Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United States

The Stratfor analysis reprinted below is interesting but has
least one glaring error as well as many dubious conclusions.

According to the Stratfor analysis,

The logic here suggests a process leading to the elimination of all sanctions in exchange for the supervision of Iran’s nuclear activities to prevent it from developing a weapon. Unless this is an Iranian trick to somehow buy time to complete a weapon and test it, I would think that the deal could be done in six months. An Iranian ploy to create cover for building a weapon would also demand a reliable missile and a launch pad invisible to surveillance satellites and the CIA, National Security Agency, Mossad, MI6 and other intelligence agencies. The Iranians would likely fail at this, triggering airstrikes however risky they might be and putting Iran back where it started economically. While this is a possibility, the scenario is not likely when analyzed closely. [Emphasis added.]

However, Iran is understood already to have and to produce many ballastic missiles, including the following:

Iranian Grad missile

Medium range (MRBM)

Medium range missiles are considered to have a range between 1000 and 3000 kilometers.

Short range (SRBM)

Short range missiles are considered to have a range up to 1000 kilometers.

  • Shahab-1 – Tactical SRBM with a range of 350 km. Copy of Soviet SS-1C/Scud-B[67]
  • Shahab-2 – Tactical SRBM with a range of 750 km. Copy of Soviet SS-1D/Scud-C [68]
  • Naze’at – Unguided rocket series.
  • Fateh-110 – single-stage solid-propellant SRBM with a range of 200 km
  • Zelzal 1/2/3/3B – Single-stage SRBM with a range of 200 to 400 km [69][70][71]
  • Qiam 1 – Tactical SRBM with a range of 750 km. Uses liquid fuel and has a smart targeting system.[72]

Cruise missiles

Nasr-1 – Iranian made short range missiles.

Meshkat – Iranian cruise missile with range of 2000 kilometers.(under development)

Qader – Iranian anti-ship cruise missile with a range over 200 km.

Acording to a map provided here, Israel is 1,787.62 KM from Iran, well within the range of at least some of Iran’s existing medium range missiles. Additional information can be found here.

Despite Stratfor’s suggestion that to pose a credible threat to Israel she would need to develop missile capability, it appears that she already has plenty of missiles. Due to the speed with which missiles travel, great launch concealment seems hardly necessary. Moreover, the text of the deal on which the parties agreed in Geneva mentions neither further missile nor launch position development. It cannot therefore be viewed realistically as precluding either.

While the negotiations with Iran were progressing in Geneva, Iran broadcast this video on state television of a simulation of a “counter attack” on Israel. It seems likely that an initial strike on Israel would be substantially easier than a counter attack following an Israeli attack on Iran.

Here is the full text of the Stratfor analysis. My comments are indented and in italics. All bold face emphasis is mine.

* * * * * * * * * *

Israelis, Saudis and the Iranian Agreement

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2013 – 04:04  


By George Friedman

A deal between Iran and the P-5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany) was reached Saturday night. The Iranians agreed to certain limitations on their nuclear program while the P-5+1 agreed to remove certain economic sanctions. The next negotiation, scheduled for six months from now depending on both sides’ adherence to the current agreement, will seek a more permanent resolution. The key players in this were the United States and Iran. The mere fact that the U.S. secretary of state would meet openly with the Iranian foreign minister would have been difficult to imagine a few months ago, and unthinkable at the beginning of the Islamic republic.

The U.S. goal is to eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons before they are built, without the United States having to take military action to eliminate them. While it is commonly assumed that the United States could eliminate the Iranian nuclear program at will with airstrikes, as with most military actions, doing so would be more difficult and riskier than it might appear at first glance. The United States in effect has now traded a risky and unpredictable air campaign for some controls over the Iranian nuclear program.

Negotiations with Iran are, at best, no less “risky and unpredictable” than a strong and well executed military effort.

