Israel - Page 2

These Are Donald Trump’s Foreign Policy Moves


After President Donald Trump walked away from Iran nuclear deal, it’s clear that he has an idea of what kind of foreign policy he wants to lead. So far he showed a desire to break contracts, not to sign them. Staying true to his campaign promises his first day in the office was marked by a withdrawal from 12-member trade agreement signed by Barack Obama.

President Trump claims that TPP which hasn’t even taken effect yet is a bad deal which unfairly treats the United States and leaves them exposed to competition. All other nations have already signed the agreement and seemed ready to work based on what was arranged.

But, eleven months after his first day in the White House, Donald Trump had the time to think this deal over and had a change of heart. Eleven nations who signed the agreement, besides the US, decided to move on without America, but now, President Trump is ready to join them once again if they are prepared to accept a couple of changes imposed by the US.


The North American Trade Agreement which was signed 24-years ago was called a ‘disaster’ and ‘worst trade deal maybe ever’ by the current president. Trump tried to renegotiate the terms during the last year but stayed away from withdrawal.

All of the three parties involved (Canada, Mexico, US) are trying to change the deal, but they found more that one stumbling rock, and are no closer to having an improved arrangement. The US wants to have more share on Mexican and Canadian markets especially on the automobile industry, and both countries are opposing to this.

Because of this, the future of this pact remains uncertain. During the years that this deal was in power, trade between countries flourished, but some industries have seen a decline.

Another agreement that saw the United States withdrawing from under the leadership of Donald Trump is the Paris deal which is committed to fighting global warming. This agreement was signed by Barack Obama before it was scrapped by Trump in 2017. After pulling out of Paris deal, Trump stated that the US would be opened to renegotiation, but no actions have been taken towards it. Even without the US, there are more than 190 nations who have signed and are fine with the terms.


One of the more controversial decisions made by Trump during his tenure in the White House was when he decided to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This move was condemned by the international community because Palestinians are looking to make east Jerusalem the capital of their future state. Washington officials announced that they would move their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, which will coincide with 70th anniversary of the creation of Israeli country.

One of the focal points of his foreign policy was exchanging insults with North Korean president Kim Jong Un before taking a complete U-turn and declaring that two of them will meet at an international summit to discuss denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. The meeting will happen even after Kim endangered Japan and South Korea with constant ballistic missiles tests. But, as a sign of good will, NK released three US citizens that were imprisoned there. Kim already met with the president of SK Moon in DMZ. The meeting with Trump will occur in coming weeks.


Regarding the Middle East, Trump stated that US troops should ‘get out’ of Syria, but US Army officials noted that the army will remain and that the fight against Islamic State will continue. He also ordered a cruise missiles fire on the Syrian military targets after they were accused of using chemical weapons. The last of this attacks were in April, with the aid of US allies France and Germany.

POTUS was and still is an enemy of the Iran deal which he described as insane. Trump even stepped out of agreement although European allies refused to do so. He is adamant in putting Iran under sanctions and punish them economically until they accept to change few things in the agreement. Donald Trump wants that ban on Iran’s use of enriched uranium becomes permanent. The current terms are limiting them till 2025.


M1 Abrams vs. Merkava IV – A Comparison


Ever since the first British tanks rolled on the field of Flanders in 1916, nations across the globe have competed who will create a better-armored vehicle. Today, we take a look at two of the best main battle tanks found on the modern battlefield, American M1 Abrams, and Israeli Merkava IV.

Merkava tank was born after the Yom Kippur War, which saw massive tank losses on both sides. Israel lost more than 1,000 tanks and some 500 other armored vehicles, while the Arab nations fared even worse, with some 2,500 tanks destroyed. Israel high command has felt that such losses were unsustainable, despite the victory and had sought a new tank, one with heavier armor and better crew protection, able to go toe to toe with Russian tanks fielded by their opponent.

