Yoram Ettinger

By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
December 30, 2020, https://bit.ly/2L8gbg5

Worldview and track record
Jake Sullivan’s worldview and track record (e.g., Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Dartmouth College, State Department, key advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President-Elect Joe Biden) highlight:

*Attachment to Europe’s culture, history and geo-strategic thinking;
*Multilateralism through expanded national security collaboration with Europe, the UN and international alliances and organizations, rather than unilateralism;
*Democracy and human rights-driven foreign policy [however, in the Middle East, Arab regimes do not lend themselves to human rights and consider democracy an existential threat];
*The reassertion of the State Department worldview [despite its systematic blunders in the Middle East];
*The restructuring of the defense budget by expanding “civilian tools” and reducing “military tools” of national security [in a stormy world, which requires an enhanced, not reduced, US posture of deterrence].
*The shared worldview and track record of Antony Blinken (Secretary of State-designate) and Jake Sullivan may constitute the ideological backbone of President-elect Joe Biden’s foreign and national security policy-making.

Iran
Jake Sullivan played a key role in negotiating the 2015 Iran nuclear accord (JCPOA). He opposes a regime-change policy, believing that Iran’s Ayatollahs are amenable to negotiation and peaceful-coexistence. Therefore, he will ditch the current policy of financial and military pressure, attempting to rejoin the accord – while expanding its duration and scope – which he believes would restore trust and cooperation with the international community.

The JCPOA was rejected by all pro-US Arab states as articulated on December 28, 2020 by the Riyadh-based Arab News: “We should focus on the original end of the nuclear deal, which is turning Iran into a normal state that does not pose a threat to the security and safety of the international community. It is impossible to accept a deal that prevents Iran from threatening global security and peace for 15 years [which is the duration of the JCPOA], and then allow it to resume the threat. There are no reformists in Iran, capable of persuading the regime to be more open to the West. The JCPOA was not sufficiently reviewed as far as its impact on Iran’s belligerence, internationally and regionally. The Ayatollahs took immediate advantage of the JCPOA to support their [rogue] proxies and allies in the region, boost their missile program, purchase weapons, and strengthen their vast domestic repressive apparatuses….”

In fact, the JCPOA (a model of multilateralism) has not diverted Iran’s Ayatollahs from their fanatic, megalomaniacal strategic goal to control the Persian Gulf, Middle East, the Muslim World and beyond.  The JCPOA has generated a financial and political tailwind to the Ayatollahs’ dominant stature in the region, unchallenged by the US, and posing an existential threat to all US Arab allies. It has bolstered Iran’s systematic subversion, terrorism and wars in the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and Latin America, aiming to weaken the “Great US Satan,” while emerging as a nuclear power in 10-15 years, or less, following 2015.

Saudi Arabia
Jake Sullivan lumps together the pro-US Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman and Egypt’s General Muhammed Al Sisi with arch rivals of the US, such as North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, China’s Xi Gi Ping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Erdogan.

He criticizes Saudi violations of human rights and lack of democracy,  while playing down, or avoiding, criticism of Iran’s hate-education and ruthless repression of its population, including hanging and stoning dissidents, gay people and adulterous women, in addition to the oppression of religious and ethnic minorities, such as Arabs, Azerbaijanis Turks, Kurds, Baluchis, Baha’is, Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians.

Sullivan flirts with the idea of a potential peaceful coexistence and stature-sharing between the Shite Ayatollahs and the Sunni Arab states.

Sullivan opposes the Saudi-led war against Yemen’s Houthis and the Iranian contingency in Yemen – which use Yemen as a stepping ground to bomb Saudi Arabia – on account of the high civilian Yemenite death toll and denial of human rights.

He sidesteps Middle Eastern Arab reality, which is still dominated by 1,400 year-old Islamic precepts and geo-strategic features, does not lend itself to Western democracy and human rights, and where the choice is between pro-US or anti-US human rights violating Arab regimes.

Sullivan may recommend the suspension of the supply of advanced US military systems to Saudi Arabia, as a means to pressure Riyadh, which may force the Saudis to seek similar systems from Russia, China or Europe.

Egypt
The pro-US President Sisi is troubled by Sullivan’s human rights criticism of Egypt, while classifying the Muslim Brotherhood – which is the largest Islamic terrorist group with multitude of political branches, some of them in the US – as a largely secular political organization. Sullivan has ignored/under-estimated the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist threat, regionally and globally.

In 2009, he supported President Obama’s decision to court the anti-US Muslim Brotherhood – which has terrorized Egypt since 1952 – during Obama’s visit to Cairo, while turning his back on the pro-US authoritarian President Mubarak.

This eroded US reliability among allies, fueled violence in Egypt, which led to the 2011 toppling of Mubarak and the 2012-2013 rule by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Just like Saudi Arabia, a US antagonistic policy toward Egypt may push General Sisi toward Russia, which has maintained commercial and military contacts with Egypt since the 1950s.

Libya.
Sullivan played a pivotal role in shaping the 2011 US-led NATO military offensive against Qadhafi, which was aimed at stopping Qadhafi’s ruthless war on his domestic opponents. However, the offensive disintegrated Libya and triggered civil wars, which have drawn foreign involvement, such as Turkey, Russia, Qatar, France, Italy, UAE and Greece.  Libya became a major platform of Islamic terrorism, haunting North, West and Central Africa, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Europe. Moreover, the US-led offensive terminated the regime of Qadhafi, who was transformed (since 2003) from a ruthless supporter of – to a ruthless warrior against – Islamic terrorism. Until the ill-advised 2011 offensive, Qadhafi provided the US with invaluable intelligence on global terrorism, and transferred his nuclear infrastructure to the US.

Israel
Sullivan subscribes to the erroneous assumptions that the Palestinian issue is a major issue on the Arab agenda, a core cause of regional turbulence and the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict.   He may undervalue the wider, regional and global features of the US-Israel connection – which are significantly more relevant to the region and the US than the Palestinian issue –  such as Israel’s force-multiplier contribution to the US in the form of bolstering pro-US Arab regimes, and in the face of the Ayatollahs’ and Muslim Brotherhood’s proliferation of anti-US Islamic terrorism throughout the globe, the potential threat of Turkey’s Erdogan and the US-Israel joint pursuit of game-changing commercial and defense technologies.

Israel-Arab peace accords
Will Sullivan conclude the proper lessons from the litany of failed Israel-Palestinian peace initiatives, which focused on the Palestinian issue, according the Palestinians a veto power over peace?

Is Sullivan aware of the Arab opposition to the proposed Palestinian state, which all pro-US Arab regimes consider added-fuel to the Middle East fire?

Is Sullivan aware of the intrinsic Palestinian strategic goal, which does not tolerate Jewish sovereignty west of the Jordan River, as reflected by the Palestinian Authority school curriculum and the systematic Palestinian track record?

Will Sullivan adopt the approach of bypassing the Palestinian issue, and focusing on Israel-Arab and US interests, which produced the recent peace and normalization accords between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, thus further expanding the circle of Israel-Arab peace?