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  • Author: Amos Yadlin
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: After a year in which Iran opted for "strategic patience," in the hope that European nations would compensate for the United States sanctions, it now seeks to present a price tag for the US measures against it, and has thus embarked on a response comprising action in three realms: nuclear, military, and oil exports from the Gulf. In the current circumstances, Iran and the United States are demanding conditions that would make a resumption of negotiations difficult, although both sides apparently understand that dialogue may ultimately be the less dangerous option for them. The latest developments embody the potential for escalation and miscalculation that is liable to affect Israel's security, and therefore the security cabinet should convene to craft an appropriate policy for the near, medium, and long terms.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Oil, Military Strategy, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, North America
  • Author: Itai Brun, Tehilla Shwartz Altschuler
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: On April 18, 2019, the US Department of Justice released a redacted version of the full report (448 pages) submitted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller about Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential elections. The report consists of two parts: the first presents the outcome of the investigation into Russia’s involvement in the election and draws conclusions regarding the presence or absence of a conspiracy or illegal coordination between the Russians and the Trump campaign; the second part deals with President Trump’s possible obstruction of justice regarding the FBI investigation into the Russian intervention and the investigation by the Special Counsel himself. This essay deals with the first part, i.e., the results of the investigation into the connection between the Russians and Trump for the purpose of influencing the election results. The report reflects accurately the US criminal law that deals with conspiracy and illegal coordination regarding elections. At the same time, it exposes a gap in the nation’s conceptual, organizational, legal, and technological preparedness to confront the possibilities that the digital space provides to undermine – internally and externally – the democratic process. Israel suffers from the same gap, and it is therefore imperative that the state confront it before the next Knesset election.
  • Topic: Crime, Elections, Election Interference , Investigations
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Middle East, Israel, North America
  • Author: Udi Dekel, Carmit Valensi
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The rescue of Bashar al-Assad’s regime by the pro-Assad coalition, comprising Russia, Iran, and Iranian proxies, led to the victory of the regime over the rebels; the coalition’s achievements stem primarily from the effective cooperation between Iran and Russia since 2015 in fighting the rebels. Now, with the battles over, despite shared interests in consolidating the Assad regime, inherent tensions between Russia and Iran regarding influence in Syria have emerged in greater relief. Yet despite the disagreements, this it is not a zero-sum game between Russia and Iran. Both continue to cooperate on a range of issues in the Syrian arena and beyond. Iran for its part continues to see its consolidation in Syria as a strategic objective, and despite difficulties that have emerged, it seems that Tehran remains determined to continue, even if to a lesser extent than originally planned. After the success of Israel’s military actions to halt Iran’s military consolidation in Syria, Jerusalem should maximize the political potential and the shared interest of Russia and the United States to stabilize the situation in Syria, and to reduce Iran’s influence and capabilities in the country.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Military Strategy, Foreign Interference
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Iran, Syria
  • Author: Assaf Orion, Amos Yadlin
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: At the strategic level, the convergence in time and space of the events following the chemical weapons attack in Duma by the Syrian regime portend a dramatic development with substantial potential impact for Israel’s security environment. The attack on the T4 airbase, attributed to Israel, falls within the context of the last red line that Israel drew, whereby it cannot accept Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria. The attack in Duma reflects the Syrian regime’s considerable self-confidence at this time. As for Trump, the attack provides him with another opportunity to demonstrate his insistence on the red lines that he drew and take a determined stance opposite Putin. Thus, Israel’s enforcement of its red line and the United States’ enforcement of its red line have met, while Russia finds itself exerting efforts to deter both countries from taking further action that could undermine its achievements in Syria and its positioning as the dominant world power in the theater. However, the strategic convergence does not stop at Syria’s borders, and is unfolding against the backdrop of the crisis emerging around the Trump administration’s demands to improve the JCPOA, or run the risk of the re-imposition of sanctions and the US exiting the agreement. Indeed, the context is even wider, with preparations for Trump’s meeting with North Korean President Kim on the nuclear issue in the far background. Therefore, the clash between Israel and Iran in Syria on the eve of deliberations on the nuclear deal could potentially lead to a change from separate approaches to distinct issues to a broader and more comprehensive framework with interfaces and linkages between the issues.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Asia, North Korea, Syria, North America
  • Author: Udi Dekel, Carmit Valensi
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Besides the operational success, the attack in Syria earned the United States a clear political achievement, with the enforcement of American red lines by way of a coalition with Britain and France. However, this ad hoc coalition is focused solely on preventing the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and as Trump administration spokesmen clarified, there is no change in the US policy toward Syria. As such, the United States is threatening neither the Assad regime, nor the growing Iranian presence or Russian dominance in Syria. This attack was also not enough to address definitively the violations of the rules of war and the wide-scale attacks on civilians by Assad forces, including the use of conventional weapons, such as massive bombings from the air and barrel bomb attacks from helicopters. The United States and its partners did not present a plan to guarantee that the targeted attacks against civilians – and not just chemical attacks – on the part of Assad and the coalition that supports him will not continue. However, after seven years of war, in which more than a half a million people have been killed and millions have been displaced or have become refugees, the Syrian civilian population deserves more committed international support. For its part, Israel remains alone in the campaign against the consolidation by Iran and its proxies in war-torn Syria.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Military Strategy, Hezbollah, Chemical Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Syria, North America
  • Author: Pnina Sharvit Baruch
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The combined attack by the United States, Britain, and France on Syrian targets following the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons has sparked extensive debate on the strike’s strategic aspects, and how, if at all, the offensive will affect the situation and the balance of power in Syria. The attack has also aroused a legal discussion, which once again highlights the limitations of the existing rules of international law when it comes to dealing with situations where the use of force is not based on the authorization of the Security Council or derived from the right to self defense. In this context, the forceful response, in and of itself, particularly being a combined attack by a number of key states, could have an impact on the development of international law with regard to the rules regarding possible legal justifications for the use of force between states.
