Iran Expected to Be Focus of Trump-Netanyahu Meeting
By Sarah Ann Haves
U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington on February 15, 2017 for what should be an historic meeting and a new start for both countries. Iran is a topic that Middle East analysts expect will be the main focus of the White House discussions.
Major General (res.) Yaacov Amidror, former National Security Advisor to Netanyahu, thinks that the U.S. and Israel will focus on how to succeed in preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear state at the end of the 15 year Iran nuclear deal. This agreement, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed by the P5+1 nations (the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Russia and China), plus the EU, in 2015.
According to Amidror, “The bad agreement which was signed by the previous (Obama) Administration might lead to a situation in which, at the end of that period, the Iranians will be in a better position to acquire military nuclear capability and Israel will face a stronger Iran than before.”
That kind of legitimacy given to Iran by the previous American government has contributed to an overall sense that the agreement was not good for Israel or for the United States. Amidror thinks this will lead to better cooperation between both allies in the future.
The other concern that Trump and Netanyahu are expected to discuss has to do with Iran’s long military reach – not just its strategic arms expansion in the Middle East – but how that is affecting global stability.
Amidror explains that the two allies will also have to figure out, along with other countries, how to contain Iran, to destroy ISIS, and to stop radical Islam, which has strengthened its grip on the Middle East. “Israel and the Americans, here in this case, have a historic moment in which they can build something totally new, based on the same interest – that which we are sharing with so many Arab countries in the Middle East.
|Partnerships between Israel
and the Gulf Countries
are becoming public…
Reportedly, Netanyahu spoke with Jordan’s King Abdullah, and Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi before embarking on his trip to America. Partnerships between Israel and the Gulf Countries are becoming more known, publicly, and it is no secret that these nations, along with Saudi Arabia, see Israel as providing a military umbrella if Iran’s hegemonic ambitions are not contained.
Trump, as well, has been talking with Arab leaders, and some analysts speculate that Egypt may be working behind the scenes in trying to establish an Arab peace deal with Israel.
Ambassador Dennis Ross, a Distinguished Fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, thinks that Netanyahu will want to talk to Trump about the importance of teaming up with Sunni Arab countries. “The level of cooperation between Israel and the leading Sunni states, vis-à-vis Iran, and vis-à-vis ISIS, is an asset for the U.S. And, we should be thinking of how to take advantage of it, and what more can be done to take advantage of it, both to counter the Iranians and to counter ISIS.”
Israel could become part of a U.S-led Middle East coalition; a moderate bloc with Sunni Arabs states, to crush ISIS. But, Israel is also worried about Iran’s influence on its norther border with Syria, where Hezbollah, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, and Shia militias have had an increased presence. They have propped up the army of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Ross says the agenda between the U.S. and Israel should include a strategic approach to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Ross does not believe that Netanyahu is against U.S.-Russian cooperation.
“He wants to be sure that, at a minimum, that whatever comes out of Syria, it can’t be a new front that Israel faces on its border, with the Revolutionary Guards and with Hezbollah.”
That is also a concern of Israeli Brigadier General (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser. He states that if Iran has its way, Syria could become a base from which the Iranians would exert their military power in the Middle East and beyond.
“This possibility that they will have a contiguous axis, starting in Iran and ending in the Mediterranean with Hezbollah, is something that we all should be extremely worried about. This has to stop.”
|Netanyahu wants the flow
of weapons from Iran
The Russian military build-up in Syria is problematic for Israel. Netanyahu has met with Putin several times in past months, not only making sure that there is no accidental conflagration between Israel and Russia over Syria. Netanyahu also wants the continuous flow of weapons from Iran through Syria to Hezbollah to cease.
So far, Russia has been passive when Israel has gained intelligence information and knocked out some of these arms shipments. But, how long will that last? Also, Russia has, reportedly, built a strong military base in Syria, including the possible placement of anti-missile defense systems in the country, which would make it more difficult for targeted Israeli airstrikes against Syrian aggression in the future.
For now, if Trump is able to get Russia to distance itself from Iranian influence in Syria, encouraging the Russians to move diplomatically closer to Turkey, Ross thinks that would be a positive step.
Meanwhile, Amidror says much depends on what will happen in the Middle East, and how Israel will be integrated into American efforts. “It is known that when a new administration is coming in, it takes time to shape the policy.”
Both men would agree that the meetings between the U.S. and Israel will be publicly deemed successful, because Trump and Netanyahu want to move forward from the negativity that existed between Israel and the former Obama Administration.
According to Ross, “There is a strong presumption to send a message of how close things are between the two leaders.”
There’s also an excitement building in Washington that the U.S. and Israel will make the effort to be on the same page strategically and practically. Furthermore, that the strategic alliance between both countries will be brought to a higher level, because the Israeli and American people want it that way.
“There are many plans in a man’s heart. Nevertheless, the LORD’S counsel – that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21
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Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues in Israel and the nations.