At the moment the negotiators and diplomats are very silent about the Iran deal talks. After Iranian hardliner Raisi was elected as Iranian prime minister, the future of the negotations were seen rather pessimistic as the positions of the USA and Iran would be even harder to moderate and Iran was pushing his enrichment program. While there were a lot of cyber and sabotage attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities, in Israel there was also a heated debate about a military strike against Iran again. Bennett and Gantz also made comments that Israel might have “to act”. Israel has now requested the USA to deliver tanker aircrafts and refuellers which are needed for an Israeli military strike against Iran. However, the Jerusalem Post reports:
“US rejects Israeli request for tanker aircraft as Iran plans advance
The US has reportedly rejected an Israeli request to fast-track the delivery of two tanker aircraft.
By Jerusalem Post Staff
Published: DECEMBER 13, 2021 10:17
The US has rejected an Israeli request to fast-track the delivery of two tanker aircraft which had been ordered by Israel, as plans for a possible military option against Iran’s nuclear plan move forward, Ynet reported on Monday.
In October, sources in the Defense Ministry stated that senior Israel Air Force (IAF) officers had requested that the supply of four KC-46 tanker aircraft from the US be sped up, asking that two of the aircraft be delivered immediately. The officers asked that the other two be supplied within the next two to three years.
According to the Ynet report, the IDF hopes to convince the US over the next year.
The US State Department approved the possible sale of up to eight KC-46 tanker aircraft and related equipment to Israel for an estimated cost of $2.4 billion last March, marking the first time that Washington has allowed Jerusalem to buy new tankers.
Israel was set to receive two of the Boeing-made planes by late 2023, and during former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s last visit to Washington, he raised the issue that two of the eight tankers be supplied in the next year.
The KC-46 tankers will replace Israel’s Ram (Boeing 707) tanker aircraft that are required for long-range missions and nearing the age of 60.
Israel’s fleet of Ram planes, the number of which remains confidential, are former civilian aircraft adapted for military uses such as aerial refueling for fighter jets, as well as its fleet of transport aircraft. They were grounded last year.
The new KC-46 tankers can refuel jets with 1,200 gallons of fuel per minute by its fly-by-wire 55-ft. refueling boom. It also can have wing air refueling pods allowing three jets to be refueled at once within three to four minutes.
With a range of 11,830 km., with the capacity to unload some 207,000 lbs. of fuel, the KC-46 can refuel over 64 different types of aircraft.
Such refueling aircraft would be critical for a strike on Iran, as a mission against Iran would need to travel over a thousand kilometers in each direction.
During a recent visit to the US, Defense Minister Benny Gantz updated American officials that he had set a deadline for when the IDF will need to complete preparations for an attack against Iran. There was no US veto to Israel’s plans, according to a senior diplomatic source.
The US and Israel are reportedly planning large joint exercises to prepare for a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear program.
Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.
Maybe the Biden administration wants to delay the delivery to deescalate the relations with Iran in the hope that the Iranian side will moderate its extreme positions, however it is clear that even if the request was confirmed that it would some time till the real delivery could actually be made and such requests already have a long history:
““Israel’s endless saga of KC-46 refuelers and Iran
Israel’s acquisition of long-range tanker aircraft has always taken place in the shadow of potential conflict with Iran.
By Seth J. Frantzman
Published: DECEMBER 13, 2021 20:22
Updated: DECEMBER 14, 2021 18:38
Reports indicated over the last year that Israel was seeking to speed up delivery of KC-46A refuelers, a type of tanker aircraft that can aid long-range operations. Israel has purchased two of the advanced aircraft.
Israel’s acquisition of long-range tanker aircraft has always taken place in the shadow of potential conflict with Iran. However, stories that the Jewish state wants the procurement to happen faster, or that the delivery is happening slower than desired, may be timed more for reports of Iran tensions than reflecting the reality of complex expensive procurement.
A new report at Ynet claimed that “the Biden administration has rejected Israel’s request to expedite delivery of two KC-46 refueling jets out of four purchased, which would facilitate IAF flights to attack Iran.” The KC-46A Pegasus is based on the 767 jet airliner.