The Iranians’ primary goal is regime preservation. While Tehran managed the Green Revolution in 2009 because the protesters lacked broad public support, Western sanctions have dramatically increased the economic pressure on Iran and have affected a wide swath of the Iranian public. It isn’t clear that public unhappiness has reached a breaking point, but were the public to be facing years of economic dysfunction, the future would be unpredictable. The election of President Hassan Rouhani to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after the latter’s two terms was a sign of unhappiness. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei clearly noted this, displaying a willingness to trade a nuclear program that had not yet produced a weapon for the elimination of some sanctions. [Emphasis added.]

The Supreme Leader may have “display[ed] a willingness,” but displays of willingness and the reality of willingness are different matters entirely. Even during the negotiations, he also displayed an abiding hatred of Israel, which he contended is doomed to extinction. In addition,

“He called Jews ‘rabid dogs’ and said that they were not human. The public responded to him with calls of ‘Death to America! Death to Israel!’ Doesn’t this sound familiar to you? This is the real Iran! We are not confused,” he said. 

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman compared Khamenei’s rhetoric to that used by Nazi Germany.

“Whoever talks about the Jews using the terminology of Goebbels and Hitler certainly has no intention to develop a nuclear program for peaceful purposes,” said.

The logic here suggests a process leading to the elimination of all sanctions in exchange for the supervision of Iran’s nuclear activities to prevent it from developing a weapon. Unless this is an Iranian trick to somehow buy time to complete a weapon and test it, I would think that the deal could be done in six monthsAn Iranian ploy to create cover for building a weapon would also demand a reliable missile and a launch pad invisible to surveillance satellites and the CIA, National Security Agency, Mossad, MI6 and other intelligence agencies. The Iranians would likely fail at this, triggering airstrikes however risky they might be and putting Iran back where it started economically. While this is a possibility, the scenario is not likely when analyzed closely. [Emphasis added.]

Iran is well known for her tricks to buy time and President Rouhani has bragged about them.

Please see also my comments at the beginning of this article.

While the unfolding deal involves the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany, two countries intensely oppose it: Israel and Saudi Arabia. Though not powers on the order of the P-5+1, they are still significant. There is a bit of irony in Israel and Saudi Arabia being allied on this issue, but only on the surface. Both have been intense enemies of Iran, and close allies of the United States; each sees this act as a betrayal of its relationship with Washington. [Emphasis added.]

Fir whatever it may be worth, the enmity of Iran toward Saudi Arabia and Israel seems to have been greater than theirs toward Iran.

The View from Saudi Arabia

In a way, this marks a deeper shift in relations with Saudi Arabia than with Israel. Saudi Arabia has been under British and later American protection since its creation after World War I. Under the leadership of the Sauds, it became a critical player in the global system for a single reason: It was a massive producer of oil. It was also the protector of Mecca and Medina, two Muslim holy cities, giving the Saudis an added influence in the Islamic world on top of their extraordinary wealth.

It was in British and American interests to protect Saudi Arabia from its enemies, most of which were part of the Muslim world. The United States protected the Saudis from radical Arab socialists who threatened to overthrow the monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula. It later protected Saudi Arabia from Saddam Hussein after he invaded Kuwait. But it also protected Saudi Arabia from Iran.

Absent the United States in the Persian Gulf, Iran would have been the most powerful regional military power. In addition, the Saudis have a substantial Shiite minority concentrated in the country’s oil-rich east. The Iranians, also Shia, had a potential affinity with them, and thereby the power to cause unrest in Saudi Arabia. [Emphasis added.]

Since the ObamaAdministration seems to be withdrawing substatially from the Middle East, isn’t Iran likely to become “the most powerful regional power there?”

Until this agreement with Iran, the United States had an unhedged commitment to protect Saudi Arabia from the Iranians. Given the recent deal, and potential follow-on deals, this commitment becomes increasingly hedged. The problem from the Saudi point of view is that while there was a wide ideological gulf between the United States and Iran, there was little in the way of substantial issues separating Washington from Tehran. The United States did not want Iran to develop nuclear weapons. The Iranians didn’t want the United States hindering Iran’s economic development. The fact was that getting a nuclear weapon was not a fundamental Iranian interest, and crippling Iran’s economy was not a fundamental interest to the United States absent an Iranian nuclear program. [Emphasis added.]