The man in charge of this project was General Israel Tal, a legend among Israeli tankmen. His design was named Merkava (Chariot) and featured some unique design solutions, like the front-mounted engine and an infantry compartment in the rear. The engine in the front is highly unusual for armored vehicles, but it is logical from the Israeli point of view. They needed a tank for mainly defensive assignment, hence the front-mounted engine only added to the crew protection. That is why Merkava Mk.1 is one of the slowest tanks in its generation, since the speed wasn’t deemed vital, but rather the ability to traverse the rocky terrain of the Golan Heights, which is why Merkava tank tracks and suspension were taken from the British Centurion tank, which served Israelis well during the Yom Kippur War.

With the engine in front, the rear of the tank was reserved for ammunition, packed in fireproof racks. Merkava could easily be transformed into armored personnel carriers by removing these racks, which cleared the space for 10 infantrymen. It also allowed IDF to evacuate its wounded under heavy enemy fire.

Merkava also features some unique weapon options. Mk I and Mk II had a 105 mm main gun, while later Mk III and IV carry more potent 120mm smoothbore cannon. All versions have four machine guns, two 7.62 mounted on the roof of the turret for the commander and loader, and a third one mounted co-axially with the main gun. Just above the mantle is M2 Browning 12.7 mm remote-controlled gun, which proved very valuable in asymmetric warfare Israel has been engaged in the last few decades. Another interesting weapon option is a 60 mm mortar, which allows the crew to assault targets which are hidden from view. This option proved very useful in many urban engagements.

American tank had a somewhat different history. Designed to replace aging M60 tanks, which was deemed unfit to counter new Russian designs, Abrams was one of the first third-generation MBTs in the world. It featured a revolutionary Chobham armor, which made it almost impervious to the T-72 and T-62 tanks, a fact Iraqi armored forces discovered the hard way during Gulf War. M1 Abrams is also heavier than Merkava tank, weighing 68 tonnes. The tanks excelled in desert warfare, where its combination of mobility, firepower, and protection proved lethal and unstoppable, but urban clashes of the Second Gulf War shown that this is not an ideal weapon. That is why an improvement suit called TUSK (Tank Urban Survival Kit).

Abrams also features a 120 mm main gun, designed by Rheinmetall and based on the gun used in Leopard tanks. It carries two or three machine guns, depending on the variant.

Both of these combat machines feature active measures in their latest installments. Merkava Mk IV carries Trophy active protection system, which is deemed as one of the best solutions currently on the market and the only one able to defeat even the most modern anti-tank missiles like Kornet, Konkurs, and RPG-29 Vampire. In fact, the system proved so good that the Americans are planning on purchasing it for at least one brigade of Abrams.

Although there aren’t really a chance of these two tanks going against each other, it is important to note that both of them are designed to fulfill their country’s respective needs and may not be directly comparable. These machines manage to fill their intended role successfully and that is the only thing one could ask from a modern weapon system.


Israel and Iran May Confront in Syria, Warns Mattis


US Defense Secretary James Mattis has said that there is a possibility of military confrontation between Iranian and Israeli military forces on Syrian soil. The Israeli officials have arrived in Washington to discuss the matter, and Mattis was quick to warn the Congress of another military conflict in the Middle East. When he was asked whether the two sides could engage in a fight, he responded: “I can see how it might start, but I am not sure when or where. I think that it’s very likely in Syria because Iran continues to do its proxy work there through Hezbollah.”

Mattis said that Iran was strengthening its position in Syria and he also accused the country of “bringing advanced weapons for Hezbollah through Syria. [Israel] will not wait to see those missiles in the air and we hope Iran would pull back.”

The Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman who spoke with Mattis and US national security adviser John Bolton warned that Iran might strike. He told Arabic news website Elaph: “Any site in which we see an Iranian attempt to achieve a military foothold in Syria will be struck. We won’t let that happen, regardless of the price.” In February, Israeli forces attacked Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria when one of their F16 jets was taken down at the Syrian border.