The saga of the jets and the implications that a slower delivery might set back any confrontation with Iran only appear to be linked. If Israel had wanted to upgrade its refueler fleet – some 50 years old – it could and should have done it years ago. This appears to be one more product of the Netanyahu era – tough talk on Iran threats, while preparations were lacking. Israel currently uses modified Boeing 707s as tankers.
The saga goes back even further though. In 2013, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had come to the Middle East and reports said the US had signed off on sales of KC-135s that would be a “signal” to Iran. In 2008 the Post reported that the US had rejected a request for KC-767 aircraft because it might “appear to support an Israeli strike on Iran.”
This is the seemingly endless saga of Israel’s attempts to acquire and then waiting to decide on acquiring long-range tankers. That being said, it’s not clear that the current report reflects reality. There has been a lot of messaging recently in the media about Israel-Iran tensions. This has included leaks and other details circulated. This includes reports of Jerusalem’s preparations for potential conflict with Tehran, concerns over the US reentering some kind of Iran deal, concerns over Iran’s enrichment of uranium and a recent trip by Defense Minister Benny Gantz to the US.
Because procurement of aircraft takes a long time and because budgets must be allocated and aircraft built – and then pilots trained on the new systems before the aircraft even arrive and become operational – it stands to reason that the various reports about speeding up delivery are not a simple matter of just grabbing some aircraft from the production line and flying them over.
Considering the Iran tensions and the known timelines relating to Iran’s enrichment and Iran deal discussions in Vienna, the fact that the aircraft are not already in Israel reflects the long pipeline and tail that procurement inevitably includes. That Israel fumbled over a defense budget for years and waited to decide on the aircraft is part of the story as well.
Iran on the other side reacts with a threat in the Teheran Times that Iran in the event of an Israeli military attack would strike back, also with help of ist proxies Hamas and Hisbollah. Therefore Iran published a map with targets in Israel, Lebanon and the West Bank.
“‚One wrong move‘: Tehran Times reveals Iran’s targets in Israel
A „rocket alert“ map displaying a list of targets Iran would strike including pins in Lebanese territory and on Palestinian cities.
Front page of Tehran Times showing missile threat against Israel (photo credit: Tehran Times)
An Iranian newspaper published a map on Wednesday threatening Israel with missile attacks. The map shows pins representing rocket alerts for dozens of potential targets, including Lebanese territory and Palestinian cities in the West Bank.
The map, published on the front page of the Tehran Times, was part of an article headlined “Just one wrong move!”
“An intensification of the Israeli military threats against Iran seems to suggest that the Zionist regime has forgotten that Iran is more than capable of hitting them from anywhere,” wrote the paper, adding it “doesn’t need to remind the illegitimate regime of Israel of Iran’s defense capabilities.”
The article ended with a 2013 quote by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei warning that Iran would “destroy Tel Aviv and Haifa” if Israel “makes a mistake” and conducts a military strike.
The threat comes as Israel and the US advance preparations for a military option should negotiations in Vienna to return to the JCPOA nuclear deal fail. A massive IDF drill mimicking a strike on Iran is reportedly planned for next year.(…)
But the Jerusalem Post also publishes voices which think that Netanjahu´s decision to push the USA to cancel the Iran deal was as disasterous as now a military strike against Iran would be:
“Israeli and Iranian failed strategies – opinion
The Israeli decision to push the US out of the agreement should be labeled as one of the worst strategic decisions ever made by an Israeli government.
By Gershon Baskin
Published: DECEMBER 15, 2021 21:44
Updated: DECEMBER 15, 2021 21:53
Former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action at the prodding and pushing of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be marked in history books as one of the greatest failures in the history of US presidential decision-making.
The Israeli decision
Rather than encouraging the US not to return to the JCPOA, the Israeli national defense establishment should be pleading with the US to complete the Vienna negotiations as fast as possible and to return to the original agreement.