The distinction between a wide “ideological gulf” and “substantial issues” is, at best, puzzling. Are Iran’s historic and continuing threats against Israel not ideological/religious in nature? Are they not “substantial issues?”

If getting a nuclear weapon was not a “fundamental Iranian interest,” what reasonable explanation is there for her substantial expenditures of resources to pursue her nuclear ambitions and delivery systems? 

If the United States and Iran can agree on this quid pro quo, the basic issues are settled. And there is something drawing them together. The Iranians want investment in their oil sector and other parts of their economy. American oil companies would love to invest in Iran, as would other U.S. businesses. As the core issue separating the two countries dissolves, and economic relations open up — a step that almost by definition will form part of a final agreement — mutual interests will appear.

There are other significant political issues that can’t be publicly addressed. The United States wants Iran to temper its support for Hezbollah’s militancy, and guarantee it will not support terrorism. The Iranians want guarantees that Iraq will not develop an anti-Iranian government, and that the United States will work to prevent this. (Iran’s memories of its war with Iraq run deep.) The Iranians will also want American guarantees that Washington will not support anti-Iranian forces based in Iraq. [Emphasis added.]

Iran has been one of, if not the, most prolific sponsors of terrorism for a long time. That has required the expenditure of substantial resources. Her “right” to sponsor terrorism is not likely to be relinquished.

How can the United States possibly guarantee that “Iraq will not develop an anti-Iranian government?” Our influence there, as elsewhere in the Middle East, continues to decline. As to guarantees that we “will not support anti-Iranian forces based in Iraq,” that should not be very difficult, due to our diminished influence there as well as in most of the Middle East.

From the Saudi point of view, Iranian demands regarding Iraq will be of greatest concern. Agreements or not, it does not want a pro-Iranian Shiite state on its northern border. Riyadh has been funding Sunni fighters throughout the region against Shiite fighters in a proxy war with Iran. Any agreement by the Americans to respect Iranian interests in Iraq would represent a threat to Saudi Arabia.

Since the United States appear to be abandoning Saudi Arabia and accordingly to be paying little attention to her strategic interests (or, for that matter, to her own)  any “guarantee” that Iraq “will not develop an anti-Iranian government (see above) would be worth little if anything.

The View from Israel

From the Israeli point of view, there are two threats from Iran. One is the nuclear program. The other is Iranian support not only for Hezbollah but also for Hamas and other groups in the region. Iran is far from Israel and poses no conventional military threat. The Israelis would be delighted if Iran gave up its nuclear program in some verifiable way, simply because they themselves have no reliable means to destroy that program militarily. What the Israelis don’t want to see is the United States and Iran making deals on their side issues, especially the political ones that really matter to Israel. [Emphasis added.]

As to Israel’s inability to destroy Iran’s nuclear program militarily, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu appears to disagree. An Israeli attack would be difficult, but possible. A well executed electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, with or without Saudia Arabia’s active or tacit assistance, would  likely be the easiest and best way to proceed.

The Israelis have more room to maneuver than the Saudis do. Israel can live with a pro-Iranian Iraq. The Saudis can’t; from their point of view, it is only a matter of time before Iranian power starts to encroach on their sphere of influence. The Saudis can’t live with an Iranian-supported Hezbollah. The Israelis can and have, but don’t want to; the issue is less fundamental to the Israelis than Iraq is to the Saudis.

But in the end, this is not the problem that the Saudis and Israelis have. Their problem is that both depend on the United States for their national security. Neither country can permanently exist in a region filled with dangers without the United States as a guarantor. Israel needs access to American military equipment that it can’t build itself, like fighter aircraft. Saudi Arabia needs to have American troops available as the ultimate guarantor of their security, as they were in 1990. Israel and Saudi Arabia have been the two countries with the greatest influence in Washington. As this agreement shows, that is no longer the case. Both together weren’t strong enough to block this agreement. What frightens them the most about this agreement is that fact. If the foundation of their national security is the American commitment to them, then the inability to influence Washington is a threat to their national security.

Regardless of whether Israel and Saudi Arabia can “permanently exist” without the United States as a guarantor, Obama’s America appears to be well on her way toward ceasing to be a reliable guarantor for both.

