September 23, 2019

March 14, 2012

Shalom, Beijing

Writing in Foreign Policy, Oren Kessler looks at two decades of ties between Israel and China, and how the latter’s link to Iran could impact on that relationship.

As they mark 20 years of diplomatic relations, China and Israel are exchanging far more than florid praise. Bilateral trade stands at almost $10 billion, a 200-fold rise in two decades. China is Israel’s third-largest export market, buying everything from telecommunications and information technology to agricultural hardware, solar energy equipment, and pharmaceuticals.

To Retaliate or Not: Hizballah’s Calculus Following a Strike on Iran

The Lebanese militant organization has considerations other than allegiance to Iran, even in the face of an Israeli attack on Iran, writes David Schenker of the Washington Institute.

Over the past three decades, Hizballah has acquired significant material assets in Lebanon, including a massive arsenal and miles of sophisticated underground tunnel and bunker systems. These assets could be depleted or destroyed if the group opened a new conflict with Israel. In its thirty-four-day war against Israel in 2006—which the group sparked in July by launching a cross-border kidnapping operation—Hizballah used and lost much of its arsenal and infrastructure, requiring years of rebuilding. Although the militia clearly took pride in its 2006 performance, famously describing it as a “divine victory,” Nasrallah also expressed regret at the escalation.

Iran’s War in Gaza

The recent rocket barrages from Gaza into Israel were not instigated by traditional arch-foe Hamas, writes Jonathan Schanzer in Foreign Policy, rather they were the work of Iran’s proxies seeking to punish Hamas for its desertion of Syria.

Numerous reports now indicate that Hamas is drifting from the Iran-Syria axis. While Hamas has not ruptured its relations with Tehran in the same manner that it abandoned Damascus, Iranian leaders are clearly irked that the Palestinian faction has refused to stand by Assad, a key strategic figure for Tehran in the region. Whereas Iran once respected Hamas’s wishes and helped maintain a modicum of calm inside Gaza, the gloves are now off.

The everyday brutality that is Assad’s Syria

On the first anniversary of the uprising against Assad, Nahlah Ayed of CBC News hears the testimony of victims of torture at the hands of the regime.

“They beat you until you faint, until the flesh of your feet (is) showing. So that is the start. After that, every day, every day you have torture, morning, noon and evening and at night with different ways.” For decades, such stories dissuaded all but the most single-minded opponents from speaking out against the regime. Mohammed says that Syrians were constantly “afraid that they might get into trouble and face the same detention and torture, which is inhuman.”