Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post
Despite the happy face that Israeli officials tried to put on last month’s meeting of intelligence/security leaders with President Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, as David Steinberg’s blockbuster scoop at PJ media, posted in the first comment below makes clear, the meeting was horrible, and its failure bears out the criticisms that I and other analysts sounded against McMaster in early August.
While firing NSC directors and senior officials like Derek Harvey and Ezra Cohen Watnick who believe that Israel is a strategic US ally and who share Israel’s growing concerns over Iran and its takeover of Syria, McMaster hired anti-Israel analyst Kris Bauman to head the Israel-Palestine desk of the NSC and has allowed anti-Israel former Obama NSC officials like Robert Malley to continue to wield influence at the NSC .
Even more importantly from a strategic perspective, McMaster hired Mustafa Javed Ali as the NSC’s Senior Director for counter-terrorism.
As Steinberg reports, Ali believes that Hezbollah is not a terrorist organization and insists on making a distinction between active trigger pullers and their terrorist leadership, viewing only the former as bad guys while the latter labelled “moderates.” In this vein, he similarly rejects efforts to label the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.
According to Steinberg’s exclusive report based on statements by multiple sources, the Israeli delegation to the NSC last month, which was led by Mossad director Yossi Cohen demanded that Ali be removed from the conference room during the parlay at the White House.
As I and others have reported, McMaster belittles Israel’s concerns about Iran and its takeover of Syria.
This basic perspective has had deleterious consequences for US policy towards Iran, as another story from yesterday makes clear….
Yesterday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu devoted time during his appearance with Argentine President Mauricio Macri in Buenos Aires to denying a Reuters report claiming that Israel opposes US withdrawal from Obama’s 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
The report, published by Reuters and linked below outlines the Iran strategy that McMaster, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis have put together and hope to convince Trump to accept.
The reported strategy involves the US allowing Iran and its Shiite proxies to have free reign in Syria and Iraq in order not to distract US forces from the campaign against ISIS. The report claims that Trump’s top national security advisers think that Iranian-controlled Shiite militia have been doing great work fighting ISIS.
And, again, the report falsely claims that Israel wants the US to continue abiding by the nuclear deal.
The Reuters report appears to be sourced from officials who at a minimum support the plan to maintain Obama’s pro-Iran policies in Iraq and Syria.
As for the rest of the strategy, it revolves around stepping up US responses to Iranian aggression in the Gulf. In other words, Trump’s team wants to roll over on Iran in the Levant, sacrificing Israel and Jordan, and pretend that Iran doesn’t have an overall strategy that involves the entire region.
Taken together, the Steinberg report and the Reuters report indicate that Trump’s national security team, quarterbacked by McMaster is maintaining Obama’s policy of rejecting the importance of the US-Israel alliance while mollycoddling Iran and facilitating its expansion of power and aggression in the Levant while enabling it to continue its nuclear weapons development.
As the Steinberg article points out, after I wrote my Facebook post in early August outlining allegations by senior White House sources claiming that McMaster is anti-Israel, McMaster’s allies carried out a major media campaign to discredit these allegations.
These two stories indicate that while the pro-McMaster campaign succeeded in silencing criticism, the allegations I and others reported regarding McMaster were valid. They exposed a real problem with the strategic outlook of the Trump administration with everything related to Iran and the threat it poses to the US and to the US’s allies and interests in the Middle East.