Follow us on social

Shutterstock_1498872989-scaled

The Right-Wing Pro-Israel, Evangelical Agenda has Taken Over Trump's Middle East Policy

Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah recently warned that retaliation for the Soleimani assassination would be aimed at U.S. military assets, suggesting that suicide bombers will be deployed.

Analysis | Middle East

Until recently, President Donald Trump’s pro-Israel policy was centered on taking steps related to fulfilling campaign promises and strengthening his standing domestically with his evangelical base.

Chief among these steps was his decision to pull out of the nuclear accord with Iran, and the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (and at the same time announcing moving the American embassy to Jerusalem). Trump also signed a presidential proclamation recognizing “Israeli sovereignty” over the Golan Heights.

All of this has changed, however, with the assassination of the commander of the Quds Force in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) General Qassem Soleimani and the deputy head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), Abu Mehdi Al-Muhandis.

By deciding to carry out this assassination operation, Trump has brought his pro-Israel policy to an entirely new, and dangerous level.

Targeting the IRGC and PMF: An Israeli policy

It is worth remembering that Israel set the precedent for carrying out lethal operations in Iraq by targeting elements of the IRGC and the PMF.

Israel began these operations last year, with the first taking place on July 19 near the Iraqi town of Amerli. Iranian media later reported that senior IRGC commander Abu Alfazl Sarabian had died in the attack.

Another Israeli attack on August 25 led to the death of a senior PMF commander in the Iraqi town of Al-Qaim near the border with Syria, while 21 PMF members were killed in an Israeli operation near the city of Hit in Iraq’s Anbar province on September 20.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even admitted that Israel was behind these attacks.

“We are working against Iranian consolidation in Iraq as well [as in Syria]” remarked Netanyahu on August 22.

Trump administration officials adopt the Israel line of demonizing Iran

The Israeli fingerprints on U.S. policy could also be seen in the apparent stances taken by U.S. officials following the assassination of Soleimani and Al-Muhandis.

According to the New York Times, Trump administration officials have compared the assassination of Soleimani to the killing of former ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. Such a comparison is no doubt to Israel’s liking.

Not only has Israel long sought to equate the IRGC and its allies, including the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Iraqi PMF, with terrorist groups like al-Qaida and ISIS, it has even described the latter groups as being the lesser of the two evils.

According to sources in Washington, one of the most common complaints made by visiting Israeli officials over the past years was that the U.S. was focusing too much on fighting Sunni Jihadist groups (al-Qaida, ISIS, etc.) and not enough on fighting Iran and its network of allies.

Israel’s former ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren referred to this dynamic in an interview with the Jerusalem Post back in September 2013, where he summed up the Israeli policy regarding Syria. “The initial message about the Syrian issue was that we always wanted (President) Bashar Assad to go” he stated, further adding; “we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t back by Iran (al-Qaida affiliates) to the bad guys who were backed by Iran”.

For his part, former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon referred to an "axis of evil' comprising Iran, Syria, and Lebanon.

Yaalon made those remarks during a meeting with former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey in August 2013, underscoring that this “axis of evil” must not emerge victorious in Syria.

Israel may have found in the Trump administration the perfect ally when it comes to the demonization of Iran and the groups it supports.

Hard-core evangelicals like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence have a strong ideological affinity for Israel and its anti-Iranian agenda.

During a Senate hearing last April, Pompeo repeated the long-debunked claim that Iran and al-Qaida have cooperated for years. “There is no doubt there is a connection between the Islamic Republic of Iran and al-Qaida. Period, full stop,” Pompeo asserted.

Pence, meanwhile, has even gone so far as to claim that Soleimani was involved with 9/11. Following the assassination, Pence tweeted that Soleimani had “assisted in the clandestine travel of 10 of the 12 terrorists who carried out the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.”

American troops in danger as a result of the Israeli evangelical agenda

With the assassination of Soleimani and Al-Muhandes, Israel and its Christian evangelical allies in Washington appear to have succeeded more than any time before in steering Trump’s foreign policy. Their success, however, may have placed U.S. troops in the region in grave danger.

In a speech commemorating the death of Soleimani and Al-Muhandes, the leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah warned that retaliation would be aimed at U.S. military assets.

In remarks which brought back the memories of the 1983 attacks on the Marine Barracks in Beirut, Nasrallah suggested that the U.S. military presence in the region would become a target for suicide bombers.

“The suicide attackers who forced the Americans to leave our region in the past are still here today and in far greater numbers,” Nasrallah asserted.

Analysis | Middle East
Biden officials want Russian frozen assets to fund Ukraine war
Janet Yellen, United States Secretary of the Treasury. (Reuters)

Biden officials want Russian frozen assets to fund Ukraine war

QiOSK

On Tuesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen strongly endorsed efforts to tap frozen Russian central bank assets in order to continue to fund Ukraine.

“There is a strong international law, economic and moral case for moving forward,” with giving the assets, which were frozen by international sanctions following Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, to Kyiv, she said to reporters before a G7 meeting in San Paulo.

keep readingShow less
Will Michigan ‘uncommitted’ disaster wake Biden up on Gaza?

Activist Layla Elabed speaks during an uncommitted vote election night gathering as Democrats and Republicans hold their Michigan presidential primary election, in Dearborn, Michigan, U.S. February 27, 2024. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Will Michigan ‘uncommitted’ disaster wake Biden up on Gaza?

QiOSK

A protest vote in Michigan against President Joe Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza dramatically exceeded expectations Tuesday, highlighting the possibility that his stance on the conflict could cost him the presidency in November.

More than 100,000 Michiganders voted “uncommitted” in yesterday’s presidential primary, earning 13.3% of the tally with most votes counted and blasting past organizers’ goal of 10,000 protest votes. Biden won the primary handily with 81% of the total tally.

keep readingShow less
Finlandize Ukraine
File:Finland and Ukraine flags 20220613.jpg - Wikipedia

Finlandize Ukraine

Europe

The Russian conquest of Avdiivka is unlikely to alter the war’s basic realities. Although delays in the delivery of aid to Ukraine have raised Russian hopes, no meaningful changes on the battlefield are near. The Russians cannot drive to Kyiv; the Ukrainians cannot eject the invaders.

The first phase of the war in Ukraine is drawing to a close. Both sides are coming closer to acknowledging what has been clear to the rest of the world for quite some time: the current stalemate is unlikely to be broken in any significant way. This round of the war is going to end more-or-less along the current front lines.

keep readingShow less

Israel-Gaza Crisis

Latest