How Iranian Belligerence May Be Driving Middle East Recognition of Israel

In the following guest-post, NorseRadish examines the underlying motivations of Arab states in the Persian Gulf for signing the recent Trump-brokered peace deal with Israel.

How Iranian Belligerence may be Driving Middle East Recognition of Israel

by NorseRadish

Recent overtures by Muslim Middle East nations such as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are highlighting a not-so-subtle shift in regional pan-Arab unity. Just the overflight of Jordan and Saudi Arabia by El Al flight 971 from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi represents a significant departure from decades of previous non-recognition of the Jewish state. All of which beggars substantial questions regarding the drivers of these unprecedented events.

Less well-known to those unfamiliar with the intrigues and machinations of Middle East politics is Israel’s unstated policy of general retribution which is intended to discourage aggression by its unfriendly neighbors. Commonly referred to as the “Samson Option”, it is a promise of catastrophic regional retaliation should the Jewish state experience even a single attack that uses weapons of mass destruction.

This unsettling policy can be seen as a direct response to Ayatollah Khomeini’s threat of annihilation that was posed in his 1980 Qom speech. “We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah,” said the Iranian patriarch. “I say let this land [Iran] burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam remains triumphant in the rest of the world.” Such an implicit and suicidal threat against Israel was not taken lightly, as later events would make known.

Mordechai Vanunu, an Israeli former nuclear technician, revealed details of Israel’s nuclear weapons program to the British press in 1986. Previously they had neither been confirmed nor denied, and this unwanted airing of Israel’s offensive might represented a tectonic shift in the strategic balance of Middle Eastern military forces. Towards that end, Israel has taken its own steps towards securing its national interests.

One of the more prominent events in this regard was Israel’s 1981 bombing of the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq. Despite speculation about its efficacy, “Operation Opera” wasn’t the only preemptive strike of its kind. Also in this same category was the 2007 attack in Syria of the Al Kibar construction site. Known as “Operation Orchard”, the target was a facility that bore many hallmarks of a North Korean reactor design. Perhaps far more interesting was the ability of Israel’s air force to carry out this strike with almost total impunity. It appears that Israeli warplanes had safely returned to base before Syria became fully aware of the destruction in the Deir ez-Zor region.

Even now, the 2010 Stuxnet virus attack is still portrayed incorrectly. From a September 2020 article:

The Israelis then infected Iranian computers with the worm, which in turn ordered about 1,000 centrifuges to speed up so fast that they destroyed themselves.

This is a drastic oversimplification of events. The virus was so large that it has been described as a two-part construction consisting of a “warhead” and “delivery vehicle”. Its massive size rendered it unable to be transmitted via email and required it to be implanted onsite with a flash drive or other mass memory device.

After introduction, it distributed itself and took up multiple residences in printer storage buffers and other bulk memory caches. All the while, this virus remained dormant and gave no sign of its presence. Its sophistication was such that, when activated, facility monitoring screens were mimicked so that operators only saw “green” conditions, even as the gas centrifuges were being placed in malfunctioning states. This did not merely involve their being operated at overly high speeds. Instead, these delicately balanced mechanisms were periodically run above and below optimal rotational rates, thereby causing excessive wear on their mechanical bearings.

The intervals during which this happened were spaced by full weeks in order to minimize any chance of detection. As a consequence, such excursions outside of normal operating conditions were allowed only for relatively short periods and then returned to nominal speeds. The upshot being that damage was done gradually and in a cumulative manner to the point, when finally detected, the harm was so decisive that these complex assemblies were far beyond simple repair.

The virus then erased itself in order to cover its tracks. This level of sophistication was such that more than one reporting source speculated that the attack was a coordinated effort involving both Israeli and American intelligence agencies. As an example, highly specific programmable loop controllers (PLCs) were targeted. These industrial process control units are used in a wide variety of manufacturing applications but it required exact knowledge of which brand (Siemens, a German make) was being used in order to substitute the precise operating codes.

