Global Review: Do you think that the current mass protests will overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran?
Daniel Pipes: I do not. While they are impressively wide and enduring, they probably lack the leadership necessary to remove the Islamic Republic.
GR: How do you assess U.S. and European support for the Iranian protest movement?
DP: Insufficient. Western governments should have helped to shape a leadership, punished Tehran for attacking Kurds, and ended the nuclear negotiations farce.
GR: Might the Iranian regime, sensing itself in danger, aggress against another country – perhaps Saudi Arabia or Israel?
DP: Yes, a Götterdämmerung such as you sketch out is entirely possible.
GR: What do you make of Tehran's claim to have built a hypersonic missile that can reach Israel in 400 seconds and maneuver to avoid Israel's air defenses?
DP: The Iranian authorities routinely lie (for example, about sending drones to Russia) so, while they could be telling the truth this time, the audacity of this claim makes me disinclined to believe it. That is, the distance from Iran to Israel is about 1,800 km, so the missile would need to travel at 4.5 km per second = 16,200 kph, which is over Mach 13; the fastest speed ever recorded in the atmosphere was the NASA X-43 traveling at Mach 9.6.
GR: What is the likely effect of the Iranian mass protest in Iran's vassal states of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen?
DP: So far, the effect has been minimal. But if protests rock the Islamic Republic, that could quickly change.
GR: The mid-term elections past, will the Biden administration change its Middle East policy?
DP: Middle East policy had a minuscule role in the elections, plus the Democrats are generally satisfied with their outcome; together, this translates into little incentive for significant change.
GR: Will the administration revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, i.e., the Iran deal?
DP: Not long ago, I expected the deal to be signed; now I am less sure. The administration emits negative noises about the JCPOA but an outsider cannot tell if these are sincere or a bargaining ploy.
GR: Please name five important ways that the war in Ukraine affects the Middle East.
DP: The loss of fertilizer and foodstuffs, inflation, a bounty for oil and gas producers, dismay among clients of Russia's armaments, and a much-enhanced Moscow-Tehran axis.
GR: How long will Israel's new government remain in power?
DP: Israeli governments rarely make it through their full four-year term but I expect this one will make it beyond the half-way mark.
GR: What major policy differences do you expect from the Netanyahu-led government?
DP: It will pander to the Haredim on the issues they care about (funding, conversion, military service) and it will abandon the effort to bring Israeli Muslims into the political process.
GR: How do you assess the Israel-Lebanon maritime border deal?
DP: It was the weakest action of the anti-Netanyahu government in power during the past 1½ years, a near-desperate attempt to show a diplomatic accomplishment in advance of the November 1 election.
GR: How will Israel's relations with the United States and European Union change?
DP: Should ministers from the National Religious Party break with longstanding policies, ties with allies could fray.
GR: Benjamin Netanyahu previously made sure to have good relations with Vladimir Putin; can this continue, now that Russia relies on Iranian drones to attack Ukraine?
DP: Israel needs less to appease Putin in Syria, given that Ukraine has become his overwhelming priority, but that remains a concern. Also, it still must tread carefully because of the substantial Jewish community living in Russia (estimated at 165,000 persons). Also, international pressure on Israel to supply aerial defenses to Ukraine keeps growing because Israel alone can provide certain defenses against Iranian drones and other air attacks. In all, much worse Israeli relations with Russia look likely.
GR: Israel and Turkey have improved diplomatic relations; is this a major turn or a tactical maneuver by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan?
DP: It's the purest of tactics, reflecting Erdoğan's needs at a time of weakness. His hostility toward Israel remains firmly in place, fueled by an Islamist worldview.