Top general steps down after IDF computer stolen from home
The head of the Israel Defense Force’s Manpower Directorate announced he would step down from his post Wednesday, a day after a laptop containing classified information was stolen from his home in southern Israel, the army said.
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot accepted the resignation of Maj. Gen. Hagai Topolanski “with a heavy heart,” according to a statement.
Before dawn on Tuesday, the home of Topolanski, was broken into and a number of items were stolen, including the army computer, the IDF spokesperson said.
Topolanski was called in for questioning by the military police on Wednesday and shortly afterward submitted his resignation to Eisenkot.
“Topolanski told the chief of staff that throughout his life he had been taught to take responsibility, as he has demanded from his subordinates,” the army said.
Brig. Gen. Meirav Kirshner chief of staff of the Manpower Directorate, will take over his position “until a permanent replacement is decided upon,” the army said.
“[Topolanski] is a valued, virtuous officer, a fighter pilot who devoted his entire life to the security of the State of Israel,” the IDF said in a statement.
Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon lamented Topolanski’s resignation, but applauded the general for doing the right thing.
“Hagai has proven what it means to take responsibility, what it means to set a personal example, even when the personal cost is high. For that he deserves great admiration,” Ya’alon wrote on Twitter.
After the break-in at this house in Be’er Tuvia, in southern Israel, on Tuesday, the Israel Police and the IDF’s military police launched an investigation to find the stolen computer.
Police and army have no given any indication that the computer has been recovered, and no arrests have been announced.
It was not clear what exactly was on the stolen computer, if it included top-secret information or simply contained classified army programs.
Depending on what information was present on the computer, Topolanski could face legal action.
According to the news site Ynet, Topolanski’s home was one of five in Be’er Tuvia broken into early Tuesday, with computers, cell phones and money stolen from other houses.
Details of the case were kept under a gag order until Wednesday.
To prevent leaks of classified information, the army forbids officers from leaving army laptops and computers unprotected, requiring them to be kept in a safe when taken off-base. The army metes out severe punishments to officers who allow military computers or other sensitive equipment to be stolen on their watch.
Last year, Col. Ilan Levy was summarily dismissed from his position after classified documents were stolen from his car, where he accidentally left them. The stolen documents were smuggled into the West Bank, where they were later recovered by the Shin Bet.
In October, a lieutenant colonel in the air force was suspended for two weeks after an army computer was stolen from his house.
And earlier this year, the head of Israel’s missile defense program, Yair Ramati, was dismissed from his post amid allegations that he too had improperly maintained state secrets.
A fighter pilot, Topolanski, 51, was named head of the IDF’s Manpower Directorate in September 2014.
He had previously served as second-in-command of the Israeli Air Force and in a number of senior positions in the IAF.
It was not clear how much longer Topolanski would have remained in the army in any case, as he was passed over for what would have been his next logical position: head of the air force.
During his time as head of the Manpower Directorate, Topolanski oversaw a number of dramatic changes to the army’s human resources policies as part of a plan to streamline the army.
He was also responsible for a number of controversial measures within the army, including restructuring the unit of the IDF that determines “Jewish identity” and toughening the policies towards facial hair, which were perceived as taking power away from the military rabbinate. (the Times of Israel)
Dershowitz: ICC will go after Israel if settlement bill passes
If the Knesset passes the settlements regulation bill, the International Criminal Court will go after Israelis and the Obama administration will let an anti-settlement resolution through at the UN, Prof. Alan Dershowitz says.
Dershowitz made the statement at an event for the Matan Institute for Women’s Torah Studies in Ra’anana on Tuesday night.
There is an intense debate in Israel over whether passing the bill to retroactively legalize certain unauthorized outposts built on private Palestinian land in exchange for financially compensating the Palestinians is legal and whether it would bring consequences from the international community, such as provoking the ICC. The original text of the legislation covered the Amona outpost, which the High Court of Justice has ordered demolished by December 25, but the proposed law has since been amended to not cover outposts which the court has ordered must be taken down.
In January 2015, the ICC started a preliminary examination of alleged war crimes in connection with the 2014 Gaza war (Operation Protective Edge) and the settlement enterprise, but to date it has not decided whether to open a full criminal investigation, which top Israeli officials worry would have grave consequences.
