Matthew Levitt

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A Palestinian man watching Israeli strikes in eastern Rafah, Gaza Strip, May 2024. Hatem Khaled / Reuters

On May 6, in an effort to forestall an all-but-certain Israeli operation in Rafah, Hamas leaders said that they might be prepared to accept a hostage-for-prisoners agreement with Israel. Coming after weeks of stonewalling by Hamas, the announcement raised hopes in Washington that some kind of deal might still be reached that could free dozens of hostages and bring about a pause in Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip. But even now, it remained unclear how committed Hamas was to carrying out this deal, or whether it was simply seeking a means to preserve its Rafah stronghold, where Israel believes its remaining brigades and Gaza-based leadership are holed up.…  Seguir leyendo »

Quirky though it was, U.S. officials are convinced that the recently exposed plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to Washington was the work of the vaunted Quds Force, the special operations branch of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC). As policymakers consider how best to respond to Iran’s increasingly dangerous behavior they should look first to our own back yard south of the border.

To be sure, this plot demands a response. Pointing to the 1983 and 1984 Beirut bombings, the CIA reported in 1987 that “many Iranian leaders use this precedent as proof that terrorism can break U.S. resolve” and view “sabotage and terrorism as an important option in its confrontation with the United States in the Persian Gulf.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Standing with the leaders of France and Great Britain at the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh on Friday, Barack Obama disclosed Iran's construction of yet another secret nuclear structure: a uranium enrichment facility near the holy city of Qom. How much hope should western powers have for the upcoming diplomatic negotiations when the regime in Tehran continues to pursue a secret nuclear programme beyond the reach of international inspectors?

The answer, based on Iran's record of deception, is little to none. Describing the Iranian nuclear programme as "the most urgent proliferation challenge that the world faces today," Gordon Brown noted that Iran has accumulated a record of "serial deception".…  Seguir leyendo »