The announcement last week by the United
States of the largest military aid
package in its history – to Israel – was
a win for both sides.
minister Benjamin Netanyahu could boast
that his lobbying had boosted aid from
$3.1 billion a year to $3.8bn – a 22 per
cent increase – for a decade starting in
Mr Netanyahu has presented this as a
rebuff to those who accuse him of
jeopardising Israeli security interests
with his government’s repeated affronts
to the White House.
In the past weeks alone, defence
minister Avigdor Lieberman has compared
last year’s nuclear deal between
Washington and Iran with the 1938 Munich
pact, which bolstered Hitler; and Mr
Netanyahu has implied that US opposition
to settlement expansion is the same as
support for the “ethnic cleansing” of
American president Barack Obama,
meanwhile, hopes to stifle his own
critics who insinuate that he is
anti-Israel. The deal should serve as a
fillip too for Hillary Clinton, the
Democratic party’s candidate to succeed
Mr Obama in November’s election.
In reality, however, the Obama
administration has quietly punished Mr
Netanyahu for his misbehaviour. Israeli
expectations of a $4.5bn-a-year deal
were whittled down after Mr Netanyahu
stalled negotiations last year as he
sought to recruit Congress to his battle
against the Iran deal.
In fact, Israel already receives
roughly $3.8bn – if Congress’s
assistance on developing missile defence
programmes is factored in. Notably,
Israel has been forced to promise not to
approach Congress for extra funds.
The deal takes into account neither
inflation nor the dollar’s depreciation
against the shekel.
A bigger blow still is the White
House’s demand to phase out a special
exemption that allowed Israel to spend
nearly 40 per cent of aid locally on
weapon and fuel purchases. Israel will
soon have to buy all its armaments from
the US, ending what amounted to a
subsidy to its own arms industry.
Nonetheless, Washington’s renewed
military largesse – in the face of
almost continual insults – inevitably
fuels claims that the Israeli tail is
wagging the US dog. Even The New York
Times has described the aid package as
Since the 1973 war, Israel has
received at least $100bn in military
aid, with more assistance hidden from
view. Back in the 1970s, Washington paid
half of Israel’s military budget. Today
it still foots a fifth of the bill,
despite Israel’s economic success.
But the US expects a return on its
massive investment. As the late Israeli
politician-general Ariel Sharon once
observed, Israel has been a US
“aircraft carrier” in the Middle East,
acting as the regional bully and
carrying out operations that benefit
Almost no one blames the US for
Israeli attacks that wiped out Iraq’s
and Syria’s nuclear programmes. A
nuclear-armed Iraq or Syria would have
deterred later US-backed moves at regime
overthrow, as well as countering the
strategic advantage Israel derives from
its own nuclear arsenal.
In addition, Israel’s US-sponsored
military prowess is a triple boon to the
US weapons industry, the country’s most
powerful lobby. Public funds are
siphoned off to let Israel buy goodies
from American arms makers. That, in
turn, serves as a shop window for other
customers and spurs an endless and
lucrative game of catch-up in the rest
of the Middle East.
The first F-35 fighter jets to arrive
in Israel in December – their various
components produced in 46 US states –
will increase the clamour for the
Israel is also a “front-line
laboratory”, as former Israeli army
negotiator Eival Gilady admitted at the
weekend, that develops and field-tests
new technology Washington can later use
The US is planning to buy back the
missile interception system Iron Dome –
which neutralises battlefield threats of
retaliation – it largely paid for.
Israel works closely too with the US in
developing cyberwarfare, such as the
Stuxnet worm that damaged Iran’s
civilian nuclear programme.
But the clearest message from
Israel’s new aid package is one
delivered to the Palestinians:
Washington sees no pressing strategic
interest in ending the occupation. It
stood up to Mr Netanyahu over the Iran
deal but will not risk a damaging clash
over Palestinian statehood.
Some believe that Mr Obama signed the
aid package to win the credibility
necessary to overcome his domestic
Israel lobby and pull a rabbit from the
hat: an initiative, unveiled shortly
before he leaves office, that corners Mr
Netanyahu into making peace.
Hopes have been raised by an expected
meeting at the United Nations in New
York on Wednesday. But their first talks
in 10 months are planned only to
demonstrate unity to confound critics of
the aid deal.
If Mr Obama really wanted to pressure
Mr Netanyahu, he would have used the aid
agreement as leverage. Now Mr Netanyahu
need not fear US financial retaliation,
even as he intensifies effective
annexation of the West Bank.
Mr Netanyahu has drawn the right
lesson from the aid deal – he can act
against the Palestinians with continuing
- See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/2016-09-19/palestinians-lose-in-us-military-aid-deal-with-israel/#sthash.fL4Eq28N.dpuf
If Russia Wins Aleppo It's the End of
American Hegemony in the Middle East
The real reason US is screeching about
By M.K. Bhadrakumar
October 08, 2016 "Information
Monday, Barack Obama administration
fulfilled its week-old threat to ‘suspend’
bilateral talks with Russia over Syrian
crisis. Are the dogs of war being unleashed?
US spy planes are spotted ever more
frequently in the Eastern Mediterranean and
the Black Sea over Russian bases, especially
Tartus and Hmeimim in Syria.The thought may
seem preposterous but tensions are palpable.
