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Iran. Iran’s Deterrence Concept (INSS)

Ephraim Kam

The Iranian regime has assembled a large toolbox to deter military, economic, and political challenges and threats. The foundation of this deterrence system is a large arsenal of missiles built in Iran and in the possession of Shiite militias, most prominently, Hezbollah. The militias are designated for land warfare against Iran’s adversaries; Iran’s large naval array threatens shipping and oil exports in the Persian Gulf. Nuclear capability would compound Iran’s deterrence, even if Tehran is in no hurry to use it. Consequently, even Iran’s powerful adversaries, including the United States and Israel, avoid steps liable to lead to large-scale conflict. Nonetheless, there are weak points in Iran’s deterrence system. Realizing the superiority of the US military, the regime too is careful to avoid large-scale conflict. Iran has no solution for the heavy economic pressure leveled by the US or for the Israeli attacks on Iranian and Shiite targets in Syria. It recoils from using its missile system against the US and Israel, except on a limited scale. The killing of Qasem Soleimani and Mohsen Fakhrizadeh demonstrate that Iran faces difficult deterrence challenges.

Iran’s Deterrence Concept – INSS

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Abraham Accord. A Year since the Abraham Accords: Pick up the Pace of Normalization (INSS)

Yoel Guzansky, Udi Dekel
The Abraham Accords represent a substantial achievement for Israel. At the same time, the potential for improving both Israel’s strategic position and its response to the challenges it faces has not been fully realized. The shared regional threat from Iran was, and remains, the primary motive for the Abraham Accords. This drive, however, has lost momentum with the change in United States policy under the Biden administration. Inter alia, it seems that the US is far less willing to provide security and economic rewards to the countries that signed the Abraham Accords. Still, creating a wide range of countries that cooperate toward stability in the Middle East aimed at thwarting Iran’s influence in the region remains an important challenge and goal. Israel should therefore supply what it can missing in the security sphere and promote cooperation agreements that highlight the benefits of peace by removing bureaucratic obstacles that delay implementation of the agreements, and by recruiting business concerns and external partners for investment in infrastructure initiatives that contribute to prosperity.
A Year since the Abraham Accords: Pick up the Pace of Normalization | INSS
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Syria – Humanitarian Aid in Northern Syria – But What About the South? (INSS)

Carmit Valensi

In July 2021, the UN Mandate to operate the border crossing for conveying humanitarian aid to the Idlib region, which is controlled by the rebels in northern Syria and not by the central regime in Damascus, was extended for another year (after six months an activity report will be submitted for an additional six-month extension). Some 3.4 million Syrians live in the area, mostly in refugee camps, in conditions of hunger and dire poverty. Since the border crossing began operation in 2014, it has been the main lifeline for humanitarian aid for the local population and displaced persons. Each month more than 1,000 trucks containing food and medicine for the needy millions cross the border at Bab al-Hawa.

Humanitarian Aid in Northern Syria – But What About the South? | INSS

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Iran – No Electricity, No Water, New President (INSS)

Raz Zimmt writes: In recent weeks, the growing shortages of water and electricity have sparked a series of demonstrations in Iran. In early July 2021, hundreds of people took to the streets in a number of cities in protest against the many prolonged power outages that afflicted large areas throughout the country. Inter alia, the power outages caused interruptions of water supplies and disruptions of cellular networks and the internet. Deaths among hospital patients caused by sudden power failures and the lack of backup generators were also reported. The authorities blamed the repeated power outages on a severe electricity deficit estimated at 11,000 megawatts. The shortage of electricity is attributable to the severe heatwave, which led people to increase their consumption of electricity; an ongoing lack of resources for producing energy, due to the drought; a halt in production by a number of power stations because of technical malfunctions; excessive electricity consumption, partly illegal, by the bitcoin mining industry; and the economic sanctions, which have forced the government to cut back its investments in the development of the power industry. Some of the demonstrations also included criticism of the regime, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and the government.

