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Source: National Post

Nov 20, 2023

Obama's blunders created the Iranian threat terrorizing Israel

There will be no peace until regime change in Tehran

By Terry Glavin

While all eyes have been on Gaza. . .

“Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse the Jews, Victory to Islam.”

That helpfully straightforward standpoint is the official slogan of the Iranian-backed Ansarullah regime in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. Based in Yemen’s Houthi minority, Ansarullah has been engaged in an on-again, off-again civil war with Yemen’s UN-recognized government for nearly a decade.

After having fought a Saudi-led coalition to a stalemate at the cost of roughly 375,000 lives, Ansarullah is now united with its adversaries in Yemen’s official government in bloodcurdling anti-Israel histrionics, and it’s not just sloganeering anymore. It’s drones, rockets and missiles.

In the six weeks since Hamas and Islamic Jihad invaded Israel, slaughtering roughly 1,200 civilians and kidnapping 239, Hamas has fired thousands of rockets into Israel. It is only now that the Israeli Defence Forces are methodically obliterating the capacity of the Gaza-based terrorist organization that Hamas rocket attacks have dropped from roughly 100 a day to fewer than 20.

But fire from Yemen is now targeting Israel, too, and it’s not clear whether Israel’s Iron Dome system would be capable of sustaining a defence against the Ansarullah arsenal, which is far superior to the ordnance available to Hamas.

Two weeks before the Oct. 7 massacres in southern Israel, Ansarullah staged a military parade in Sanaa revealing several types of Iranian-origin cruise missiles and ballistic missiles that Ansarullah had not been known to possess. Among them: precision-guided liquid-propellant “Toufan” missiles, a rebranded version of the Iranian Ghadr missile with a potential range of up to 1,950 kilometres. That puts the Israeli Red Sea port city of Eilat within striking distance.

In the weeks since Oct. 7, Israeli fighter jets and Israel’s Arrow air defense system have intercepted several Ansurallah barrages of surface-to-surface missiles and drones. None of the attacks have penetrated Israeli airspace — yet. U.S. warships in the Red Sea have also been targeted by drones launched from Yemen.

On Israel’s northern border, meanwhile, skirmishes with Iran’s Hezbollah proxy have been mounting daily. Israel has responded to Hezbollah rockets with punishing airstrikes. Three Israeli civilians have been killed, along with six IDF soldiers. Among the roughly 100 dead in the Hezbollah-controlled Lebanese frontier area, the IDF counts 74 Hezbollah members, eight Palestinian terrorists, several civilians and a Reuters journalist.

While Israel says it intends to keep focused on Gaza, the wider war cannot long be ignored. Hezbollah is now equipped with a far more substantial arsenal than dozens of United Nations member states. At the onset of the 2007 Hezbollah war, Hezbollah’s weaponry included roughly 15,000 fairly sophisticated missiles. Despite the routine Israeli airstrikes on missile shipments crossing through Syria to its bases in Lebanon in recent years, Hezbollah is believed to have now stockpiled 150,000 rockets and missiles, 400 of which are long-range missiles capable of hitting any target anywhere in Israel.

But fighting on a “third front” is Israel’s bigger worry. Over the past three years, after having leveraged Iraq into accepting Iranian militias into a quasi-independent chain of command, Iran’s Quds Force has been exerting overpowering influence in Syria to shore up the Baathist dictatorship of Bashar Assad. Beginning in 2018, several Quds Force militias that had been dispatched to Syria to put down the Arab Spring uprisings have been directly integrated into Assad’s army and security services.

The Centre for Strategic and International Studies reckons that Iran’s various armed groups in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Bahrain — some recruited from as far away as Afghanistan and Pakistan — now number about 250,000 fighters.

Ever since the Khomeinists seized power in 1979, Iran has distinguished itself as the world’s major state sponsor of jihad. But how it came to pass that the Khomeinists managed to establish themselves as a malevolent, destabilizing force in several Arab-majority states is a reflection of American and European foreign-policy incoherence that goes back several years.

It’s a policy approach that began in the Obama administration, and was immediately reconstituted following Joe Biden’s inauguration in 2021. It has lasted throughout several mass uprisings and popular revolts in Iran that have come close to toppling the regime. It’s a policy that requires the Khomeinist regime’s persistence to “balance” the Middle East’s major Arab states.

Barack Obama set out to secure that geopolitical rearrangement through negotiations for a nuclear-weapons agreement. The idea was that Iran would be provided with full sanctions relief and diplomatic normalization in exchange for routine inspections of its nuclear program by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Obama was so determined that this rapprochement should serve as his foreign policy legacy that in 2013, he allowed Bashar Assad to cross his “red line” on the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian Arab Spring uprising. Assad crossed that line by resorting to the worst deployment of weapons of mass destruction in the 21stcentury — the 2013 slaughter of 1,400 civilians by sarin gas in Eastern Ghouta and Moudamiyat al-Cham.

Iran threatened to walk away from the U.S.-led nuclear talks if Obama acted to significantly disrupt the Baathist regime in Damascus. To keep Iran at the table, Obama invited Moscow to intervene in Syria as a sort of pantomime overseer. Assad merely shifted from Sarin gas to chlorine and a crude form of napalm. The Russian airforce joined Assad in slaughtering more than 500,000 Syrians, and Iran ended up Assad’s primary puppeteer.

The rise of Russia and Iran across the Middle East reduced the region to its bloodiest upheavals since the Medieval era.

The primary architect of Obama’s strategy, conflict-resolution specialist Robert Malley, was brought back by President Joe Biden in January 2021, to revive Obama’s plans, which had been scrapped in a series of isolationist moves during the Trump administration.

And then last summer, Malley’s security clearance was revoked and he was placed on unpaid leave pending a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into his handling of classified intelligence that somehow ended up in Tehran.

Malley was removed from the scene around the same time as a major scandal erupted involving an Iranian influence operation revealed by Iran International and the investigative Semafor group. The centre of the scandal is Tehran’s “Iran Experts Initiative,” which had infiltrated senior policy-making circles in and around Washington, D.C.

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