After that agreement is reinstated and inspections are carried out to bring Iran back into full compliance, the US leadership, together with the EU partners and Russia and China should set on course a plan to bring Iran into the fold of the international community that would include agreements on limitations on ballistic missiles and on decreasing military support for regime militias in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and any other place.
The Iranian people are quite aware of the costs they are paying because of the policies of the ayatollahs. The economic opportunities laid at the doorstep of an Iran that is in full compliance with the JCPOA would help to encourage democratic movements within Iran to overcome the extremists and hopefully assist in leading Iran out of the dark age of the revolution that began in 1979.
It is believed by many Iran experts that a majority of Iranians do not support the regime. One of the things that has kept the regime in power all of these years is the opposition in the West (mainly by the US and Israel) to the regime and the tactics that have been employed against the regime. There is a kind of reverse effect of unintended consequences in which the harder Iran gets hit by the US and by Israel, the stronger the regime becomes.
It is time to develop a clear and coherent regional approach to Iran. Israel shares interests with Saudi Arabic, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and maybe even Turkey in limiting Iran’s influence in the region. In the days before the visit of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to Abu Dhabi, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed hosted visits from the Saudis, the Syrians, the Turks and even the Iranians. Israel’s new best friends in the Gulf are perhaps the key element in developing a new policy vis-à-vis Iran.
This new policy is not based on mutual military threat, nor on capitulation but rather engagement and diplomacy. Of course, this policy is linked to Iran and the US returning to a renewed JCPOA. Israel has little to gain by continuing its dangerous threats of escalation and military attacks.
It is not only the billions of shekels that the Israeli army is going to waste in developing a military strike plan that should never take place. The risks to world security are too high and the dangers to the peoples of the entire Middle East are too vast to allow the insanity of even considering an Israeli military strike against Iran.
Rather than Israeli leaders lecturing the world about the dangers of a nuclear Iran (which are real), the leaders of the West and of our neighborhood should be lecturing the Israelis and Iranians to climb down the ladders of belligerency which may, God forbid, actually lead to the most costly and dangerous Middle East wars.
Another author sees the US-Israeli- Iranian conflict also under the perspective of the sino- American conflict and the axis between China and Iran and hypes a West Asian Quad which shall complement the Quad and the AUKUS and consist of the USA, India an, Isreal and the UAE-an alliance that should cover the Middle East and the larger Indo-Mediterranean as the Quad consisting of the USA, India, Japan and Australia besides AUKUS is protecting the Indo-Pacific:
“The real test for China and Iran – opinion
The West Asian Quad of the US, India, Israel and the UAE is the security blanket that Israel needs against Iranian aggression. Even the hawks in Tehran will not support all-out conflict.
By VAS SHENOY
Published: DECEMBER 15, 2021 21:30
The original Quad, formed by the United States, India, Australia and Japan has been at the center of the White House’s strategy to counter the growing Chinese aggression and influence in the Indo-Pacific.
The new Quad (now known as the West Asian Quad), which brings together the US and India with Israel and the United Arab Emirates, will be the grouping to watch out for in the coming months. This grouping will be key to the security of the Middle East and the larger Indo-Mediterranean.
The Abraham Accords and the start of a new era
The Abraham Accords were a surprise to the global geopolitical framework when they were conceived and signed between Israel and the UAE at the peak of the pandemic in August 2020. Today the players have changed. Neither is Donald Trump the president of the US nor is Benjamin Netanyahu the prime minister of Israel. Despite these changes not only has the relationship between the UAE and Israel strengthened, it has quickly evolved to create a mini-grouping with two strong mutual allies, the US and India.
Both Israel and the UAE have historic ties with India. India’s links with the Jewish community in the Middle East is well documented as are Jewish communities in India. Despite India officially supporting the Palestinian position since Israeli independence, recognition and informal cooperation between the countries date back to the 1953.
Since full diplomatic relations were established in 1991, Israel is now the second largest defense supplier to India after Russia. There is probably no other country that has a closer security cooperation with the Indian security establishment than Israel. Both countries are victims and poster targets of Islamic extremism, and the November 26, 2008 attacks on Mumbai made both countries develop a strong strategic bond.