There are no other guarantors available. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to Moscow, clearly trying to get the Russians to block the agreement. He failed. But even if he had succeeded, he would have alienated the United States, and would have gotten instead a patron incapable of supplying the type of equipment Israel might need when Israel might need it. The fact is that neither the Saudis nor the Israelis have a potential patron other than the United States.

U.S. Regional Policy

The United States is not abandoning either Israel or Saudi Arabia. A regional policy based solely on the Iranians would be irrational. What the United States wants to do is retain its relationship with Israel and Saudi Arabia, but on modified terms. The modification is that U.S. support will come in the context of a balance of power, particularly between Iran and Saudi Arabia. While the United States is prepared to support the Saudis in that context, it will not simply support them absolutely. The Saudis and Israelis will have to live with things that they have not had to live with before — namely, an American concern for a reasonably strong and stable Iran regardless of its ideology. [Emphasis added.]

“Irrational?” Compared to what? Please see also my comments above.

The American strategy is built on experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. Washington has learned that it has interests in the region, but that the direct use of American force cannot achieve those goals, partly because imposing solutions takes more force than the United States has and partly because the more force it uses, the more resistance it generates. Therefore, the United States needs a means of minimizing its interests, and pursuing those it has without direct force.

Cuts in the U.S. military budget have been one factor. Absurd rules of engagement, intended to avoid offending Islamists rather than to help our troops remain alive and effective, combined with use of our military as a social laboratory to experiment with political correctness, have certainly diminished the effectiveness of what military resources remain. Hence, U.S. military action or the threat of military action may well no longer be viable. Both should be.

With its interests being limited, the United States’ strategy is a balance of power. The most natural balance of power is Sunni versus Shia, the Arabs against the Iranians. The goal is not war, but sufficient force on each side to paralyze the other. In that sense, a stable Iran and a more self-reliant Saudi Arabia are needed. Saudi Arabia is not abandoned, but nor is it the sole interest of the United States. [Emphasis added.]

It would indeed be great were both the Sunni and Shia forces paralized. However, that seems unlikely to happen under the ObamaAdministration.

In the same sense, the United States is committed to the survival of Israel. If Iranian nuclear weapons are prevented, the United States has fulfilled that commitment, since there are no current threats that could conceivably threaten Israeli survival. Israel’s other interests, such as building settlements in the West Bank, do not require American support. If the United States determines that they do not serve American interests (for example, because they radicalize the region and threaten the survival of Jordan), then the United States will force Israel to abandon the settlements by threatening to change its relationship with Israel. If the settlements do not threaten American interests, then they are Israel’s problem.

A nuclear threat from Iran is only one existential threat facing Israel. A rabid Palestine, long a principal proponent of jihad in Israel (with support from Iran) is another. The mistaken view of the ObamaAdministration that the failure of Israel to give Palestinian negotiators all they seek in exchange from a transitory “peace” is being forced upon Israel. Perhaps, in view of the current U.S. position on Iran, Israel will become increasingly unwilling to yield to U.S. pressure as to the “peace process.”  She should.

Israel has outgrown its dependence on the United States. It is not clear that Israel is comfortable with its own maturation, but the United States has entered a new period where what America wants is a mature Israel that can pursue its interests without recourse to the United States. And if Israel finds it cannot have what it wants without American support, Israel may not get that support, unless Israel’s survival is at stake. [Emphasis added.]

But cf. this from Stratfor, supra: Israel needs access to American military equipment that it can’t build itself, like fighter aircraft.

Israel and the United States have, until recently, had a symbiotic relationship. An illuminating article is provided at the link. Among many other aspects, the linked article notes:

The scope of military intelligence transferred by Israel to the U.S. exceeds that which is transferred by all NATO countries combined. Israeli intelligence, shared with the U.S., plays a key role in U.S. counterterrorism efforts in general, and the campaign against Iran’s nuclearization, in particular.

