A Special Relationship: How Attacks in Iran Are Linked to Emerging Nuclear Agreement

A missing factor links the recent attacks in Iran with American interests and the developing nuclear agreement. Ultimately, you have to remember that the United States has always used Israel as a tool to achieve its objectives.

Tamir Hayman, the former head of Israel’s military intelligence, told Channel 12 that he supported the nuclear agreement with Iran. He did not say nuclear agreement, he said an “agreed framework.” I have no idea if he knows if there is any added significance to “framework,” or he just used fancy language. His appointment as director of the Institute of National Security Studies following Amos Yadlin was meant to chart a path, and not just sound some kind of “Tora, Tora, Tora” Japanese battle cry.

In the meantime, negotiations on a nuclear agreement are vacillating. Rob Malley, Joe Biden’s representative at the talks, told a Congressional hearing that the negotiations are difficult, that “if they do not move forward, we will return to the sanctions regime.” Malley explained that during the Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu years, the Iranians almost attained a fully operational nuclear weapon. The sanctions, assassinations and bombings were no more than political pyrotechnics. It appears that the government of Naftali Bennett is adamant about recycling Netanyahu’s policies, and Ronen Bergman is reporting on a fighting spirit blowing through the Mossad.

This is where we need to weigh the mysterious element that is linking the recent attacks ascribed to Israel in the streets of Tehran and the stalled nuclear agreement. It’s called “special relations” between the United States and Israel. After we peeled away “our greatest friend” and the rest of the meaningless endearments, we were left with the fact that Israel, always and forever, is a tool America uses to achieve its own interests, whether the president is Trump or Biden. Every Israeli government has been concerned that along the way, by responding to the Americans, America would address Israeli interests.

During Operation Kadesh during the Suez Crisis in Egypt in 1956, we still rode along on the Anglo-French interests, and since 1967, we have been Uncle Sam’s armed satellite state. Brett McGurk, a Washington diplomatic fox who has been involved in all regional disturbances over the past 20 years, explained in a Zoom talk with Amos Gilad at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya that “Israel is the central layer for CENTCOM — the Central Command of the U.S. Army.”

That is almost comparable to how the Kfir Brigade is the central layer of our Central Command.* Two weeks ago, the CENTCOM commander visited here in order to confirm these understandings, so it’s possible to understand the IDF attacks with respect to the dead end in the nuclear talks.

If I had to bet whether the deputy commander of an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps unit was assassinated because he was a ticking time bomb, or that his assassination was a cooperative effort by Israel and the United States to pressure Iran, I would go for the great coordination between the United States and Israel. Any rational person knows that if he or she assassinated an IDF deputy battalion commander, there would immediately be a dozen candidates ready to take his place, and they would all be more or less qualified.

Ma’ariv commentator Tal Lev-Ram believes that “more than the assassination itself, this is a decision in which apparently, is carrying an aggressive message of revenge for operations ascribed to the Iranians and, therefore, is a major story unrelated to the figure who was assassinated in the level of importance … and this is a mega-interesting development that will likely be part of the region for a long time.” The hidden warning here is that going forward, the IDF and the skilled and trained group operated by the Mossad in Iran will regularly conduct assassinations and bombings as part of Western pressure to accelerate the signing of the agreement.

The unmanned Iranian drones that attack targets in Saudi Arabia are part of another American front involving Iran. The price of oil in the United States is skyrocketing in the wake of the war in Ukraine; Biden desperately needs Saudi oil, and is overlooking his commitment to human rights and sanctions against the Saudis (for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi) in favor of the price of gas in the run-up to the U.S. midterm elections. (Read this again if I’m going too fast, but these are the facts.) Now, consider who attacked and destroyed the Iranian drones as part of the regional organizing efforts against Iran, including the involvement of the CENTCOM layer. It is clear that these drones also threaten Israel, but whew, they haven’t caused us damage, while in Saudi Arabia these drones have struck repeatedly.

In the meantime, we applaud all this. A group of legionnaires, according to foreign reports, is working for the Mossad in Iran and is stirring up an operation with the excitement of Hollywood. However, their success is no reason to think that the next round will be quick and that will be it — that is, it will kill 300 people, according to situation estimates by the IDF. On the completely reasonable premise that if and when the agreement is signed leading to a halt in Israeli operations, the Bennett-Gantz-Lapid government will have an opportunity for an alternative policy to the legacy of Trump and Netanyahu by going for a ceasefire in Syria and Lebanon, which would have clear implications with respect to Iran. This would not be a peace agreement, but a type of armistice allowing all sides to invest in a solution to domestic and economic problems instead of spilling treasure and blood, not to speak of going to an all-out war.

The Chinese Front

The Israeli-American story of the nuclear agreement lacks a decisive chapter and that is due to China. As in Iran and Ukraine, the arena includes a battle of titans between the United States and China, among other things. The question is how the Chinese see the nuclear danger, in general, and the Iranian danger, specifically. The logical working assumption says that it is also in China’s interest not to want more nuclear weapon states, and this is the place to try and understand the nature of the Chinese approach in contrast to that of Israel and the West in the nuclear context.

I have the impression that the Chinese view a nuclear weapon in a less alarmist manner than the West. As a somewhat isolated population, particularly over the past century, China was not exposed to the impact of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which has created a sense of panic in the free world since then. I don’t want to imply that this is happening because China has billions of people to spare, but because it doesn’t see nuclear weapons as a mythological or demonic threat. China has resolved to others having a bomb like its own for deterrence, but China intends to dominate the world economically, not militarily.

The United States under Trump launched a trade war with China and increased tariffs on Chinese goods. So? The Chinese softened sanctions on Iran by purchasing oil and made other accommodations. Biden tried to appease the Chinese by reducing tariffs, but drove China crazy by announcing that the United States “would actively defend Taiwan.”

In addition, he announced “U.S.-Asiatic trade cooperation to create a blocking economic body against China.”] So? From now on, the Chinese will not be in a hurry to pressure the Iranians to sign a nuclear agreement. The American Central Command is pushing Israel to conduct attacks in Tehran until the Ayatollahs agree.

If and when even Bennett understands that the Americans (and their partners in the nuclear negotiations) have reached an agreement, the need for threats, assassinations and bombings “made in Israel” will dissipate. The United States will compensate us in exchange with arms “made in the U.S.” to Homesh; the important thing is that no American soldier comes home in a body bag.

*Editor’s Note: The 900th “Kfir” Brigade is the youngest and largest infantry brigade of the Israel Defense Forces.

About this publication

About Charles Railey 43 Articles
I recently retired from the federal government, having worked for many years on Middle East issues and regional media. My fascination with the region has never changed and this is one reason why the work of Watching America caught my eye. I live in the DC area with my wife, two grown children, and three cats.

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