At first glance, this past week seems like a week that Iran’s mullahs would very much like to forget. Early Wednesday morning, IDF naval commandos boarded the merchant ship Francop and diverted it to the naval base at Ashdod. There the IDF displayed its cargo of 3,000 rockets and various and other sundry ordnance useful only to terror forces.
The Francop originated in Iran and was intercepted en route to Iran’s Hizbullah proxy force in Lebanon via Iran’s Arab toady Syria.
As Israel’s political leadership noted, this shipment constitutes hard proof that Iran is actively sponsoring terrorist armies in Lebanon, and doing so in full breach of binding UN Security Council resolutions. The commando raid also exposed the depth of Syria’s collusion with Iran in arming Hizbullah. After Israel’s seizure of the Francop, voices claiming that Syria is but a bit player in the terror game can be laughed off the international stage.
Israel’s interception of the Francop came a week after Yemeni forces seized an Iranian ship transporting armor-piercing weapons to Houthi Shi’ite rebels in northern Yemen. As Saudi Arabia’s Al-Watan reported over the weekend, Iranian Revolutionary Guards are training Houthi rebels in Eritrea and sponsoring their insurgency against the Yemini regime.
Earlier in October, the Hansa India, which sailed from Iran to Germany, fell under suspicion as it made its way to Syria. It was diverted from Egypt to Malta, where its cargo of bullets and industrial materials intended for weapons production was removed.
On Wednesday morning, just as Israel was announcing the capture of the Francop, scores of thousands of Iranians in cities throughout the country took advantage of the regime’s planned demonstrations celebrating the 30th anniversary of the seizure of the US Embassy in Teheran to protest against the regime. These regime opponents willingly placed themselves in front of the batons, tear gas cannons and guns of Iranian regime goons to protest June’s stolen presidential election and to call for the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime of tyranny and its replacement with a democracy.
The protesters turned regime supporters’ calls for “Death to America,” and “Death to Israel” into big, deadly jokes by calling out, “Death to the Dictator” (that is, supreme ruler Ali Khamenei) and “Death to Russia.”
Far from embracing the regime’s 30-year war against the US and the nation-state based international system, representatives of the “Green Revolution” asked the US to forgive Iran for taking 52 US Embassy personnel hostage in 1979.
Back in Israel, for the past two weeks some 1,400 US military personnel have been deployed throughout the country for the biennial Juniper Cobra missile defense exercise with the IDF. Although Juniper Cobra is a routine maneuver, this year’s exercise was unprecedented in size and scope. Observers claim that there have never been so many American generals in Israel at one time.
No previous Israeli-American joint exercise has been conducted with such a high profile. And Israeli leaders did not hesitate to name the enemy in this year’s exercise. This year’s Juniper Cobra exercise, they said, was part of the two nations’ preparations for a joint response to a potential Iranian strike against Israel. The obvious message Israel and the US hoped to transmit to Teheran was that the strategic alliance between the two countries remains strong.
ALL IN all then, on the surface, this past week seemed like a horrible week for the mullahs. But appearances can be deceiving. Unfortunately and counterintuitively, the past week has been one of the best weeks the mullahs have had for a long, long time. Certainly, it was the best week the Iranian regime has had since it falsified the results of the June 12 presidential elections.
In January 2002, the IDF commandeered the Iranian Karine A weapons ship en route to Gaza. The Karine A was carrying a 10th of the weapons that the Francop was carrying. But the impact the Israeli commando mission then had on Israel’s political position was more than 10 times greater than the political impact of this week’s successful operation.
The exposure then of Iran’s support for Palestinian Authority-backed terror forces caused the Bush administration to abandon its previous acceptance of Yasser Arafat as a legitimate political leader. That in turn paved the way for Israel’s launch of Operation Defensive Shield three months later. In that operation Israel wrested military control over Judea and Samaria away from Palestinian militias and terror cells.
Wednesday’s raid has had no discernible impact on American policy. The US did not denounce either Syria or Iran for breaching the UN Security Council resolution barring Iranian arms shipments as well as the Security Council resolution prohibiting nations from arming Hizbullah. The US did not state that in response to what Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called a “smoking gun,” it will reconsider its decision to send an ambassador to Damascus or its commitment to appeasing Iran through its nuclear talks in Geneva. The only thing a State Department official could bring himself to say was that the US is concerned about “Hizbullah’s efforts to rearm in direct violation of various UN Security Council resolutions,” and remark that the groups remains, “a significant threat to peace and security in Lebanon and the region.”