After other wide-ranging remarks, Dershowitz signaled to the crowd that he was about to drop some political bombshells, saying, “The other thing which is going to get controversial, but you don’t bring me not to be controversial… I think that Israel has to take into account world opinion and let me give you a very specific instance.”
“If the Amona bill is passed, two things will happen: One, the International Criminal Court, which is now reluctant to take jurisdiction, will take jurisdiction. It will be a provocation,” he asserted.
Continuing, the famed jurist stated, “Second, if the Amona bill were to be passed in the next two weeks, the president of the United States would have no choice but to say I’m not going to veto the French Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements.”
Addressing the crowd directly, the professor said, “You cannot ignore that reality. You can disagree with it. And you should ignore the reality if it affects Israel’s security. But you cannot ignore that reality when it comes to political considerations around the settlements.
And that’s a tough message for me to give you, but I’m giving it to you from my heart.”
Dershowitz then continued to take issue with some of the premises of the settlements regulation bill, saying, “There is no justification under Israeli law for creating illegal settlements.
So that’s the first thing that should stop. Second of all, settlements on land owned by Palestinians should be stopped.
Third, it’s not enough to take land and give payment for that.
That doesn’t satisfy international law.”
Explaining his views on the settlements more generally, he said, “I really do think that although I support the continuation of the current settlement blocs and the keeping of the settlement blocs in any peace process and certainly those settlement blocs that are close to Jerusalem – nobody is giving up Ma’aleh Adumim and Gilo and Efrat and the Etzion Bloc – I do think it’s a mistake, and I think there are many Israelis, most Israelis and I think even some in the government think it’s a mistake, to start building extensively outside of the settlement blocs.” (Jerusalem Post)
Amona settler leaders expect forced evacuation early next week
Leaders of the illegal West Bank Amona outpost said Thursday that they now expect the settlement to be evacuated at the beginning of next week.
Spokesperson Avichai Boaron told reporters at the outpost that residents had originally expected the court-ordered evacuation to begin on Thursday morning, but this did not materialize.
“It seems like people in the right rooms [are] banging their heads trying to find a way to resolve this,” he said.
On Wednesday night, the residents of Amona rejected a government-backed deal that would have allowed them to receive a plot of land on the same hill as the current outpost, with the possibility of creating a long-term settlement there, in return for leaving their homes peacefully.
Following marathon talks that began on Tuesday morning, they voted against the plan by 59-20.
A Jewish youth preparing to resist the evacuation of Amona, an illegal settler outpost in the West Bank, on December 15, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
The settlers said the plan would in fact only relocate 12 of the approximately 40 families in the outpost to nearby plots considered available.
The other 28 families would potentially move to temporary housing in the nearby Ofra settlement as the state sought a long-term solution, a spokeswoman for the regional Binyamin council, Eliana Passentin, told AFP.
“The government doesn’t have to commit to anything” concerning resettling the Amona residents, Boaron said, “and it’s all dependent on complicated legal issues.” He said they want to go from their current homes directly to new ones.
“We’d waited two days to receive the deal and when we got it on Tuesday night, we were very upset,” he said.
“They put a gun to our heads and said if you don’t agree, we’ll kick you out,” he added.
In response, the Amona residents told the government they would accept being relocated once the promised homes had actually been built, but not before.
The government initially rejected the counteroffer outright, Army Radio reported.
Young Jewish settlers preparing to resist evacuation of the illegal West Bank outpost Amona, which is built on private Palestinian land. December 15, 2016. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Young Jewish settlers preparing to resist evacuation of the illegal West Bank outpost Amona, which is built on private Palestinian land. December 15, 2016. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
However, “proxies of the government,” not officials, have been in touch in a bid to continue trying to reach an agreement, according to Boaron. As of Thursday afternoon, these efforts were in vain.
Since the “no” vote, hundreds of protesters have been streaming into Amona and preparing to resist security forces efforts to evacuate the settlement.
During the press conference, a resident of the outpost told reporters that while some of the young children had trouble coping with the stress of the situations, the teenagers were “happy with our decision.”
“They really pushed us,” she said.
Teams of teenagers, under the direction of Bentzi Gopstein, head of the far-right organization Lehava, moved dumpsters to block roadways, prepared tires to burn in the streets and piled rocks next to the entrance of the settlement to create a barricade against evacuating forces.
