By D. Bender
Israel’s ministerial intelligence oversight chief recently charged that a string of American attempts to train and arm “moderate” militias and armies in neighboring states and entities have collapsed into the Mideast dust.
“…not just the Iraqi Army they had built is collapsing. Everywhere the Americans had tried that thing – they failed,” Yuval Steinitz, Minister of Intelligence, Strategic Affairs and International Relations recently told U.S. colleagues, according to an interview with Israel Defense in June, first published on Sunday.
Steinitz, speaking just prior to the implementation of Operation Protective Edge, and the metastasis of ISIS/ISIL – the so-called Islamic State – throughout much of Syria and Iraq, contended that “in the Gaza Strip, too, the Palestinian police forces were beaten by Hamas in 2007, and now the same thing is happening in Iraq.
“The substantial military forces the USA had established there are being defeated by Islamist forces, who use the exact same methods Hamas had used – including mass executions.
“It is equally clear that no future Palestinian policing force operating in the Judea and Samaria region (West Bank) may be relied upon, even if it were trained and equipped by the USA.
“If Israel does not control that area, the Islamist forces will be able to dominate the territory there, too,” said Steinitz, who, in previous years chaired the influential Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and held the Finance Ministry portfolio. In his current role he supervises the Mossad, the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and the Israel Atomic Energy Commission.
“The conventional threat has substantially diminished,” Steinitz assessed, but cautioned, that “the terrorism threat on the one hand and on the other hand the instability from the direction of Iran, namely – the unconventional threat, has significantly increased. This is a threat we have not completely accepted yet and have not fully prepared for yet.”
When asked if Israel had managed to influence talks between the P5+1 powers and Iran, Stenitz admitted that, while “We are not a world superpower … we succeeded in establishing for ourselves substantial influence and status regarding the negotiations with Iran. We are present yet absent there.
“This had begun even prior to the interim agreement when, in personal conversations with the French, we succeeded in convincing them to veto the initial draft and include two demands – stop the construction of the heavy water nuclear reactor in Arak, and neutralize all of the uranium enriched to more than 20% grade.
“The neutralization process has almost been completed,” he asserted. “With regard to these two aspects we had a direct influence on the interim agreement. Since then we have been engaged in a dialog, for which I am responsible, in cooperation with all of the organs engaged in this task – the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, the National Security Council and so forth, at the ministerial level and below, vis-à-vis the intelligence services of the five superpowers. Not a single week passes without meetings or intensive talks.”
Steinitz claimed that, “If it were not for Israel, they may have already signed a bad agreement with Iran,” and touted that “Two and a half months ago I managed, in cooperation with the prime minister, to introduce a new argument into the international discourse, according to which Iran as a threshold state, in terms of the danger of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, will constitute an even greater risk.”
He warned that, “Iran as a threshold state enjoying the legitimacy that stems from an agreement will encourage Egypt, Algeria, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to come forward and demand the same for themselves – centrifuges under supervision.
“They will be able to say, if the world can live with Iran in that state, we want to be like that, too, and then you would have a situation where a bad agreement, in which Iran remains a threshold state, will yield five or six additional threshold states throughout the Arab-Muslim world, where the stability of those regimes cannot be relied upon.”
While “We do have some influence,” Steinitz said, praising Israel’s intelligence-gathering prowess, he allowed that, “I am not at all confident that we will reach the required achievement, namely – that Iran remains years away from a nuclear weapon.”