  • Topic: United Nations, Military Strategy, UN Security Council, Chemical Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Europe, Middle East, France, Syria, North America
  • Author: Ephraim Asculai, Emily Landau, Daniel Shapiro, Moshe Ya'alon
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Against the backdrop of the visit to Washington by President Macron and the scheduled visit by Chancellor Merkel in an effort to persuade US President Trump not to leave the JCPOA, this article zeros in on the key issues that need to be addressed by the allies. Guided by what is not only necessary but feasible at this late stage, the topics addressed include missiles, inspections, lack of transparency, sanctions, and the sunset provisions. Everything turns on political will – if it exists, agreeing to the proposed steps should not entail a lengthy process, and implementation can realistically begin in relatively short order. Significant results will mean the international community emerges with reinforced solidarity and a strengthened JCPOA. If negotiations progress seriously on this basis, it would make sense for the Trump administration to allow additional time beyond May 12 to complete them.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, North America
  • Author: Shimon Arad
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: In January 2018, the United States and Egypt signed a bilateral communications security agreement known as the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), which protects and regulates the use of sensitive American avionics and communications systems. This development now allows, for the first time, the acquisition by Egypt of US-made high precision GPS-based air-to-ground weapon systems and components, as well as advanced air-to-air missiles. Over the years, Israel’s concerns over the sale of large quantities of US weapon systems to Egypt were moderated by the quality cap dictated by the absence of a CISMOA agreement. Israel thus needs to raise this issue with Washington, within the context of the Qualitative Military Edge (QME) discussions. Given the unreliability of enduring stability in the Middle East, as exemplified by the events in Egypt since 2011, Israel should not disregard possible future scenarios in which its QME versus Egypt may matter. Based on the current convergence of security interests between Israel and Egypt, raising this issue with the US, though likely to upset Cairo, is not expected to undermine the practical manifestations of this relationship.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Military Strategy, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, North America, Egypt
  • Author: Assaf Orion, Amos Yadlin
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Despite the two blows Iran sustained last week, Israel cannot afford to be complacent or overly satisfied. It will need to follow meticulously the updated policies adopted by each of the theater’s involved actors. Thus far, Israel has held separate policies regarding Iran’s nuclear program and the Iranian proxy war and malevolent influence. Now, it must develop an integrative long term policy and strive for coordinated efforts and meaningful cooperation with the United States, European countries, and the countries of the region. Operational and strategic coordination with Russia remains essential. Contending with the Iranian nuclear challenge will require the establishment of a joint “strategic early warning enterprise,” with the United States and other allies, aimed at preventing critical surprises.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, International Cooperation, Military Strategy, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Syria, North America
  • Author: Shmuel Even
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Israel’s exposure of the Iranian nuclear archive was an impressive and professional operation. It was meant to help prepare public opinion for President Trump’s statement and to make it more difficult for the other leaders who are party to the agreement and who are in no hurry to enter into a confrontation with Iran. In light of the importance of the great threat that Iran poses to Israel, the exposure operation was a vital step in a long struggle. The alternative of not exposing the material would have meant giving up the chance of using the information to create cognitive value and leaving it in the archives of the intelligence community.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, North America
  • Author: Shimon Stein
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: President Trump’s announcement that the United States would withdraw from the JCPOA is the most recent development in a series of unilateral decisions by the administration that have thrown relations between the US and its European allies into a crisis. In the short term, Germany, France, and Britain, like the European Union as a whole, will need to confront their relations with Iran vis-à-vis the nuclear deal against the background of the American withdrawal, and in the long term, their future relations with the United States. Indeed, the crisis stemming from the agreement with Iran is a symptom of the fundamental disagreement that has characterized US-Europe relations since President Trump entered the White House, which reflects only limited commitment by the US to multilateral frameworks. Still, Europe’s dependence on the United States in the realm of security and economics is significant, and it has no potential alternative in the foreseeable future. As for Israel, even if many members of the European Union understand Israel’s need to contend with the threats posed by Iran, the EU is not party to the opposition of Prime Minister Netanyahu to the nuclear deal. It is therefore still unclear how Europe will respond to Israel’s position, which encouraged a situation whereby the deal that the Europeans regarded as an achievement of recent European foreign policy, and as a tool for achieving stability in the Middle East, will be erased.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Military Affairs, European Union, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East, North America, Israel