The teens also prepared the outpost’s water towers to act as a sort of last stand, although their efforts were partially abandoned after a resident warned them that the tanks’ old, thin metal would not safely hold their weight and might collapse.
Protesters gather atop a water tower in Amona on December 15, 2016. (Judah Ari Gross/ Times of Israel)
Many feared the protests against the evacuation would turn violent.
Boaron and the settlement’s rabbi, Yair Frankel, said they were not planning an overly physical showdown with security forces, accusing the government of preparing to act violently against them by “dragging people out of their houses.”
However, he said, although they would “conduct a vigorous passive protest” and drag their feet on the way out, they were calling on all protesters to “respect the Israel Defense Forces, respect the police and respect the State of Israel.”
Boaron stressed that the fate of Amona was not only political and philosophical, but also deeply personal.
“We gave birth to our kids here and we built our homes here. We celebrated our birthdays and anniversaries here,” he said. “We’ve fought to stay at home, to stay in Amona.”
Amona is the largest of about 100 unauthorized outposts — erected without permission but generally tolerated by the government — that dot the West Bank.
In December 2014, after multiple appeals and delays, the court ordered that the outpost be evacuated within two years.
The deadline is December 25. (the Times of Israel)
Netanyahu to Iran: ‘Don’t threaten Israel, we’re a tiger not a rabbit’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conveyed a message to Iran on Wednesday, warning the Islamic Republic’s leaders: “Don’t threaten us, we are not a rabbit, we are a tiger. If you threaten us you endanger yourself.”
Netanyahu spoke after being asked during his visit to Kazakhstan by President Nursultan Nazarbayev if he wanted to send a message to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is scheduled to visit Kazakhstan next week.
Netanyahu added that if Iran changes its policy and attitude toward Israel, “we will change ours.”
When asked by his host if he sincerely believed that Iran means what it says, that it wants to destroy Israel, he answered, “Yes, I do believe it.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel will not exist 25 years from now. (Jerusalem Post)
Official Israeli delegation participate in Abu Dhabi conference
An Israeli delegation attended a conference in the Arab country of Abu Dhabi. The delegation’s participation was brought about through international diplomatic efforts.
The delegation from the State Comptroller and Ombudsman’s office was headed by the director of the office, Eli Marzel, and for the first time took part in a conference in the UAE country of Abu Dhabi. The conference was held at a congress of INTOSAI, The International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions.
This is the first time ever that an official Israeli delegation has participated in a conference taking place in an Arab country. Intensive diplomatic activity preceded the departure of the delegation, including efforts of the Foreign Ministry as well as international diplomatic efforts, in particular involving the Austrian Comptroller Dr. Margit Kraker.
Eli Marzel spoke before the congress and also conducted meetings with tens of representatives from comptroller’s offices around the world.
It was also arranged that, in the near future, Israel will host an international seminar on the subject of cooperation between comptroller’s offices around the world on issues of cyberdefense.
Last year, Israel opened a representative mission in Abu Dhabi, a move which was seen as a public expression of the covert relations which already exist between Israel and the UAE on many security-related and economic issues. (Arutz Sheva)
Heavy rain and snow greet Israelis
A strong downpour of rain and snow drenched Israelis yesterday, especially in the North, and flooded roads on Tuesday night and Wednesday.
According to the Water Authority, about 100 millimeters of rain fell in the North, and Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) rose 5 cm. since Tuesday morning. The water level has risen 12 cm. over the past two weeks and stands at 213.71 meters. It is still 4.91 meters below being full.
The Water Authority said high flow rates of northern rivers contributed to the Galilee’s rise.
“Unlike the previous storm that hit us after two completely dry months, the rain was met with highly saturated soil, and thus the streams had high flow rates that contributed help for the water sector,” the authority said in a statement.
Snow continued to fall on Mount Hermon on Wednesday, while winds gusted at 80 mph leading to the closure of the access road to the mountain’s ski slope. The temperature dropped to 1.5 Celsius on the mountain.
A driver in his mid-40s died and his passenger, in her mid- 20s, is in critical condition after their car was involved in an accident on Route 7912 east of Haifa. Route 90 toward the Dead Sea and the Route 234 bridge were closed due to flooding.