Between 2010 and 2012 there were targeted assassinations of four Iranian nuclear scientists and the wounding of another. The use, in some cases, of magnetic bombs made these more than just random drive-by killings.

A 2018 theft involved half a ton of secret materials, including 50,000 pages and 163 compact discs containing files, videos and plans. This caper required detailed foreknowledge in terms of precise internal locations at the actual site, specialized safecracking equipment, and foreknowledge of existing security arrangements which had to be circumvented. Just the logistics of extracting such a bulk of physical assets and spiriting it from within the country constituted an elaborate operation of such gigantic proportions that the preplanning must have been quite extensive.

This latest (2020) Natanz centrifuge assembly facility explosion has been blamed upon internal subversive elements. Possibly, this was done so as to avoid making Israel appear too powerful. In a pronounced shift, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) spokesperson Behrouz Kamalvandi attributed the most recent Natanz attack to “saboteurs”. This may be a concerted effort to reallocate immediate blame away from Israel as part of downplaying the small nation’s outsized role in regularly crippling Iran’s nuclear aspirations. The Jewish state has been a traditional scapegoat to such an extent that it may be attaining a seemingly disproportionate reputation for prowess or responsibility.

Additionally, Islamic pseudo-martyrdom drives a dangerous standard of preemption. Glorification of mass murder must necessarily find itself confronted with extreme countermeasures. Iran’s constant meddling in post-war Iraq, Yemen’s ongoing civil unrest, the destabilization of Lebanon, and Tehran’s divisive sectarian role in the region make it a persistent threat to all neighboring countries. This is most recently exemplified as a driving force behind Saudi Arabia’s intention of establishing strategic parity should Iran attain nuclear capability.

There also is the simple fact that many Sunni Arab countries would, if anything, silently cheer to see the heretical Shiite Iranians fall upon their own sword in order to fulfill Khomeini’s dire threat. Small wonder that increasingly nervous bystanders in the Gulf Region may be looking at America’s renewed support for Israel and quietly hedging their bets against the day when an intractable Iran foolishly makes good on its ominous warning. If an on-paper reconciliation with Israel removes these longstanding adversaries from the Samson Option’s target list, just how much harm is there in extending such a tentative olive branch?

Whether such late-to-the-party appeasement will deflect a wounded Israel’s ultimate wrath undoubtedly occupies the thoughts of its Muslim neighbors. After so many decades of malign hostility, it would come as little surprise if these tardy peacemaking demonstrations did not secure much in the way of actual forgiveness.

11 thoughts on “How Iranian Belligerence May Be Driving Middle East Recognition of Israel

  1. Whether such late-to-the-party appeasement will deflect a wounded Israel’s ultimate wrath undoubtedly occupies the thoughts of its Muslim neighbors. After so many decades of malign hostility, it would come as little surprise if these tardy peacemaking demonstrations did not secure much in the way of actual forgiveness.

    Given what is happening around the world this may be too little too late.

    • Given what is happening around the world this may be too little too late.

      The real camel-in-the-room is Saudi Arabia. If Iran’s persistent aggression can bring Riyadh to the table, then there might be a glimmer of hope for regional stability. The rapprochement would have to be nigh-well universal (sans Iran) for Israel to sheath its sword of Damocles. Characteristic of Islam in general, Tehran (along with Ankara) is making too many enemies too fast for anything short of quasi-unanimity to calm such long troubled waters.

      • Whenever has there been peace between Shiite and sunni? Much less any sect of islam against every religious group under the sun? The Shah of Iran made the major mistake of letting these bloody ayatollah’s live to plot against him along with the communist left the ayatollahs used as cannon fodder. The left paid for their stupidity in believing the ayatollahs who promptly had them all killed when the revolution was won. There is no peace with islam unless you kill it.

  2. There is also the strange attitude of the EU in all this, The EU blindness towards Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its undying support of the PA (PLO) and Hamas, Eurabia is supposedly centred on Saudi Arabia, but I wonder at Iran’s influence too.

