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January 28, 2014 1:04 pm

Ya’alon: ‘U.S. Has Chosen to Abandon its Role as World’s Policeman’

avatar by Gidon Ben-Zvi

Moshe Ya'alon. Photo: Jini/Haaretz.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Tuesday that, “The United States has chosen to abandon its role as the world’s policeman,” Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported.

Ya’alon made his remarks during an address at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) annual conference, held in Tel Aviv.

While the defense minister addressed many matters of relevance to Israel, his comments regarding the shrinking role of the United States in the Middle East were especially pointed.

Ya’alon asserted that the American policy of staying away from regional conflict zones has resulted in Iraq falling under Iran’s “hegemony”. Another consequence of the United States’ leaving Middle Eastern theaters of operation is that, “Syria has become a place of bloodshed, with Russia capitalizing on America’s absence in order to assume a leading role…,” he said.

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Ya’alon began his talk by referring to geopolitical developments in the region, saying that, “When you look at the Middle East today you see a Shiite axis comprised of Iran, Hezbollah and the Assad regime that is supported by Russia. This axis has become the major power in the Middle East.”

Continuing his analysis, Israel’s Defense Minister asserted that as a result of this new Shiite bloc, Sunni Arab nations around the Middle East are increasingly finding common ground, Ma’ariv said. Not only does this Sunni group of nations no longer support “Hamastan” in the Gaza Strip, but it relies on the support of the United States in dealing with the Shiite threat, Ya’alon said.

Regarding Iran, Ya’alon expressed pessimism about the possibility of the current interim agreement with Iran stopping the Islamic Republic’s drive for nuclear weapons, Ma’ariv reported. Israel’s Defense Minister referred to the West’s deal with Iran as a “historic missed opportunity,” which wastes the momentum that had been gained by the international sanctions that had crippled Iran’s economy.

“Let us not be confused: Iran is striving for regional and international hegemony. The Iranian leadership is seeking to build a nuclear umbrella under which they can conduct their activities,” Ya’alon said.

The Defense Minister also spoke about the ongoing Israel-Palestinian Authority framework agreement talks, saying that, “Our interest is in having the Palestinians be able to have control over their own lives. As such, I say let’s progress slowly by promoting economic growth [for the Palestinians], since they are now completely dependent on us. It is this dependence that we want to end.”

Ending his presentation on an upbeat note, Ya’alon told the assembled audience that, “The IDF has over the last few decades been able to integrate technology with military force, which gives us intelligence and operational superiority. [As a result], we can deal with all the rockets and terror that threaten Israel.”

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