“It is a normal winter system with a surface depression moving from Cyprus to Syria,” said Dr. Amos Porat, head of the Climate Department at the Israel Meteorological Service.
“As a result, northern Israel is receiving the largest amounts of rainfall.”
Rains are expected to taper off on Thursday and Friday. (Jerusalem Post)
Policy Recommendations on the Middle East for the Trump Administration
by Moshe Ya’alon INSS Insight No. 876 (The Institute for National Security Studies)
The United States’ stature as a leading global power in the Middle East has eroded in recent years. The administration’s decision to play a reactive rather than a proactive role in the Middle East created a vacuum in the region that was filled by elements that worked against the interests of the United States and its regional allies. The new US administration will be under the scrutiny of the international community, and the first steps that it takes will have critical implications for the way in which the various actors in the Middle East and the entire international community perceive it. Consequently, the first actions by the new administration in the region offer tremendous potential for improving the United States’ position and image, and the new administration should do its utmost to realize this potential. Particularly at issue are a number of measures that have the power to restore the United States’ stature and deterrence in the Middle East, and as a result, in other regions of the world as well.
The United States’ stature as a leading global power in the Middle East has eroded in recent years. The administration’s decision to play a reactive rather than a proactive role in the Middle East created a vacuum in the region that was filled by elements that worked against the interests of the United States and its regional allies. The administration’s policy, which was perceived in the region as an abandonment of allies (Egyptian Presidents Mubarak and el-Sisi, and the Gulf states), coupled with its closer ties with Iran, created a crisis of trust between the administration and the Sunni regimes. This negative attitude toward US policy peaked with Sunnis supporting Russian moves aimed at formulating a solution for the crisis in Syria (despite conflicts of interest between them and Moscow in this context), and even arms purchases from Russia and other countries, instead of American weapons (Egypt’s purchase of Russia’s S-300 missile system, and Saudi Arabia’s intention to purchase Russia’s S-400 missile system; purchases of French Rafale fighter planes by Egypt and Qatar, and more).
There is no doubt that President Barack Obama’s decision to refrain from striking the chemical weapons stockpiles and manufacturing plants in Syria, despite the fact that the Assad regime had crossed the declared American red line, dealt a severe blow to the United States’ position in the region, and substantially eroded its deterrence. The nuclear agreement with Iran also weakened the stature and deterrence of the country that is supposed to be the most powerful nation in the world. Furthermore, the American response to Iranian provocations, as well as to the missile tests, the seizure of US Navy ships, the harassment of American ships in the Strait of Hormuz, the firing by Houthis in Yemen of Iranian-supplied missiles at a US battleship and the near sinking of a United Arab Emirates vessel in the Bab el-Mandab Strait – exacerbated the erosion of United States stature and deterrence.
Statements by Commander of the United States Pacific Command Admiral Harry Harris at the International Security Forum conference in Halifax emphasized that deterrence is based on three components: capabilities, resolve, and signaling. US conduct in the above incidents did not show any resolve, which is why the United States’ power of deterrence was drastically undermined. Furthermore, the vacuum in the Middle East, which steadily diminished US deterrence and influence in the region, was filled by Iran, Turkey, the Islamic State, and Russia.
Iran is the country that gains the most from the nuclear agreement (the JCPOA) signed by Tehran and the world powers in the summer of 2015.
- Iran retains its ability to manufacture uranium-enriched fissile material and a nuclear bomb within less than a decade and a half, without breaching the agreement. The significance of this is that it retains its military nuclear option.
- It benefits from the removal of the political blockade.
- It benefits from the removal of some of the economic sanctions.
- It extends its influence and even gains control in Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and Sana’a, through Shiite political factors that are under its influence, if not its authority.
- The Obama administration perceives Iran as an important component in stabilizing the region, due to its willingness to fight against the Islamic State. In this context, the administration has disregarded Iran’s violations of Security Council resolutions on proliferation of arms and terrorism, coupled with missile testing and human rights violations (opponents of the regime are incarcerated and even executed). The participation by Revolutionary Guard commanders and forces (the Quds Force, commanded by Qasem Soleimani) in warfare against the Sunnis throughout the region increases its power, influence, and control over the region.
