By Steven Erlanger, Published in The New York Times, 30 December 2016
LONDON — Even the so-called special relationship is subject to limits, it seems.
With a Republican administration under Donald J. Trump only weeks away, Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain scolded Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday night for his speech criticizing Israel — a public jab that would have been highly unlikely any other time during the Obama administration.
In a statement that echoed Mr. Trump’s fierce criticism of the Obama administration, Mrs. May chided Mr. Kerry for, among other things, describing the Israeli government as the “most right-wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements.” READ MORE
"In an opinion piece in The Guardian newspaper, Azriel Bermant, a lecturer in international relations at Tel Aviv University, suggested that, by criticizing Mr. Kerry and currying favor with both Mr. Trump and Mr. Netanyahu, Mrs. May may be hoping to, as Mr. Darroch suggested, persuade Mr. Trump to act more moderately in the Middle East and support the two-state solution that Mr. Kerry was defending.
By Azriel Bermant, Published in The Guardian on Friday 30 December 2016
What was Theresa May thinking in attacking the US secretary of state John Kerry’s address on the need for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Her spokesman said on Thursday: “We do not ... believe that the way to negotiate peace is by focusing on only one issue, in this case the construction of settlements, when clearly the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is so deeply complex.”
This is extraordinary. Why would May attack Kerry for suggesting that settlements were the main obstacle to peace? Did she read his speech? In it, he stated that “settlements are not the whole or even the primary cause of this conflict” and strongly condemned terrorism and incitement against Israel. More extraordinary still, why would the British prime minister criticise Kerry when her own government played a leading role in the passing of UN security council resolution 2334 which condemned Israel over its settlement expansion? Kerry ordered the United States to abstain while May’s government voted in favour... READ MORE
By Azriel Bermant and Igor Sutyagin, Published in The National Interest, December 5, 2016
On 18 November, Vladimir Putin issued a warning that Russia considered missile defense and Prompt Global Strike as threats to its security, and would work hard to neutralise them. Viktor Ozerov, Chairman of the Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee, went further in an interview with the RIA Novosti Russian news agency on Nov. 21, warning of Russian efforts to improve its offensive capabilities to deal with NATO’s missile defense installations. Ozerov specifically mentioned air-to-surface missiles capable of penetrating US air defenses in Europe. In the meantime, the Russian military has placed Bastion missile launchers in Kaliningrad, the exclave bordering NATO members Poland and Lithuania. This could threaten the prospective NATO missile defense site in Poland.
Remarkably, with all the controversy surrounding Trump’s remarks on NATO and the Baltic States during the presidential election campaign, barely a word was heard about the missile defense system. This is surprising for a number of reasons... READ MORE
By Azriel Bermant, Published in The JC, December 1, 2016
In 1981, the British band Heaven 17 released a single called Fascist Groove Thang. The song, a fierce attack on Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, described the US President-elect as a "fascist god in motion" , bewailing "evil men with racist views spreading all across the land" and "Democrats out of power across that great wide ocean." Sounds familiar? The BBC banned it from the airwaves citing legal concerns. Thirty five years on, with Donald Trump as President-elect, the world is crying out for Reagan. After his election victory, Trump remarked that he was looking forward to having the same relationship with Theresa May, Britain's Prime Minister, that Reagan had once enjoyed with Thatcher. A Trump visit to Britain may take place next summer.
There are some interesting- if eerie - similarities between the situation in 1979/1980 when Thatcher and Reagan came to power and the state of the world today. READ MORE
Dr Azriel Bermant
Foreign Policy and International Security Analyst, Historian, Lecturer, Author