Iran: No Electricity, No Water, New President | INSS

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Israel – Shortening Men’s Compulsory IDF Service: Beyond Economic Ramifications (INSS)

Meir Elran, Sasson Hadad, Tomer Fadlon, Ofer Shelah

On July 27, 2021, an agreement was reached on the defense budget for 2022, including the postponement until 2025 of the measure to shorten men’s compulsory military service to 30 months. This recent decision, which overrides the decision of July 2020 to shorten the compulsory service period, reflects the position of the IDF Chief of Staff, who since assuming his post in January 2019 has opposed shortening the period of compulsory service, given the framework of his proposed Tnufa (“Momentum”) multi-year plan, which the government has yet to approve.

Shortening Men’s Compulsory IDF Service: Beyond Economic Ramifications | INSS

 

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Israel – INSS Presents H. E. President Isaac Herzog with “Strategic Challenges Facing Israel, and Policy Recommendations” (INSS)

INSS writes: At the start of H. E. President Isaac Herzog’s term of office, and following the many global and local developments and changes over the past six months – including a new administration in Washington, President Biden’s decision to try to return to the nuclear deal with Iran, the formation of a new government in Israel, and growing tensions in Israeli society, including clashes between Arabs and Jews in Israeli cities – the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) presented to President Herzog highlights on the main strategic challenges facing Israel and policy recommendations for addressing those challenges.

go to INSS: INSS Presents H. E. President Isaac Herzog with “Strategic Challenges Facing Israel, and Policy Recommendations” | INSS

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Lebanon/Israel – Lebanon’s Collapse, and the Significance for Israel (INSS)

Orna Mizrahi, Yoram Schweitzer write for INSS: The ongoing deterioration of Lebanon’s economy and the country’s political chaos have sharpened the dilemma of Israel’s new government as it formulates its policy on Lebanon. It appears that in any case, Israel should adopt a more proactive approach, rather than treating the negative consequences of events in Lebanon as preordained, especially in the extreme scenario of a total takeover by Hezbollah, which would turn the country into an Iranian sphere of influence, similar to Syria. Rescinding the sanctions against Iran following a possible return to the nuclear agreement by the United States may accelerate this scenario. At the same time, recent developments in Lebanon provide a potential opportunity for the IDF to deal a more substantial blow to Hezbollah’s military capabilities, and quash the attempts to forge a new “deterrence equation” that includes shooting from Lebanon in response to clashes on the Temple Mount and elsewhere in Jerusalem.
go to INSS: Lebanon’s Collapse, and the Significance for Israel | INSS
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Iran – More Soul Searching: Iran’s Reformists following the Presidential Elections (INSS)

Raz Zimmt writes for INSS: The victory of Ebrahim Raisi in Iran’s presidential elections has reawakened the internal debate among Iranian reformists concerning the state and future of the reform movement. A number of leading reformists are blaming the movement’s failure on mistaken strategy, and are calling for change, return to the movement’s fundamental principles, and restoration of its base of public support. On the other hand, others are blaming the failure on circumstances beyond the reformists’ control, and continue to support a strategy based on participation in elections and willingness to work with pragmatic conservatives. It is very doubtful, however, whether the reformists will be able to take advantage of the renewed takeover by the hardliners and chart a way out of the impasse that they have reached, given the ongoing political repression and the loss of public confidence in the two main political camps. The lack of an attractive alternative to conservative hegemony, combined with the continued failure of the authorities to provide solutions popular grievances, is liable to further erode public confidence in the political system, strengthen the radical movements advocating revolutionary change, and jeopardize the regime’s long-term stability.

go to INSS: More Soul Searching: Iran’s Reformists following the Presidential Elections | INSS

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The EU and Israel: At Least on Speaking Terms (INSS)

Shimon Stein and Oded Eran write: The European Union and the Israeli government are divided over the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and in the last decade disagreements have intensified to the point of a political rift between the senior echelons of EU institutions and Israel. This disconnect is reflected in the fact that the Association Council – the most senior forum for dialogue between EU members and institutions and countries that are not members but are considered important partners for the EU – has not met in the past decade, although it is supposed to convene every year. However, in their monthly meeting on July 12, 2021, the EU foreign ministers hosted Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, thus signaling a willingness to examine a return to dialogue with Israel. Yet realizing these intentions depends to a large extent, though not exclusively, on a fundamental change in Israel’s approach to the day-to-day problems of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and especially its avoidance of measures that would thwart future implementation of a two-state solution.
go to INSS: The EU and Israel: At Least on Speaking Terms | INSS
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