On Sunday, the CUFI Washington Summit kicks off. Over the next few days, more than 1,000 pro-Israel activists from across the country will hear from top leaders, including former Vice President Mike Pence, former Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Summit attendees will also hear from several Members of Congress and Middle East experts. But until then, we wanted to share a number of policy items that caught our eye and may very well directly impact our Washington efforts next week.

Hezbollah and the LAF at it Again

Longtime readers of the Action Update will recall that several years ago we sought to end U.S. support for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) because key elements of the Lebanese army are acting as an auxiliary force to the Iran-backed terrorist army Hezbollah. Unfortunately, due to intense resistance from entrenched powers at the Department of Defense, the money (which is your money, by the way) is still flowing to the LAF.

Fast forward to last week when we saw Hezbollah terrorists and Lebanese soldiers make their way into Israeli territory near a Kibbutz directly adjacent to the Lebanese border. IDF troops were in the area doing routine maintenance. Nonetheless, Israel, always seeking to exhaust peaceful options before engaging militarily, asked the UN peacekeeping mission focused on the Lebanese border to address the enemy force that had crossed into sovereign Israeli territory. Twenty minutes after standing around inside Israeli territory, the band of brigands retreated into Lebanon.

Taken together, this incursion coupled with Hezbollah’s recent attempt at setting up a small encampment – as we discussed late week – just inside the Israeli border indicate that Iran is increasingly looking for weaknesses in Israel’s line of defense – both literally and figuratively.  For now, the Israelis have wisely decided not to take the bait. But that doesn’t mean Iran and its allies won’t try next week to engage in some other provocation in the hopes of drawing Israel into direct armed conflict.

Why Does (A little) War Benefit Iran?

Obviously, Iran generally (albeit theoretically) relishes the prospect of war with Israel. This might seem irrational as Hezbollah has lost every battlefield engagement with the Jewish state, yet they are clearly hankering for more. So… why? Because Tehran would prefer the world focus on a skirmish along Israel’s border with Lebanon rather than Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

In fact, just this week Fox News and others reported that recently released European intelligence reports “reveal that the Islamic Republic of Iran sought to bypass U.S. and EU sanctions to secure technology for its nuclear weapons program with a view toward testing an atomic bomb.”

The most concerning revelation in the intelligence reports involves the rapid advancement of Iran’s nuclear enrichment efforts. According to the Dutch intelligence report, Iran “continues to increase stocks of 20% and 60% enriched uranium. By means of centrifuges, this can be used for further enrichment to the 90% enriched uranium needed for a nuclear weapon.” The Dutch report goes on to conclude that the present situation “brings the option of a possible [Iranian] first nuclear test closer.”

From the Russian invasion of Ukraine (which Iran is involved in via its weapons deliveries to the Kremlin), to a potential skirmish with Israel, the more chaos in the world, the better it is for Iran (and, from Tehran’s perspective, if that chaos includes conflict with the Jewish state, all the better).


What To Do….

So, how should the U.S. and Israel, whose shared values compel efforts to avoid bloodshed, but whose national security requirements demand we prepare for conflict (in order to minimize the likelihood of it taking place) react? Well, in our view they should hold a joint military exercise focusing on attacking Iran.

And, as it turns out, we are not alone in this view, as on Sunday American and Israeli pilots did exactly that: holding a joint air exercise that simulated attacking “strategic targets in the depth,” inside the Islamic Republic.

We, of course, welcome the decision to engage in this joint exercise, but we understand if it feels a bit like whiplash. Yes, the same administration that has seemed almost fixated on weakening our position vis-à-vis Iran, and whose Special Envoy to the Islamic Republic, Robert Malley, has had his security clearance suspended and is being investigated for mishandling classified information, made the right call and held a welcome drill with the Israeli Defense Forces.

Is there a serious and impactful divide inside the Biden administration concerning how to contend with Iran’s ever-progressing nuclear program? If so, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time something like this has taken place. But the debate doesn’t end within the executive branch.

Congress, and therefore CUFI, have a role to play here. Congress must demand greater transparency when it comes to the Administration’s actions and plans concerning Iran. And we are grateful to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mike McCaul for demanding answers on what on earth is going on with Mr. Malley.

This said, as much faith as we have (and it’s a lot) in Chairman McCaul, we should not be surprised if the Administration tries to obscure the facts, stonewall, etc. That too would certainly not be the first time something like that has happened.

For example, Congress – which knows full well that large swaths of the LAF are allied with Hezbollah - demanded a report from the Defense Department on this topic several years ago. Likewise, Congress will likely be demanding another report this year via an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act., And yet, the policy has not changed.

In time, once the investigation into his actions is concluded, we’ll get answers on Malley. Only then will we know if and what kind of damage this individual, whose appointment to his current position CUFI adamantly opposed, may have done to American, Israeli, European, and moderate Arabian national security interests.

All of this and much more will be discussed at the forthcoming CUFI Washington Summit. If you’re able to join us, we look forward to seeing you, and if not, next week’s Action Update will delve into the full Summit legislative agenda.


The CUFI Action Fund Team


Email Marketing by ActiveCampaign