Vladimir Putin’s proposed changes to the Russian constitution portend a shift toward one-party rule and lay out a framework by which he can continue to be a major power broker well beyond the end of his presidential tenure in 2024.
Israel’s air force has been unrelenting in its determination to prevent the introduction by Iran into Syria of a massive supply of precision-guided missiles to be used against Israel. The IAF is also striking consistently and forcefully at Tehran’s attempts to establish a local Iranian-run weapons armament industry in Syria. With these efforts, Israel is forcing Iran to take these projects underground. That is an expensive proposition—and all the more difficult following the reimposition of US sanctions.
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, chief of Tehran’s Lebanese proxy terror group Hezbollah, made a speech earlier this month encouraging the killing of every American soldier and officer in the Middle East. It is not every day that a terrorist leader expressly calls for the mass killing of Americans. Will Trump respond?
Kuwait and Saudi Arabia recently announced that they were revoking the citizenship of individuals whose “sin” was a connection to Judaism and a pro-Israeli attitude. Apart from the institutional antisemitism these measures reflect, they are a blunt reminder that these are tyrannical states and regimes in which the legal system is little more than a fig leaf.
The killing by the US of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani will not temper Tehran’s intention to continue its aggressive regional policy, either directly or through its proxy organizations. Israel would do well to continue the cautious policy that has characterized its surgical military strikes against Iran’s entrenchment in Syria.
Dr. Raphael G. Bouchnik-Chen is a retired colonel who served as a senior analyst in IDF Military Intelligence.
Iran’s prevarications about its responsibility for the shooting down of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 during the recent escalation of tensions with the US magnify its culpability and could lay it open to reparations claims by Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, and the UK, all of which lost citizens in the disaster.
2020 is expected to be another year of fruitful cooperation for Israel, Greece, and Cyprus, which are working together to counter rising instability caused by Turkey. Their recent agreement to commit to the construction of the EastMed pipeline opens a new chapter in a friendship they have worked on for over a decade. They are taking steps to obtain American support for the trilateral scheme despite Washington’s concerns about its potential impact on the US’s long-term partnership with Ankara. Notably, the recent killing by the US of Quds commander Qassem Soleimani found Greece standing by its allies, the US and Israel, though that position risks undermining its relations with Iran.
Last week’s inauguration of a new Egyptian military base on the Red Sea was heavy with the symbolism of the rivalries shaping the future of the Middle East as well as north and east Africa.
The vast Leviathan natural gas field off the Haifa coast could be a game-changer for Israel’s relations with the EU. Europe is currently dependent on Russian natural gas. A reliable and price-competitive natural gas alternative in the Mediterranean could diminish Moscow’s ability to use energy supplies as a political weapon against Europe.
By Frank Musmar
The diplomatic campaign Mahmoud Abbas has been waging for a decade and a half is no less dangerous to Israel than the “armed struggle” led by Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. With the growing influence of Iran and the advent of a new array of threats on Israel’s borders to the north and south, renewing negotiations with Abbas on the basis of the Barak-Olmert framework would entail an existential threat to Israel.