The emirates that constitute the UAE have ancient links with India, even using the Indian rupee as their currency until the mid-20th century. Today around 38% of the UAE’s population is estimated to be from India.
Both Israel and the UAE consider the US as their first and foremost ally. It would be a natural alliance for a new grouping to arise, between these four countries, which are not only bound together by history but by rapid change in the global geopolitical scenario where their interests are common, while their enemies unite.
The Iran question
Iran is probably the single most important question for the West Asian Quad and possibly for global security. The Biden team has done its best to try and undo the damage to Obama’s legacy of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action by the Trump administration. Iran was arguably the US’s and Israel’s closest ally in the Persian Gulf before the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
Since the revolution, the US and Israel have been considered the greatest enemies by the new Islamic Republic. Today, the theocracy’s hate of the US and Israel is led by a grouping of aging revolutionaries who are themselves well into their 70s and have repeatedly pushed the country into economic and political isolation due to their anti-US and anti-Israel rhetoric. Iran also has the largest standing global network of narco-Islamic terrorists, which spans from Venezuela to Afghanistan, in its efforts to maintain Shi’ite dominance against Sunni regimes.
Hezbollah and the Houthis are among several militia that Iran has inspired and supported and tries to control and influence. The changing global geopolitical, social and economic scenario is however beyond the control of the Iranian theocracy, which seems to be grasping at straws while trying to force a nuclear program it can ill afford and which is frankly useless in the modern, post-Cold War global order, even as a deterrent.
Iran’s role in the Shi’ite-Sunni conflict is older than its ideological conflict with the US and Israel and traces back to the Islamization of the Persian Empire. The UAE and Iran share sea borders in the Persian Gulf, and the UAE is an ancient pathway for Iranian trade in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. It is also the home of a significant Iranian population, which is an important part of the UAE’s economic fabric.
Tensions between the UAE and Iran have escalated over the past years, even though in the past few months the UAE has tried to mend diplomatic fences, trying also to withdraw its engagements in global conflicts from Libya to Yemen, where it has regularly countered Iranian proxies. However the UAE’s closeness to the US and now to Israel continue to create tensions between the maritime neighbors who control the Persian Gulf.
In the center of all these disagreements and conflicts, Iran has created criminal monsters such as Hezbollah, which it can neither fully control nor destroy. In its need for infrastructure and cash to keep its weakening economy afloat it is following Pakistan’s example and is on its way to a strong dependence on China. This final desperate choice will also eventually cost it a historical ally, India.
India has just started to publicly mention its security issues with Iran. Not only has Iran’s supreme ayatollah started mentioning Kashmir at key points during India’s alliance with Israel, recent attacks on Indian soil against Israeli diplomats exposed a larger network of Iranian terror on Indian territory.
This millennial relationship is being sacrificed in Tehran’s desperation to keep its proxies prospering, from Hamas to the Assad regime in Syria, while it is barely able to feed its own population. Iran’s primary ally, Russia, battles to keep its position with India as its largest defense supplier, and despite Iran’s increasing closeness to China and Pakistan, the Indian government has tried its best to maintain a cordial relationship with Iran with two visits by Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s foreign minister, to Tehran in 2021.
Despite all these challenges, all members of the West Asian Quad seem to be aware that the time for a US-led peace deal with Iran on the Obama model is over, and any deal must include Israel. Neither the UAE nor India wants to be in a situation to choose sides between Iran and Israel and the US, so both allies will do their best to walk the diplomatic tightrope and try and keep Tehran from pushing for an open conflict.
India will also hope to keep Tehran out of China’s sphere as Iran and India share security concerns with Russia on Afghanistan and the Taliban. Most importantly, India controls the Chabahar Port in Iran, which is a key non-land transport route to Afghanistan and Central Asia, Iran’s only oceanic port, which is just 170 km. west of Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, controlled by China.
