US President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence (L) and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster at the White House in Washington, US, July 18, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
There were jokes on social media about how having an Orthodox Jewish daughter and son-in-law had influenced US President Donald Trump to clean out his cabinet before Passover.
But the recent departures of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster are good news for the world’s two most important international initiatives that go hand in hand: Stopping the nuclearization of Iran and the terrorism emanating from the Islamic Republic.
Tillerson regularly deemed Iran as complying with the 2015 landmark Iran nuclear deal, though not with its “spirit.” He had urged Trump to maintain the agreement, in order to preserve American leverage over the development of Iranian ballistic missiles and other key issues.
McMaster was known for advising the president not to shun multilateral cooperation. He was also in favor of finding ways to keep the Iran deal.
Trump singled out Tillerson’s inability to see eye to eye with him on Iran as the primary reason for his firing. From now on, only the Iran policies Trump believes in will be advanced by his administration.
That means the deal will have to either be “fixed or nixed,” as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the United Nations General Assembly in September. Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, who is close to Netanyahu, told The Jerusalem Post that if the deal is properly fixed, it could even be extended to ensure its sunset clauses remain far in the distance.
The Tillerson and McMaster firings sent a key message to Europe that America is serious about the need for dramatic steps. Immediately after Trump fired McMaster on Twitter, the three European signatories to the deal – Britain, France and Germany – agreed to new EU sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program and punishing Iran for its involvement in Syrian civil war.
Netanyahu told German and French foreign ministers that he thinks Trump will pull out of the deal. But there is new hope that an agreement on sanctions and increased inspections of Iranian nuclear sites that can be acceptable to Israel can be reached by the May 12 deadline set by the Trump administration.
The Trump administration is finally succeeding in fixing the greatest mistake of President Barack Obama that could still lead to Iran being able to cast a nuclear shadow over the Middle East and the entire world.
In his quest to reach what became the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Obama turned a blind eye to Iranian aggression in Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.
He did not make it a priority to stop the spread of Iranian-backed terrorism perpetrated by Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Gaza Strip and throughout the world.
Now, the clear message from the White House is there is no longer any tolerance for terrorism and that the entire international community must get its act together, because the war on terror is moving forward full speed ahead.
That means targeting Iran, the world’s primary sponsor of terrorism, whose surrogates cause chaos throughout the Middle East.
Incoming secretary of state Mike Pompeo recognizes the dangers of radical Islamic terrorism and is unafraid to speak those words, unlike Obama and the secretaries of state who worked under him.
Incoming US national security adviser John Bolton has urged for both American and Israeli military action against Iran.
To that end, they will work closely with Netanyahu, whom Tillerson did not visit when he came to the Middle East, and with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, who just had a successful trip to Washington.
The prince is the key to stopping terrorism emanating from Iran and preventing its nuclearization.
He has accused Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of being the “new Hitler” of the Middle East, because Khamenei wants to expand Iranian rule over neighboring countries. But Muhammad’s own desire for a nuclear capability and his warnings that if Iran develops a nuclear weapon, Saudi Arabia will follow suit shortly thereafter, have been very unhelpful.
How can a volatile Middle East be unified against Iran when Saudi Arabia’s own motives will be questioned? This is especially problematic when Saudi leadership in the efforts against Iran is so crucial.
It will now be up to Pompeo and Bolton to keep Prince Muhammad in line and influence President Trump to make the right decisions on Iran.
The Passover Haggada states that in every generation, the Jewish people has had enemies who have attempted to destroy it, but God intervened and saved it.
Perhaps in retrospect, this changing of the guard in the Trump cabinet will be remembered as a key instrument in God’s saving Israel from nuclear annihilation and the world from the spread of terrorism.Martin Oliner is the co-president of the Religious Zionists of America and chairman of the Center for Righteousness and Integrity. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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