Iran’s Realpolitik & U.S. Sailors

US arrestThe symbolism was stark. Just days before Washington was due to lift billions of dollars of sanctions on Tehran, the Iranians humiliated ten American sailors who were forced to their knees with their hands behind their heads in submission. The photos from the Persian Gulf were flashed around the world showing who is boss in the Persian Gulf. Just hours later, U.S. President Barack Obama ignored the ignominious incident in his last speech to the nation. On the contrary, he lauds the nuclear deal with Iran. And his Secretary of State, John Kerry, even thanks his Iranian counter-part, Javad Zarif, for the subsequent release of the wayward sailors.

In contrast, it brought to mind the words of another U.S. President, John F. Kennedy, albeit in a totally different context. I have introduced some satire to highlight the difference with Obama:


‘Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that… (Obama) we shall bear any humiliation to ensure that my nuclear legacy with Iran survives, at least until I leave the White House in 2017!’

So why did the Iranians chose to tweak Uncle Sam’s nose? It reflected the position of the hard-liners who rule the roost in Tehran despite the charm campaign of President Rouhani that has captured the hearts and minds of Obama and his aides. Ayatollah Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards wanted to make a point. They are playing ball with Obama because that’s their realpolitik, but the radical Shiite world had to be reassured they have not given up the long-term goal of regional hegemony and confrontation with the Big Satan.

In this vein, Jordan’s King Abdullah, who is in the cross hairs of Iran, is worried about Iran’s subversive intervention in the region after the lifting of the sanctions. And the monarch asked what sounded like a rhetorical question.

‘Will the easing of the sanctions help or harm regional stability?’

Secretary Kerry has addressed these concerns that worry the other Arab Sunni states and Israel. First and foremost Saudi Arabia in its current clash with Iran:

‘The U.S. understood the challenges to the Kingdom and what other states feel in the region about interference in their countries, but we also want to see diplomacy work. We want to see if there’s a way, moving forward, to resolve some of the problems without moving to greater conflict. The last thing the region needs is more conflict and I know the King of Saudi Arabia agrees with that’.

Now Secretary Kerry has once again signaled to Iran and the rest of the Middle East that Obama has absolutely no intention of using his big stick.

But are Saudi Arabia and the other Arab Sunni states on the same page as the U.S.? No, they are not. They, like Israel, see the U.S. as siding with Iran’s perception that the nuclear deal is completely separate from all of its other aggressive polices. This includes the recent ballistic missile tests and ongoing support for subversive movements in just about every Middle East state. It is not as if Shiite Iran has now adopted a ‘live and let live’ approach in the Sunni-Shiite clash that it instigated. On the contrary, the concern is that the U.S. has now sided with Shiite Iran and seeks its aid against Daesh in Syria and Iraq. And the bottom line is that everyone suspects that when Obama and Kerry are gone, one day Iran will break out for A-bombs.

Another U.S. President, Teddy Roosevelt, once coined his memorable adage ‘talk softly and carry a big stick’. Now Secretary Kerry has once again signaled to Iran and the rest of the Middle East that Obama has absolutely no intention of using his big stick. It is not hard to predict how an aggressive power like Iran will react.

Sweden’s story …

‘Outrageous, immoral and stupid’ – that’s how Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu responded to the latest charges by Sweden’s Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström. The Swedish official has called for an investigation if Israel has conducted extrajudicial executions of Palestinian attackers during the current wave of terrorism. Wallström made similar allegations in the past and even tried to lay the deadly Daesh attack in Paris at Israel’s door. Netanyahu noted that recently French police shot deadtg a Muslim attacker and wondered if Wallström would also propose a probe of that killing. Former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman quipped:

‘The only thing that Sweden’s Foreign Minister has not done yet is physically join Palestinian terrorists and stab Jews. In light of her conduct now, one really hopes this wont’ happen’.

Tongue in cheek, some commentators have suggested that Wallström may be suffering from Stockholm syndrome. Identifying with Palestinians in light of the Swedish cover-up of Muslim rapes of Swedish young women and girls. But seriously, as for her allegations, let’s look at the facts.

Real cause of current bloodshed…

What is the behind the blood letting of both Palestinians and Israelis? Israeli figures since Sept. 15th, 2015 until Jan. 2nd:

  • Twenty-eight Israelis have been killed and 280 wounded.
  • There have been 100 stabbings, 38 shootings and 22 car rammings with intent to kill. This makes a grand total of 160 attempts to murder Israelis.
  • In addition, the Shabak security service says there have been 620 other incidents, including the throwing of stones and fire-bombs, that can also be lethal
If Palestinians were not trying to shoot, stab or burn Israelis to death in the streets, there would be no casualties on either side.

The total number of Palestinian casualties is hard to come by – it would appear to be four or five times the number of Israelis. Critics of Israel, like Sweden’s foreign minister, are quick to jump on this – (it’s not fair that more Israelis aren’t being killed and injured). But the unvarnished truth is that if Palestinians were not trying to shoot, stab or burn Israelis to death in the streets, there would be no casualties on either side. However, then the argument goes ‘but the Palestinians are only fighting the occupation and for their own state’. If this is so, why don’t they actually try negotiating? They could have achieved their own Palestine numerous times since the Oslo agreement was signed in 1993.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas
PA President Mahmoud Abbas

The answer is simple. It will require them to also recognize Israel as the Jewish state. When have Yasser Arafat or President Mahmoud Abbas ever agreed to do so? The answer is never! Even the ‘moderates’ such as Abbas and Dr. Saeb Erekat totally reject the very idea of a Jewish state. They demand their own state but refuse to accept a Jewish state! Just ask just any Palestinian. They will reply that Jews are not entitled to a state like everyone else. That is the truth about the current bloodshed. Again, just check what every Palestinian official says and not just Hamas or Daesh. After all the rhetoric runs out, this is what remains.

There is another fact that cannot be repudiated – Israel is the homeland of one of the most ancient peoples in world history. It was founded over three thousand years ago and the Jews have created a magnificent cultural and religious heritage over the ages. As long as the Palestinians choose to deny this, they will never have a state of their own, no matter how much Jewish and Palestinian blood they spill.

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