repeatedly run interference to prevent the implementation of the Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone so as not to inconvenience or embarrass Israel. But if a renewed deal with Iran prevents the further development of a nuclear weapons program there, Israel will no longer have reason to object to the formation of a nuclear-free zone by its neighbors. Indeed, the region would be far safer for Israel if nearby countries were to renounce nuclear weapons. The world, moreover, would be safer still if the Israeli nuclear arsenal came out of the shadows and committed to international supervision in the same way that the arsenals of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council are today.
In a fast-changing geostrategic environment, the NPT would be a far more effective instrument of international security and nuclear stability if the state parties were to reach out to include outlier nuclear-armed states, including Israel, in their number. In the Middle East, Israel possesses unparalleled military superiority, and with aggressive tactics against possible rivals, it has ensured its exclusive nuclear hegemony. Under these conditions, it is time for Israel to be open about its nuclear arms, to join in global arrangements for preventing nuclear war, and, along with the NPT legacy states, to travel the path toward nuclear disarmament.
The commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) warned that taking revenge for the assassination of Lt. General Qassem Suleimani has turned into a strategy, a goal, and a plan for the Islamic Republic.
In an interview with Khamenei.ir, Major General Hossein Salami said the US assassination of Lt. General Suleimani sparked a “revolution in the hearts” and impressed the characters of the youth.
He said the assassination attack created millions of followers of General Suleimani, all of whom are seeking a revenge.
“At present, the revenge has turned into a strategy, a wish, an aspiration and a starting point,” the commander noted, saying the young people’s enthusiasm for the battle against the enemy has increased after the martyrdom of General Soleimani.
“This would create danger for the enemy,” he warned.
General Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and several of their companions, was assassinated in a US airstrike authorized by then-US president Donald Trump near Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020.
Both General Suleimani and al-Muhandis played a key role in defeating the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group which at its peak, threatened a complete take-over of Iraq and Syria.
Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approved a bill in January 2020, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country following the assassination of the two anti-terror commanders.