The Chinese dragon
The US and India remain deeply concerned about China’s growing influence in allied countries. The UAE, which had a thriving relationship with China, has for now, seemingly hit the pause button. A key strategic military base being developed by China in Abu Dhabi, has been shelved for the time being under US pressure. Israel, which has used China in the past to develop infrastructure and has a thriving technological relationship with Beijing has now become cautious of China’s investments into Israeli technology companies. Israel is also the main provider of cybersecurity technology, often deployed against Chinese, Russian and Iranian cyberattacks by all the allies.
The Israel security establishment is now using the sale of Spacecom, a key strategic satellite company, to a Hungarian communications corporation with ties to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, to create grounds for a golden veto.
“A security source told Haaretz that following the sale of various strategic assets to China, such as Haifa Port, desalination facilities, food companies and light rail works, the defense establishment has decided to change its policy and not allow a foreign entity to acquire more than 20% of an Israeli company defined as strategically important.” (Haaretz, December 5)
China’s growing influence and alliance with Iran and Pakistan, both of which have a very strong anti-Israel and anti-US bias, only helps hasten Israel’s distancing from China.
A new beginning
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett recently visited the UAE, cementing a bond with the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. MBZ, as the crown prince is widely known, is an enlightened monarch who is a pragmatic and realistic ruler. While he recalibrates the UAE’s role in fluid global geopolitics, he is focused on bringing the West Asian Quad closer to ensure the UAE’s political and economic centrality.
Next, Bennett will probably visit India early in the new year to cement another relationship that was developed by his predecessor, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Bennett will need the support of both the Indian and UAE leaders if he is to successfully make his case to the White House, which is desperate for a deal with Iran.
MBZ and Modi will need Bennett to air their concerns to President Joe Biden so that publicly they do not disturb their status quo with Iran. The West Asian Quad is the security blanket that Israel needs against Iranian aggression. Even the hawks in Tehran will not support all-out conflict that drags India and the UAE against Iran.
Unlike the naval Quad, the West Asian Quad is central to global security and intelligence with its influence and interest that extends from Africa to Asia. Where NATO and Europe fall into this puzzle and what role they will have, if any, is still to be seen. Meanwhile, we all wait with bated breath to see what a post-Merkel era in Germany and Europe will bring.
However, the question arises, if the USA are trusting the UAE so much and vice versa as the UAE and the USA are hesitating to make their F 35 deal. And the end-use clause doesn´t seem to be the only hindrance.
“Would the UAE really walk away from prestigious F-35 deal? – analysis
The UAE wants the F-35s but not at a cost that would mean it can’t use them as it wants
Published: DECEMBER 15, 2021 10:45
Updated: DECEMBER 15, 2021 19:32
The United Arab Emirates is prepared to halt acquisition of advanced fifth-generation F-35 aircraft, according to reports published this week in The Wall Street Journal.
The prestigious and important deal was announced last year around the time of the Abraham Accords, raising eyebrows in the Middle East and Washington.
In late September 2020, the UAE submitted a formal request to purchase 50 of the aircraft. The deal would include 18 Reaper drones as well.
The US has often prevented sales of its advanced armed drones abroad, leading many countries to acquire Chinese and other drones instead.
It appeared the UAE acquisition would move forward quickly with White House approvals in October 2020, and other approvals from the State Department in November, fast-tracking the decision. However, there was grumbling and criticism of the deal.(…)
There are other advanced US aircraft, like F-15s and F-16s, but they, too, are not replacement options for the F-35 for countries like the UAE. According to recent data, there are more than 705 F-35s around the world today, flown by nine countries operating from 21 bases worldwide.
Users include the US, UK, Israel, Italy, Australia, Norway, Japan, South Korea, and the Netherlands. Singapore, Belgium and Poland have also procured the aircraft. Singapore has only purchased four of the planes.
The UAE might consider a scaled-down deal so as to be knitted into the strategic US program, but not lean so heavily on an aircraft that presents it with technical and end-user concerns. So far that doesn’t seem to be in the cards.