The Turkish regime, led by President Erdoğan:
- has funded the Islamic State through oil purchases, without paying a price for this (and note Turkey is a member of NATO);
- for a prolonged period, has enabled jihadists from all over the world to join the Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq, through enabling use of Turkish airports to gain access to the battlefields and then return to their home countries as experienced and trained terrorists; all this, out of its view that fighting the Kurds is its top priority;
- continues to launch offensives against the Kurds, who for their part, are effectively fighting against the Islamic State;
- is enabling (and even increasing) the flight of refugees (from Syria and Iraq) and mainly illegal immigration to Europe from Muslim countries not in a state of war (including North African countries, Pakistan), while demanding that the European Union grant visa-free travel to Turkish citizens.
- is looking to gain more influence in the region (the neo-Ottoman approach) and is leading the Muslim Brotherhood camp in the Middle East (in the Palestinian arena, for example, Turkey supports Hamas and not Fatah).
The Islamic State
The Islamic State took advantage of the evacuation of the American forces from Iraq in order to conquer areas in Iraq and in Syria, and announced the establishment of the Islamic State. At a later stage, the United States decided to return to the arena leading a coalition of Western countries against the Islamic State in Iraq, and attacking the Islamic State in Syria within the scope of an Arab coalition led by the United States.
The US administration subsequently decided to support the Kurds; improve its air strikes against the Islamic State while focusing on destroying the organization’s economic resources; launch pinpoint attacks against individuals, improve the Kurds’ fighting capabilities against the Islamic State, and apply pressure on Turkey to stop financing the organization and stop enabling the passage of jihadists through Turkey in order to join the ranks of the Islamic State – all of which intensified pressure on the Islamic State and damaged many of its assets, to the point of arresting its momentum.
Russia took advantage of the American weakness to seize a leading stance and influence (most of the region’s leaders and their representatives visited Moscow more times last year than they did in Washington and began purchasing weapons and materiel from Russia). Moscow’s interests in the Middle East do not converge with Washington’s, and sometimes run counter to them. Beyond the competition between the United States and Russia over power and influence in the region, Russia is supporting the Shiite axis in general, and the Assad regime in particular, and is not focusing on fighting the Islamic State but rather, is launching attacks on all groups opposing the Assad regime, and with its indiscriminate bombings, slaughtering many civilians.
Russia’s military and political involvement in Syria was rationalized by Russian President Vladimir Putin as saving the Assad regime; preventing chaos in Syria of the magnitude that developed in Iraq and in Libya (while blaming the United States for this chaos); and reflecting Putin’s preference for killing the 2,000 Russian-speaking jihadists who joined the rebels on Syrian soil, rather than having to deal with them in Russia itself. Nevertheless, it is clear that, beyond its declared objectives, Russia achieved additional gains from its involvement in Syria:
- Readmission to the world powers’ playing field: the hesitant response by the United States to Assad’s crossing Washington’s red line gave Russia a double boost – first: the United States was depicted as unreliable and weak compared to Russia; second: Russia, as the initiator of a compromise for Syria’s chemical weapons disarmament, earned international credit for saving the situation, and even as the power that rescued the United States from an embarrassing situation.
- It proved to the regimes in the region and elsewhere that it is loyal to its allies (as opposed to the US abandonment of the Sunnis).
- It succeeded in diverting attention from the crisis in Ukraine to Syria.
- It displayed its military capabilities and used the battlefield in Syria as a testing field for its weapon systems.
- It preserved and even rehabilitated its military assets in Syria: its naval facility in the port of Tartus, its air force base south of Latakia, and its intelligence facilities inside Syria.
- It created leverage against the United States and Europe by pushing refugees out of Syria, through Turkey and into Europe.
Looking Ahead to the New US Administration
The administration that will assume office on January 20, 2017 will have to formulate a grand strategy for the Middle East, based on a number of decisions that will have an impact on the situation in the region and beyond, in the long and short ranges. Of the pivotal questions, the first is whether the United States intends on playing a more active or even proactive role in the Middle East.