Russia has deployed SA-23 Gladiator
anti-missile and anti-aircraft system in
Syria, first-ever such deployment outside
Russia. The western analysts see it as
pre-emptive step to counter any American
cruise missile attack. Russia is not taking
Defence Ministry in Moscow said the
deployment is intended “to provide
protection for the naval logistics facility
in Tartus and the Russian Navy’s task
Moscow factors in that US may use some rebel
groups to ensure that Russian “body bags”
are sent to Moscow, as threatened explicitly
by US state department spokesman John Kirby
last week. Moscow suspects American hand in
the missile attack on the Russian embassy in
Damascus – “Brits and Ukrainians clumsily
helped the Americans”, a Russian statement
in New York said on Tuesday.
Indeed, passions are running high. There
could be several dozen western intelligence
operatives trapped with the rebel groups in
east Aleppo. This is one thing.
Clearly, the turning point was reached when
the US and western allies undertook a fierce
air attack on the Syrian army base at Deir
Ezzor lasting an hour and killing 62
government troops. The US explanation of
that being an accident lost credibility,
since within an hour of the air strike,
extremist groups of al-Qaeda followed up
with ground attack as if acting in tandem.
Trust has consequently broken down. The
Russians are convinced that the US was never
really interested in separating the
‘moderate’ groups from extremists despite
repeated promises, because Washington sees
use for al-Qaeda affiliates, which happen to
be the only capable fighting force to push
the ‘regime change agenda in Syria.
differently, Russians are inclined to agree
with what Tehran has been saying all along.
Moscow, therefore, switched tack and put its
resources behind the Syrian operations to
capture the strategic city of Aleppo. The
military campaign is within sight of
That is, unless there is a US intervention
in the coming days to tilt the military
balance in favour of extremist groups that
are trapped in the eastern districts of
Aleppo with supply lines for reinforcements
main thrust of the multi-pronged attack by
government forces, backed by crack Hezbollah
units and Shi’ite militia, is from the
southeast of Aleppo with massive Russian
aerial bombardment and a brigade-strong
Russian contingent positioning itself
reportedly in the rear to reinforce the main
attack if need arises.
Russians also control Castello Road leading
to the north toward Turkish border, which
was the last remaining supplying route for
the extremist rebel pockets in east Aleppo.
With no prospect of getting reinforcements,
facing relentless air and ground attacks
from the north and south, the rebels are
staring at a hopeless battle of attrition.
point is, with the fall of Aleppo, Syrian
war becomes de facto a residual military
operation to purge the al-Qaeda affiliate
Jubhat al-Nusra from Idlib province as well,
which means regime forces would secure
control over the entire populous regions of
Syria, all main cities and entire
Mediterranean coast. In a nutshell, Syrian
war ends with President Bashar al-Assad
ensconced in power.
specter of ‘total victory’ for Assad haunts
Washington. It explains the string of
vituperative statements against Moscow,
betraying a high level of frustration.
Theoretically, Obama can order missile
attacks on the victorious Syrian government
forces. But that will be like pouring oil on
fire. On Saturday, Russian Defense Ministry
warned Pentagon that any US military
intervention to remove Assad would result in
“terrible tectonic shifts” across the
threat was left vaguely suspended in the
air. But on Sunday, the powerful advisor on
foreign affairs to Iran’s Supreme Leader,
Ali Akbar Velayati, was pretty much blunt,
warning Washington that any direct US
intervention would be a “suicidal action”
and will only turn out to be “their
(American) third military defeat in the
region after Afghanistan and Iraq, and it
will be a stronger defeat”.
However, if Obama decides against the war
option, three other reasons can also be
attributed. One, Washington’s equations with
Ankara and Riyadh are hugely uncertain at
the moment and both regional allies are key
partners in Syria.
US-Turkish ties remain volatile not only due
to the attempted coup in July but also
because of the US’ tie-up with Kurds and
growing Turkish suspicions regarding its
intentions in Syria.
the other hand, Riyadh is mulling over the
best way of drinking from the chalice of
poison that the US Congress prepared for
King Salman in the form of the
Two, President Recep Erdogan is unlikely to
gamble another confrontation with Russia
when Turkey’s legitimate interests in Syria
can be secured by working in tandem with
President Vladimir Putin at the negotiating
fact, Putin is visiting Ankara shortly.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad
Zarif also visited Turkey last week.
Above all, Turks are realists and their
excellent intelligence apparatus inside
Aleppo would have reported back by now that
the fall of the ancient city is a fait
Third, most important, Obama is unlikely to
lead his country into the vicious war zone
without any clear-cut objective to realize
when the curtain is coming down on his
presidency. In the current state of play,
Assad stands between the West and the
what rankles is that Russian victory in
Syria marks the end of western hegemony over
the Middle East, and historians are bound to
single it out as the defining foreign-policy
legacy of Obama’s presidency.
Certainly, Russians cannot but be sensing
this. Moscow may offer at some point a
face-saving exit strategy – but only after
the capture of Aleppo.
After all, there is really no hurry between
now and January to salvage Russia-US ties.
The tragic paradigm is best evoked by
quoting Omar Khayyam’s lines – ‘The Moving
Finger writes, and, having writ, Moves on”.
debris of Russia’s ties with the US lies all
around and no one knows where to begin a
clean-up. Things have got physical when
Obama called Kremlin leadership as
“barbarous” in regard of Aleppo.
Monday, Moscow explained its decision to
suspend cooperation in getting rid of excess
plutonium (that could be used to make
nuclear weapons) as due to “the emergence of
a threat to strategic stability and as a
result of unfriendly actions” by the US.
Yet, it was also a decision that Moscow
could have deferred until Obama left office.
After all, it meant suspending the sole
Russian-American nuclear security initiative
carrying Obama’s imprimatur.
Moscow couldn’t resist debunking a Nobel who
promised to ensure “America’s commitment to
seek the peace and security of a world
without nuclear weapons,” but actually
enhanced the role of nuclear weapons in US