US Withdrawal from Middle East Concerns Begin-Sadat Center Director at AFBIU Event

"The United States withdrawal from the Middle East is perceived as weakness by the Arab states…This along with the rise of Iran, which has been empowered by the nuclear deal, is of great concern to Israel," said Professor Efraim Inbar, director of the Bar-Ilan University Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies, at an American Friends of Bar-Ilan University (AFBIU) outreach event hosted recently by Gregg Mashberg in the law office of his firm Proskauer Rose LLP in New York City.

In his lecture exploring the "Implications of American Retreat from the Middle East," Inbar said he cannot really blame the US for wanting out of the Middle East. "After two failed wars, and with it being less dependent on Middle East oil, the Administration wants less involvement. It wants the people of the Middle East to deal with their own issues." 

What he deplored was the "weak" way that the US was withdrawing. "It has no carrier in the region to project force, which is due to cuts in defense spending. It withdrew from Iraq, which is unable to defend itself; it withdrew from Afghanistan without defeating the Taliban; it has left Assad in power in Syria; and it ruled out taking a hard line with Iran by agreeing to the nuclear agreement," he said. Inbar added that US weakness brings about European weakness as well.

Lack of Strength Will Lead to US Eviction from the Gulf

He said this lack of strength will eventually lead to the US eviction from the Gulf, which is a stated Iranian policy. "Without the US showing force in the region, Iranians will be able to tell the US to go away."

Inbar said that nuclear proliferation in the Middle East will spread due to the US withdrawal from the region. "The US offer to provide a nuclear umbrella has not worked because countries don't see it as credible. It was not accepted by the Saudis or by France. Why should other Arab states accept it?" said Inbar, who added that Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt will most likely obtain nuclear weapons in the future, along with Iran if Israel doesn't act.

Israel is Facing a Growing Iranian Cloud

"Israel is facing a growing Iranian cloud, which is pushing it into a protective mode. This is why it must put an end to the Iranian nuclear capability," said Inbar. 
This was the fifth program of AFBIU's ongoing Lunch and Learn series that emphasizes an intimate, interactive dialogue with Bar-Ilan scholars in an informal setting. Inbar said he hoped the group that attended this event would come away with a deeper understanding of both the main security challenge facing Israel and why the BESA Center of Bar-Ilan University is a major player in powerfully advocating for Israel's security interests.

AFBIU President Ronnie Stern provided the attendees with an overview of how the University strengthens Israel through its community service projects that help Israelis at risk, and its Israel advocacy programs such as the BESA Center.

To learn more about the AFBIU Lunch and Learn series in New York City, as well as the BESA Center and its advocacy efforts on behalf of Israel, call Gary Baskind at 212-906-3904 or email gary.baskind@afbiu.org

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