According to Charles Lister from the Middle East Institute, the Iranian presence in Syrian has become a “hugely explosive issue.” Mr. Lister told The National “The threat is unacceptable, and Israel can’t continue to watch it grow.” He added: “What it means is they [Israelis] need to do something, so we started to see more aggressive, more risky strikes.” With Russia’s inability to keep Iran calm, the possible confrontation might spread on Lebanon as well, and that is why it has to be nipped in the bud.

According to Mattis, Trump had not made the decision to get out of the Iran deal, and the White House is a place where national security meetings are held. At the meetings, the president and his aides are considering the options once the May 12 deadline passes. Of the Iran deal, Mattis said: “I have read it now three times, all 156 pages, and I will say it is written almost with an assumption that Iran will try to cheat. So the verification, what is in there, is actually pretty robust as far as our intrusive ability to get in.”

Another big thing happened on Thursday as the former CIA director Mike Pompeo has been confirmed as the new Secretary of State. He will replace incapable Rex Tillerson and find the department in the sorry state. However, Pompeo will fly to Brussels right away where he will discuss the NATO defenses, and from there he will go to the Middle East. There are several vacant spots on the department which need to be filled immediately, and Mr. Pompeo has promised to do it. According to Bloomberg, Paula Dobriansky is going to be the nominee for Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs, and she would replace Tom Shannon. She has already been on the various positions in both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush’s administrations.


Trump’s Policy Wreaks Havoc in the Middle East?


Many people are concerned that President Donald Trump is assembling a “war cabinet” with the addition of the new hawkish politicians to the team. With the airstrikes on Syria, Trump showed the poor Foreign Policy strategy. This kind of strategy can be defined as passive-aggressive. The United States is not doing anything concrete to solve the problems in Syria, yet the actions are aggressive enough to wreak havoc in the region.

The things which Trump and his administration are doing are not logical at all. Their goal is to rip up the Iran nuclear deal, defeat the Islamic State in Syria and prevent the Syrian government from using the chemical weapons again. However, as a country, America didn’t do anything to challenge Iran in the region, and once the Islamic State is dealt with, Trump intends to withdraw?! Furthermore, the airstrikes are launched onto Syria, but there is no clear strategy behind it. Most of the rockets were destroyed while in the sky, but as the country burns, Trump said that the mission was accomplished.

The examples of the contradictory politics are numerous. The US greeted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman when he visited Washington, but they wrote him a blank check afterward for continued regional conflict. Just as we thought that the United States had gained an edge, the president finds a way to mess things up. Let’s not continue with the examples.

The upcoming months will be crucial for the US. In May, Trump wants to open a US Embassy in Jerusalem, which is the time when Iraqis hold the national elections. Furthermore, POTUS plans to rip up the Iran nuclear deal, but let’s not forget that this was all before the supposed chemical attack in Syria when Trump was forced to react. With so much going on in the Middle East, Trump announced that he would withdraw the US army from the region. Could these be the biggest errors made by any administration?


With ripping up the Iran nuclear deal, the tensions in the region would grow. Not only that. This deal blocks Iran from making the nuclear weapon in the upcoming years, and this is something the US must not do. While the European Union may stay in the deal together with Russia and China, the Iranians may abandon it. Trump has surrounded himself with hawkish politicians, and the changes in his cabinet are grave. The team consisting of Trump, John Bolton who is the new national security advisor and Mike Pompeo, the new CIA director who replaced Rex Tillerson after he was dismissed doesn’t look promising. Let’s not forget about newly-appointed warmongering National Secretary of State John J. Sullivan. With such a team, USA is bound to fail in diplomacy, and they can only rely on Special Forces, Air Force and the military in general. And that is not a good approach.