Despite the government’s energetic efforts to use the Francop interception as a means to convince the nations of the world to unite against Iranian-backed terror, no one seems willing to acknowledge the clear strategic implications of Iran’s exports of terror weaponry. Today no one is any more willing to treat Iran as the enemy of the international system it has been for 30 years than they were before Israel exposed the Francop cargo of terror for all the world to see.
And the US-led international community’s refusal to take any action against Iran in response to this latest evidence of its rogue behavior is a great victory for the mullahs. Thirty years after their first criminal challenge to the US and the free world as a whole, no one seems to care when their criminality is so graphically exposed.
WITH THE international community making clear its unwillingness to confront Iran for its support of global terrorism, the greatest single threat to the Iranian regime today is the Iranian people. Since the likes of Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole the June 12 presidential elections, the Iranian people have daily risked death in their desperate and courageous bid to overthrow the regime.
The Iranian opposition movement announced weeks ago that its members would be out in force at the anniversary rallies on Wednesday. And on Wednesday, the protesters begged the world for support. They called out to US President Barack Obama, “You’re either with us or with them.”
But Obama – in full appeasement mode – issued a statement ahead of Wednesday’s “Death to America” rallies announcing, “We do not interfere in Iran’s internal affairs.” That is, when asked to choose between Iran’s freedom riders or their oppressors, he chose the oppressors. The US is with the mullahs against the Iranian people.
No doubt Obama’s statement brought contemptuous smirks to faces of the illegitimate leaders in Teheran.
As for the Juniper Cobra exercise, far from being a cause for concern for Teheran, it is a cause for celebration. As Iran’s centrifuges churn on, by loudly voicing its determination to defend Israel if Israel is attacked by Iran, the US signaled that it is willing to take its chances with a nuclear-armed Iran. More than anything, Juniper Cobra demonstrated that the Obama administration has abandoned its previously stated pledge that it will not accept a nuclear-armed Iran. Rather than working with Israel to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, the US is using Juniper Cobra to noisily demonstrate that it merely hopes to deter Iran from using nucl
ear weapons once it acquires them.
While this was perhaps the mullahs’ greatest reason for rejoicing this week, three additional developments no doubt also warmed the cockles of their hearts. First, Obama’s pledge not to support the anti-regime protesters was part of a larger message in which the president of the United States effectively groveled at the mullahs’ feet and begged them to allow the US to enrich uranium for them.
Obama said, “I have made it clear that the United States of America wants to move beyond this past, and seeks a relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran based upon mutual interests and mutual respect… We have recognized Iran’s international right to peaceful nuclear power. We have demonstrated our willingness to take confidence-building steps along with others in the international community. We have accepted a proposal by the International Atomic Energy Agency to meet Iran’s request for assistance in meeting the medical needs of its people. We have made clear that if Iran lives up to the obligations that every nation has, it will have a path to a more prosperous and productive relationship with the international community.”
And when Khamenei responded to Obama’s obsequious bowing and scraping by saying that negotiating with the US was a “naïve and perverted” enterprise, the Obama administration had nothing to say.
The White House won’t even acknowledge that the Iranians have already rejected the IAEA-brokered deal to have the US, France and Russia enrich uranium for them. Indeed, rather than accept that the Iranians are playing them for fools, administration officials were furious at Israel for Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s announcement early last week that their proposed deal with Iran would have little impact on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
According to Channel 10, the White House demanded that Netanyahu applaud their efforts. They threatened Israel with unspecified sanctions if he failed to announce his support for their pathetic attempts at appeasement. And so he did. And about five minutes after Netanyahu applauded the Americans for their brilliant offer to enrich uranium for Iran, the Iranians rejected their offer as insufficient.
Finally, Obama has threatened that if Iran rejects his nuclear appeasement offer the US will move swiftly to enact painful sanctions against it. But with the UN the only international institution the administration believes can legitimately initiate sanctions, and with the UN currently busy discussing the Goldstone Report accusing Israel of committing war crimes in its campaign against Iran’s Hamas proxy in Gaza, no one can expect any movement on yet another sanctions resolution against Iran any time soon. (And as to Gaza, neither the US nor anyone else had any significant reaction to Israel’s revelation Tuesday that Hamas successfully tested an Iranian missile capable of reaching Tel Aviv.)
Today we are in a waiting period. At the end of this period, either Iran will emerge as a nuclear power or Iran will see itself disarmed of nuclear power, its regime humbled and its terror proxies deterred.
Through their actions again this week, the US and the international community as a whole have demonstrated their preferred outcome. It must be fervently hoped that like the brave Iranian people themselves, Israel will not bend to their cowardly will.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.