Israeli tensions in May! - ABDULLAH MURADOĞLU

Israeli tensions in May!

With CIA president Mike Pompeo becoming Secretary of State, the “hawk wing” in U.S. President Donald Trump’s internal cabinet gained strength. National Security Adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Halley are considered as being the same team in this internal cabinet. In opposition to the team is Secretary of Defense James Mattis and White House Secretary-General Gen. John Kelly. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former National Security Adviser Gen. McMaster and former National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn were also in this group, which is believed to have undertaken the “mission of restraining Trump.” After these three left, Mattis and Kelly are the only ones remaining. Kelly, who is rumored to leave soon is said to fill the position of secretary of veteran affairs vacated by David Shulkin. Trump had suggested his doctor at the White House, Admiral Ronny Jackson for this position. Jackson, whose approval from the Senate was in danger due to the accusations about him, withdrew his candidature. If Kelly becomes minister, Gen. Mattis will be left alone in Trump’s internal cabinet.

After Bolton took office, the top three figures in the National Security Council, Michael Anton, Ricky Waddell and Nadia Schadlow had resigned. It was also no secret that Bolton wanted to get rid of National Security Council Secretary-General Keith Kellogg. After U.S. Vice President Mike Pence appointed Kellogg as his own National Security Adviser, the problem was solved.

One of the organizations that lobbied for the approval of Pompeo’s secretaryship in the Senate was the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). Pompeo’s first congratulations messages also came from the ZOA and the American Jewish Committee (AJC). In an American Thinker article titled “Mike Pompeo’s confirmation battle,” pro-Trump writer Robert Vincent was saying, “Pompeo will be the most pro-Israel secretary of state in history.” This article is important in terms of seeing how pro-Israel Trumpists see Pompeo.

The ZOA had carried out a campaign for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s and National Security Council Adviser McMaster’s dismissal. After Tillerson left, the term “occupied territory” used in the Department of State’s annual Human Rights Report in reference to the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza were removed. The U.S.’s Israel Ambassador – and Trump’s former lawyer – David Friedman had requested the department to remove this term. Friedman, who is known for his affinity to the ZOA, is known to have a fallout with Tillerson regarding this matter. Tillerson was also accused of slowing down the process of moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

Changing the term in the Department of State’s 2017 Annual Report after Tillerson left pleased the ZOA. However, the ZOA is also objecting to the terms “West Bank,” East Jerusalem” and “Israeli Settlements” in the report. The ZOA, which wants to replace West Bank with “Judea-Samaria” cannot even tolerate the phrase, “Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.”

The U.S. embassy is moving to Jerusalem on May 14. We need to draw attention to the date of the opening ceremony coinciding with Israel’s date of foundation. The future of the “Iran Nuclear Deal” is going to be clear on May 12. If there are no surprise developments, Trump is going to withdraw from the deal. According to former Israeli Military Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin, the tension in the region is reminiscent of the pre-1967 war atmosphere. Russia’s declarations saying that it may supply Damascus with S-300 missiles following the U.S.’s air raids on Syria badly disturbed Israel. CENTCOM Commander Gen. Joseph Vogel, who recently paid a sudden visit to Israel, said that they will not withdraw the U.S. troops from Syria anytime soon. Trump also said that even if the deal is off, they will not allow Iran to produce nuclear weapons. Hence, whether Trump will go to Jerusalem on May 14 seems to depend on the future of the nuclear deal. When considered together with all these developments, a dangerous tension awaits the region in May.

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