Anti-Islamic State

Trump has announced that he would remove the forces from eastern Syria in the future, but at the moment they are staying put. Withdrawing is not an option because this could spur further conflict in the region and let’s not forget that Turkey and Iran are also involved and not just the Syrian government, Russia, and the US. Leaving Syria would mark the beginning of bloodshed. The similar situation is in Iraq. Will the new president rely on the United States, or will he fall under the Iranian influence? The US could help the next president tackle the issues in the region and with the neighbors, but America isn’t showing too much interest. After investing so much money to combat and suppress the Islamic State, is the USA ready to withdraw from the Middle East?

Israel vs. Palestine

The conflict between Israeli and Palestinians lasts for decades. The Trump administration promised a peace plan for the two sides, but nothing has happened so far. President’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem without the consent and any response from Israel may be a huge mistake.

The upcoming month or two would be crucial for the America and its interests in the Middle East. It appears that Trump is adding insult to injury with his decisions and the moves made by his administration while he should be putting out fires. Due to this, the position of America in the region might change significantly by the end of the year.


Palestine Popular Resistance Scares Israel


Although unarmed Gaza protesters posed no threat to the Israeli soldiers, reports say that 15 has been killed and more than 2,000 wounded. Hundreds of Israeli soldiers were deployed to the buffer zone between the besieged Gaza and the border of Israel. The reasons for their deployment are massive protests and rallies organized by the Palestinian families.

On March 31, the Israeli army tweeted: “Yesterday we saw 30,000 people. We arrived prepared and with precise reinforcements. Nothing was carried out uncontrolled; everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed.”

The tweet was soon deleted and posting such a thing on social media is cruel even for the Israeli soldiers. The Israeli had hoped that they would chase away the Palestinians by killing some of them and wounding a bunch, which would eventually lead the protest to quiet down, but that was not the case. The Palestinians showed that they could be powerful when they are united and that their arch enemies have every reason to be afraid. This gathering disrupted Israel’s political and military tactics, and Tel Aviv has assumed a defensive position.

But what led tens of thousands of Palestinians to camp at the border with Israel? Multiple reasons are behind this act. First of all, Gaza is being suffocated, and Israel’s ten-year blockade prevented the Palestinian factions from uniting. The people are led to the brink of starvation and political despair and inferiority. The act of mass mobilization that took place last week was not about commemorating Land Day, which united Palestinians since the protests of 1976. It was about giving the voice back to the people and reclaiming the agenda.

At this point, we need to take a look at what preceded the First Intifada or uprising in 1987 to get the idea of the mobilization. Before the uprising, the Arab governments in the region considered the Palestinian cause to be “someone else’s problem.” The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was exiled to Lebanon, Tunisia, Algeria, Yemen and the surrounding countries together with thousands of fighters. This happened by the end of 1982, and with major forces exiled, the leadership of Palestine became irrelevant to the affairs at the time. A few years later, people stepped out of their homes, and the non-violent mobilization lasted for a year, which culminated in the signing of the Oslo Accord in 1993. Today, the leadership is irrelevant as it was back then, but it is also divided with Fatah holding the West Bank and Hamas Gaza.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is losing credibility among its own people because of numerous corruption accusations. This caused PA leader Mahmoud Abbas to resign, and last year, Donald Trump further helped in diminishing PA, as he proclaimed Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This was done against the international law and without the UN consensus. Hamas is also weakened by the political isolation.

However, the hope still exists. Last October, the two sides stepped closer to the reconciliation, and they signed the deal in Cairo, Egypt. Unfortunately, just like in the past, there is a great chance that this deal will break. First, there was an assassination attempt on the PA Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah when he was on the Israeli border crossing.

And now this happened last week. The Palestinians gathered in the buffer zone peacefully, waving their flags, but the Israeli soldiers shot 15 unarmed protesters and wounded 773 people on the first day only. But the event didn’t go unnoticed. Respected figures around the world such as Pope Francis and Human Rights Watch condemned the killings, and this may give Palestinians the opportunity to do something big. But this is no consolation to the families of the dead.

To end on a positive note, Palestinians found a way to express outside the factional interests and this time the world cannot and must not turn a blind eye.