I believe that the United States will have no other choice but to take a grand proactive strategy in the region – both in order to regain its standing as a world power, in a way that will also project its power in other regions, and in order to distance the Middle East threats from America, Europe, and elsewhere. Such a strategy will require:
- Continued resolute fighting against the Islamic State, which must be defeated in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and the Sinai Peninsula. Striking at the territorial strongholds and economic assets of the organization will not completely eradicate the covert terrorist infrastructure that it has already built in various locations around the world any time soon, but would deal it a severe blow, and particularly, to its image of triumph. Such a blow would also affect the organization’s recruitment capabilities and would lead to its subjugation in the more distant future. In order to achieve this, the United States must lead the coalition fighting the Islamic State, while helping the Kurds and the non-jihadist Sunni organizations that are willing to fight against the Islamic State (and also against the Assad regime). The Kurdish example needs to serve as a model for “local boots on the ground,” fighting for their objectives on the basis of American, European, and other assistance, which includes weapons, money, and political support. The Kurds, for example, were initially defeated by the Islamic State, until the Americans decided to assist them.
- A change in policy toward Iran: The Iranian regime is the most significant destabilizing factor in the Middle East, and therefore should not be seen as if it were a key element in stabilizing the region, since it is not part of the solution, but rather is the essence of the problem.
The Iranian regime must suffer political and economic pressure, as a consequence of its violations of Security Council resolutions relating to weapons proliferation and to the development and manufacture of missiles (unrelated to the nuclear agreement), and due to its subversive operations and terrorist activities in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Lebanon and Syria, alongside terrorist activities in the Palestinian arena and on five continents (where there are Iranian sleeper terrorist infrastructures). Another reason that pressure must be applied on the Iran regime is the human rights situation in this country.
Above all, the US administration must take immediate action to prevent Iran from achieving military nuclear capability. Even if Iran complies with the nuclear agreement, it will be capable of manufacturing nuclear weapons within less than fifteen years. Coordinating the policy in this context with additional countries first requires immediate action in order to prevent any surprises in the future. Furthermore, a change in US policy toward Iran would strengthen relations and restore the trust that was lost between the United States and the Sunni Arab countries – its more natural partners.
- A change in policy toward Turkey: due the United States weakness in the Middle East, the Turkish regime dared to take action contrary to Western interests in general and American interests in particular. Discussions clarifying the Americans’ red and yellow lines, while stressing that any crossing of them will harm Turkish interests, could put a stop to Turkey’s rogue behavior.
- In coordination with Turkey, the illegal immigration to Europe from Muslim countries through Turkey must be stopped, by creating a “safe zone” in northern Syria, or refugee camps on the Turkish side of the border (similar to the refugee camps on the Jordanian-Syrian border).
- Turkey must stop attacking the Kurds indiscriminately, and focus solely on terrorists.
iii. Turkey must stop accommodating the Hamas terrorist headquarters in Istanbul.
- An improved situation vis-à-vis Turkey will have an additional positive effect on the United States’ position in the international arena – both in light of this achievement and considering the unstable relations between it and Russia, which would weaken the intensifying Russian influence in the region.
- A change in policy toward Russia: The United States needs to institute a more assertive policy against the indiscriminate bombing of Syrian civilians and against attacks on non-jihadist rebels. The operations against the Islamic State may be coordinated with Moscow, but the Americans should not allow Iranian-Shiite dominance in Syria under Russian protection and support. It is also possible to reach an American-Russian understanding regarding the future of the Syrian “Alawistan” (where the Russian interests in Syria are concentrated). Furthermore, confidence-building measures are necessary, along with the creation of an infrastructure for coordinating between the United States and Russia in the region. The entry of a new administration into office constitutes timing that is both natural and warranted for promoting actions in these directions.
- A change in approach to the Syrian arena: In relation to Syria’s future in general, the United States needs to abandon the idea of reuniting the country that has been torn apart by fighting, and accept the fact that Syria has already been fragmented into ethnic/religious enclaves: “Alawistan,” Kurdistan and “Druzistan.” Once the Islamic State is defeated, it will be necessary to establish Sunni leadership/s in the Sunni regions.
The new US administration will be under the scrutiny of the international community, and the first steps that it takes will have critical implications for the way in which the various actors in the Middle East and the entire international community perceive it. Consequently, the first actions by the new administration in the region offer tremendous potential for improving the United States’ position and image, and the new administration should do its utmost to realize this potential. Particularly at issue are a number of measures to be instituted by the incoming administration at the outset of its term, which will have the power to restore the United States’ stature and deterrence in the Middle East, and as a result, in other regions of the world as well.