According to the late General Alexander Haig, who was supreme commander of NATO and U.S. secretary of state: “Israel is the largest American aircraft carrier, which does not require a single U.S. aircraft or boot on board; cannot be sunk; and is deployed in a vital area for critical U.S. commercial and military interests. If there were not a Jewish state in the eastern flank of the Mediterranean, then the U.S. would have to deploy additional aircraft carriers and tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers to the Mediterranean. It would have cost the American taxpayers some $15 billion annually, which is spared by a viable Jewish state.”

To the extent that America needs Israeli intelligence, leaks from the ObamaAdministration seem likely to diminish Israel’s willingness to provide it.

In the same sense, the perpetual Saudi inability to create an armed force capable of effectively defending itself has led the United States to send troops on occasion — and contractors always — to deal with the problem. Under the new strategy, the expectation is that Saudi soldiers will fight Saudi Arabia’s wars — with American assistance as needed, but not as an alternative force.

With this opening to Iran, the United States will no longer be bound by its Israeli and Saudi relationships. They will not be abandoned, but the United States has broader interests than those relationships, and at the same time few interests that rise to the level of prompting it to directly involve U.S. troops. The Saudis will have to exert themselves to balance the Iranians, and Israel will have to wend its way in a world where it has no strategic threats, but only strategic problems, like everyone else has. It is not a world in which Israeli or Saudi rigidity can sustain itself. [Emphasis added.’

No strategic threats?” Well, hardly any, aside from an hostile and at least potentially nuclear Iran dedicated to her destruction, Islamic jihad, the requirements imposed by the ObamaAdministration that she yield to nearly any Palestinian demands that would grossly impair her tactical and strategic abilities to defend herself from Palestinian missile attacks and that sort of thing which must be viewed as merely petty nuisances — like a stage four cancer.

Israelis, Saudis and the Iranian Agreement is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

 * * * * * * * * * *

About danmillerinpanama

I was graduated from Yale University in 1963 with a B.A. in economics and from the University of Virginia School of law, where I was the notes editor of the Virginia Law Review in 1966. Following four years of active duty with the Army JAG Corps, with two tours in Korea, I entered private practice in Washington, D.C. specializing in communications law. I retired in 1996 to sail with my wife, Jeanie, on our sailboat Namaste to and in the Caribbean. In 2002, we settled in the Republic of Panama and live in a very rural area up in the mountains. I have contributed to Pajamas Media and Pajamas Tatler. In addition to my own blog, Dan Miller in Panama, I an an editor of Warsclerotic and contribute to China Daily Mail when I have something to write about North Korea.
This entry was posted in 2014, Atomic bomb, History, Ideology, Iran, Iranian Election, Islamic rage, Islamists, Israel, Jews, Khamenei, Libruls, Middle East, Military, Missile launch, Muslims, Netanyahu, New Deal, Nuclear weapons, Obama, Obama's America Now, P5+1, Peace and Love, Politics, Russia, Sanctions, Saudi Arabia, Stratfor, Trust, U.S. Military, Uncategorized, United States and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United States

  1. Pingback: Peace in Our Time Awaits? | danmillerinpanama

  2. bliffle says:

    We brought most of this ‘anti-USA’ hate down on our own heads by sponsoring the CIA coup against Mossadegh in 1953. After all, he was democratically elected, as we tell people they should appoint leaders. And then we appointed the Shah, an aristocratic control-freak, and we sponsored the development of the Shahs secret police as a terrorist organization.

    Maybe the Iranians have a little difficulty following our moods and change direction as our leaders wobble back and forth. Can’t blame them for seeking security in weapons.

    Even with all the insults the USA has inflicted on Iran it’s surprising we have as good a chance as we do to find accomodation there.

    Suppose that we took as hard a line with Israel over their many transgressions against the USA as the 1979 Iran revolution? Suppose we were as tough on Israel for murdering 34 US sailors on the USS Liberty in 1969? Suppose we were as tough as we could be against the numerous spies Israel has planted in our government? Suppose we were tough about the people killed in the Israeli blockade a couple years ago?

  3. Cry and Howl says:

    Hello Dan Miller!
    Just a note to wish you and your loved ones a happy, safe and blessed Thanksgiving!

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