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
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.