Background Briefing: September 18, 2019


Israel’s Deadlocked Election and the Shady Kingmaker

We begin with the elections in Israel that have failed to declare a winner and have resulted in the former nightclub bouncer from Moldova, Avigdor Lieberman, emerging as the kingmaker who could either side with the centrist opposition led by former Defense Chief Benny Gantz or with Netanyahu with whom he has had a falling out. Joining us from Israel is Gideon Levy a journalist and columnist with Ha’aretz and the former spokesman for Shimon Perez whose latest book is “The Punishment of Gaza”. We discuss the likelihood that when all the ballots are counted by Friday, the political paralysis from the deadlocked vote will continue resulting in the possibility of a third election. With Benny Gantz saying he would form a national unity government with Likud only if it dumped Netanyahu as its leader while Lieberman has refused to join Netanyahu’s coalition unless he dumps the ultra-orthodox parties, the future of Israel’s longest-serving prime minister does not look good, particularly since he is facing a possible prison sentence. And although Netanyahu tried to tie himself to Donald Trump who is incredibly popular in Israel, Trump did not go out of his way to help his buddy Bibi. Netanyahu was also not helped by the free newspaper Sheldon Adelson had launched to support him which was less enthusiastic in its support due to a falling out between the two men’s wives Miriam Adelson and Sara Netanyahu.


US Mistakes Continue to Enhance Iran’s Power and Position in the Middle East

Then we look into the extent to which Iran’s power and position in the Middle East has been helped by the hubris and incompetence of American presidents with George W Bush handing Iraq to Iran as a result of his foolish invasion and failed war which has led to Iran gaining ground in Syria and Lebanon. And now with the help of an even more reckless and ignorant president, Donald Trump, the Iranians are splitting the U.S. from its European allies while the Emirates appear to be splitting from Saudi Arabia, leading to a possible capitulation of the toothless Kingdom to accept eventual Iranian hegemony in the region. Nader Hashemi, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver, joins us.


Will Trump or the Iranians Cry Uncle?

Then finally we speak with a founder of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, Dr. Mohsen Sazegara, to try to determine whether the IRGC was behind the missile attack on the Saudi oil installations now that evidence is emerging the missiles were fired from Iran and crossed through Iraqi and Kuwaiti airspace to reach their targets. With both the Supreme Leader and President Rouhani closing the door on any possible meeting between the American and Iranian presidents at the UN, we assess whether it will be Donald Trump who backs down instead of the Iranians, who under Trump’s campaign of maximum pressure, were expected to cry uncle.