    Like Turkey, Iran is strategically situated between Europe and the communist empire(s). This alone gives it influence, Turkey has the EU stalemated, ask any Cypriot. Erdogan is looking for a revived Ottoman Empire with himself as Pasha/Caliph. Iran wants Mecca for the Shias.

    Gulf oil monopolies are also crumbling, and Israeli exploitation of the huge Lavant natural gas field basically negates the effects of the Gulf oil embargo on Israel. So things are changing.

    So for us Israelis, the EU has long been the bogey man, the innate anti-Semitism of Europe has not really changed in hundreds of years, and Israel’s essential ‘nationalism’ is interpreted as Nazism in the eyes of socialist popes and princes. The Jewish State of Israel is an anathema to the European (not) Fourth Reich (honest guv) – hold that false smile Ms Merkel.

  3. Thanks, NorseRadish, for this explanation of the Stuxnet sabotage.

    Proofreading notes: Change “beggars substantial questions” to just “raises substantial questions” ( would be wrong). Change “blamed upon” to “blamed on”.

    You say “the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) spokesperson Behrouz Kamalvandi attributed the most recent Natanz attack to “saboteurs””. I wonder (let’s ask Behrouz) whether the AEOI has solidarity-building song based on

  4. This comment is from France.

    For a low-brow and amateurish guy interested in geo-politics like myself, its looks like the ” Samson Option” is the good answer and, for now, is doing the job.

    But everybody I read about seems to assume the rift and opposotion/ hatred between Sunnis and Chiites is eternal and will last for ever. Everyone seems to rely on that.

    But if you study Islam, you should know that there was a short time — the era of the Burid Princes ( Les Princes Bourides ) in the Middle Ages where they managed to unite the two factions.. This is when they persuaded Sunnis ans Chiites to adopt th same version of the Koran . … Why doesn’t qnyone wander why such adversaries use today the same holy book? As you know Mosques in Ryad and Teheran use the same Koran…

    It happened once; it could happen again.

    What would happen if there were changes in leaderships in these countries and young generations wpuld forget their diffrences to unite and gang-up against Israel? Right now it seems Qatar’s Sultan is aiming in that direction….

    But I am sure strategists in Israël have long ago considered that possibility…

    Signed:Ernst Rudiger ( I chose this moniker because its the name of the le ader of the Soldiers and Viennese residents who managed to hold the battered walls of Vienna with incredible courage, until the king of Poland Jan Sobieski could arrive with his army and save the day, on spetember 12 1683. )

    • There is a famous Bedouin proverb; I against my brother, my brothers and I against my cousins, then my cousins and I against strangers.

      To me it seems that Sunni and Shia are like two quarreling brothers who occasionally will join together to beat down their cousin (in this case secular or friendly to the West arab leaders), and all will join in when there is a stranger nearby to molest (Israel or western nations).

      The biggest reason why they never seem to join together for taking down bigger prey is that they are all too busy chasing after their own small slice of the pie to realize that if they joined together they could take the whole thing and thereby all have a bigger slice. One positive trait of human nature I guess. The leader who is able to unite such disparate tribes and wield them as a weapon is very rare indeed. The meanness and selfishness of human nature has probably prevented far more misery than it has caused.

      • good to be reminded, Moon.
        The introductory quote is to be found in the novel „Hadsch“ by Leon Uris. He describes the early settlement of Israels territory ( I avoid the word palestinian, because they do not exist) and renders an on spot analysis of the arabic mindset. A book I still have to finish reading.

  5. Any deal with muslims is a short term expedient, and the saudi’s cannot be trusted any more than the Iranians.
    Islam is islam, the sectarian squabbling is over succession of the caliph.
    All muslims are as one in their desire to kill and enslave kuffar. The Genocide of Jews is a commandment, and a requirement. It is a virtue for a muslim.
    Thus, any accommodation with these stinky unibrow goat rapers is temporary, and will be discarded for blood, fire and atrocity the moment the muslims think they can do it.
    Sadly, a quick look into the near future tells us that we should [intemperate recommendations redacted].
    The longer we wait, the worse it will be.
    It’s us or them. I vote Us.
    Alea Iacta Est.

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