Neri Zilber is a journalist covering Middle East politics and an adjunct fellow of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He is the co-author of State with No Army, Army with No State: Evolution of the Palestinian Authority Security Forces 1994-2018. Neri writes regularly for The Daily Beast, Foreign Policy, Politico and other international outlets.
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Earlier this year, Israeli military intelligence ruled out the chances of any new deal including Iran’s malign regional activity and of Iranian missile development as extremely unlikely — contrary to demands still aired periodically by certain Israeli officials and U.S. analysts. Today, albeit not widely publicized, in Israeli eyes the nuclear issue should be completely decoupled from the regional dimension, lest it create more bargaining power for Tehran.
While Israel isn’t the U.S., and Lebanon isn’t Afghanistan, the common themes that run through both sets of wars are jarring, especially in the way a Western democracy tries to end a military campaign and how it manages (or not) the fate of local allies who fought alongside it.
The very political figures that Israel’s longest-serving prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu nurtured and elevated conspired to end his reign. They did so, not out of ideological resolve, but out of exasperation that Netanyahu’s last days were following the Trump playbook.
Even amid the weeks of unrest, Israeli military had assessed that Hamas wouldn’t jeopardize the established “rules of the game,” as defense officials unofficially call a years-long pragmatic arrangement between the two sides. But this arrangement, quiet for easing measures, was upended by recent events.
The U.S. and Iran are set on a course for renegotiating the 2015 nuclear deal. While reporting, I found that Israelis see a lot of room to maneuver, particularly in light of Arab countries’ normalization with Israel.
How Dahlan ended up in Abu Dhabi at the side of a crown prince is still shrouded in mystery, although the likeliest explanation is that the connections of Mohammed Rashid, an Iraqi Kurd and the PLO’s former “money man,” paved the way.