Israeli FM: Collaborating with radical Islamists is “perilous thinking”

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman for the Jerusalem Post, “You can’t invite an arsonist to help put out a fire,” November 13, 2014:

The first step to mobilizing moderate forces in the Middle East in an effective coalition against the violent fanaticism of the region’s terrorist groups and their state backers.

Khamenei twitterExperience shows that employing one group of radicals as a counter-balance against another is ill-advised. This has been the hard-learned lesson in numerous arenas around the world, whether in the Middle East or elsewhere. The Soviet period in Afghanistan and its aftermath comes to mind as a case in point.

Radical Islamist forces and their state sponsors may collaborate with Western powers in the very short term in order to confront their rivals. But ultimately they will not veer away from their aggressive agenda which pits them irrevocably against the West and everything it stands for. To hope otherwise is wishful – and perilous – thinking.

Iran, in particular, exemplifies what happens when a fanatic ideology is adopted by the machinery of state.

The implications are felt by Israel of course, as well as by the many moderate elements in the region that fear Iran’s hegemonic ambitions and bear the brunt of the regional insurrection which it fosters.

The leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a few days ago once again called for Israel’s elimination, writing that Israel “has no cure but to be annihilated.” This latest outburst, just ahead of the November 24 deadline for the talks on Tehran’s nuclear program, is a clear signal of Iran’s sinister intent with regard to Israel.

The Iranian leader’s statement was issued against a backdrop of open indications that his regime is continuing with the military dimensions of its nuclear program, in defiance of its agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Western powers.

Echoing statements made by IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano in recent weeks, the agency’s latest report, released several days ago, underscored that it “remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of nuclear payload for a missile.”

Such careful language communicates the rapid development of nuclear weapons technology which continues apace in Iran, in parallel with its stalling tactics at the negotiating table.

Even as it continues with its race for nuclear weapons, Iran persists in stirring up regional unrest by training and financing terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas and by backing violent Shi’ite factions, for instance in Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen. Moderate Arab regimes understand only too well the threat posed to them by these Iranian proxies and by Iran’s regional ambitions in general.

Thus, Iran cannot be usefully enlisted to assist in the fight against Islamic State, just as Iran’s ally the Assad regime cannot be helpful in curbing the advance of Islamic State, Jabhat a-Nusra, al-Qaida or the many other terrorist entities running rampant throughout the region. Similarly, the Muslim Brotherhood cannot serve as a partner in the fostering of democracy and human rights. States and organizations that themselves train, finance and equip terrorist groups and that foster regional instability cannot be expected to serve as reliable partners in defeating radicalism.

The first step to mobilizing moderate forces in the Middle East in an effective coalition against the violent fanaticism of the region’s terrorist groups and their state backers is to realize that there is no artificial distinction between “good” radicals and “bad” radicals…

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