Israel fears Obama leading Mid-East towards catastrophe: Report
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Last Updated: Tuesday, December 03, 2013, 14:21
  
Jerusalem: The Israeli political-security establishment is increasingly concerned by an American desire to reach a final deal with Iran regardless of the price, with some officials accusing US President Barack Obama of leading the region towards a catastrophe, a media report said on Tuesday.

Despite the differences the formal channels of communication between Washington and Tel Aviv continue to exist, but Israeli officials believe that in the situation born out of the post-Geneva agreement, the Jewish state has pretty much lost its ability to influence Obama regarding Iran and other international issues, news portal Ynetnews reported.

To make matters worse, even those who oppose publicly clashing with America say that de facto contact between the policy makers in Obama's White House and Tel Aviv has been effectively cut off leading to the worst crisis in bilateral relations in the last two decades, the report said.

Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid yesterday said that the US remains Israel's most "strategic asset," but some in Tel Aviv have no problem openly saying that Obama is leading the region towards a catastrophe, the news portal said.

Israeli officials believe that Obama has fortified himself behind a small and closed ideological circle, which believes in partial non-interventionism and has an aversion to international conflicts not only in the Middle East but also in South East Asia.

With regard to Iran, this circle reportedly believes in pursuing a permanent deal that allows Iran to reach the nuclear threshold, while containing the nuclear programme in such a way that will bar Iran from ever crossing the threshold or attaining a nuclear weapon without the West noticing.

Israeli officials contend that if this outline becomes a reality, it would be nothing short of a disaster for Israel.

"It would mean Iran will be three months away from creating the material it needs for a first nuclear bomb," they said, arguing that there has been no real progress in Iran's "arms group", the group which develops the prototype for the Iran's nuclear centers and then its warheads.

"In Israel there are those that believe that Obama's administration is eager, if not to say anxious, to reach an agreement, maybe even more than the Iranians who are suffering because of the massive sanctions enacted against them," the news portal's analyst wrote.

They think that the American desire to reach an agreement originates from Obama's inner circle which wants the administration to survive the next three years without conflict, he said.

The prevalent assessment, in both Tel Aviv and some other regional countries, is that members of the US President's inner circle stem from the left wing of the Democratic Party and believes that the Iraq and Afghanistan have tired the US public from bloodshed, and is thus interested in an administration that will focus on domestic issues like economic and social policy.

In an attempt to secure another Presidential term for the Democrats in 2016, this group wants the US to be free of new international entanglements.

As a result, Western officials are said to believe that the US has lost its ability to efficiently conduct diplomacy as well as its ability to undertake clandestine operations, like assisting certain groups among the Syrian rebels.

The changed approach has hurt US' standing from being the leading regional superpower in the Middle East, as well as most of the world, to becoming a force "leading from behind."

The US thus has moved aside and now allows other nations to lead the handling of international crises, like the French-led efforts in Libya and Russian management of the Syrian crisis, the analyst argued.

Russian President Vladimir Putin forcing Obama into accepting the his solution for Syrian chemical disbarment is also being seen as a result of US' changed approach.

Israeli officials, however, believe that the deal eventually reached with regard to Syria is positive, and seems to be on course as per plans, the report said.

Tel Aviv considers Iran's nuclear programme an existential threat and does not want Tehran to remain a hop, scotch and a leap from nuclear capabilities, but to completely strip it of its ability to enrich uranium and to create plutonium.

Israel's minimum demand is that any agreement with Tehran should push its nuclear programme at least two or three years back.

Israel's diplomatic-security establishment feels that the current agreement does not take into account the Israeli position, and has reiterated that it will not compromise on a number of key points and is adamant in its determination to prevent the interim agreement from turning into a permanent one.

Israel and some other Midle Eastern countries feel that as a result of the Geneva agreement and the events leading up to it, especially what has been characterised as Iranian President Hassan Rohani and Foreign Minister Javed Zarif's 'charm offensive', Tehran managed to pull itself out of international isolation and is now gaining more and more influence in the region.

The most immediate winner of this process is the axis of radical Shiites, which as Iran's proxy are also gaining power at the expense of the Sunni bloc led by Saudi Arabia, which bridges between Gulf States, Turkey and Egypt.

Many political analysts in Israel believe that a crisis of confidence of this magnitude has not been felt between US and Israel for over two decades.

PTI

First Published: Tuesday, December 03, 2013, 14:21


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