Weekend long read

1) At the INSS Ephraim Kam discusses the implications of ‘Lifting the Embargo on Arms Sales to Iran’.

“The embargo imposed by the UN Security Council on the sale of weapons to Iran will expire on October 18, 2020. At that time, Iran will be permitted to purchase the weapon systems that it sought unsuccessfully to obtain in the past. Iran will likely prefer to buy weapons mainly from Russia, which since the 1990s has been its principal arms supplier, and its shopping list will probably include the Sukhoi S-30 aircraft and the S-400 advanced air defense systems. However, over the last two decades, even before the embargo was imposed, there were only a few large arms deals between Iran and Russia – primarily due to Iran’s economic difficulties. Since Iran’s financial situation has continued to decline in recent years, and the US administration could well impose sanctions on suppliers of weapons to Iran, Tehran’s options for arms purchases might be limited.”

2) Also at the INSS, Orna Mizrahi asks ‘Is a Strategic Change in Lebanon-Israel Relations Possible at the Present Time?’.

“The start of negotiations between Israel and Lebanon on marking the maritime border is a milestone in the history of the relations between the two countries. It invites the question whether agreement on this issue might bring about a strategic change in relations between Israel and Lebanon, following the Abraham Accords and given the dire situation in Lebanon, which desperately needs external aid from the United States and other Western countries. An analysis of the internal balance of power in Lebanon, however, suggests that the prospects for such a change are at best slim at the present time, especially as long as Hezbollah maintains its special status as an independent military power in Lebanon and wields decisive influence in decision-making processes.”

3) The ITIC takes a look at ‘Bahrain as an Arena for Iran Subversion and Terrorism’.

“Iran has been a permanent threat to the stability of the Bahraini regime since the country declared independence. Iran’s fundamental antagonism is based on a combination of geopolitics, history and the Iranian regime’s regional interests: Bahrain is located in the heart of the Persian Gulf, where Iran seeks hegemony; the American army’s largest naval base in the Persian Gulf is in Manama, the capital of Bahrain (where the Fifth Fleet is anchored); and Bahrain’s internal politics are based on a Sunni minority ruling a Shi’ite majority which mostly has an Iranian orientation. Moreover, Iran has historically aspired to annex Bahrain, claiming Bahrain is its “14th province,” and claiming to have `historical references.”

4) Arab News carries a feature on ‘The Jews of Lebanon’ by Ephrem Kossaify and Nagi Zeidan.

“In 2014, when the Magen Abraham Synagogue reopened in Beirut, Lebanese politicians from across the spectrum were present, bathed in the glare of TV cameras. They all reiterated their support for a community they said they cherished as much as the other 17 sects that make up the Lebanese government. 

Former prime minister Fouad Siniora declared: “We respect Judaism. Our only problem is with Israel.” 

Even Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah weighed in: “This is a religious place of worship and its restoration is welcome.” 

On the outside, it looked as if the stage was set for the return of the Jewish community into Lebanon’s public life. The renovation of the Magen Abraham was nothing short of an open door for Lebanese Jews to come back. But the pomp of the opening ceremony did nothing to halt the decline of this community. 

In the 1950s and 1960s there were 16 synagogues in Lebanon, and they were always full. The only place in the Arab world where the number of Jews increased after 1948 was Lebanon. But the 1967 war and the gruesome civil war that followed gradually drove Lebanese Jews away.  

Today, there are 29 Jews left in Lebanon.”

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