Gregg Roman speaks to Arutz Sheva's Ido ben Porat
Gregg Roman speaks to Arutz Sheva's Ido ben PoratArutz Sheva

Gregg Roman, director of the Middle East Forum, a nonprofit organization that promotes American interests and Western values in the Middle East, spoke to Arutz Sheva about the recent escalation of conflict between the United States and Iran, which reached a new height with the elimination of the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Qassem Soleimani, in a US drone strike in Iraq overnight Thursday.

Were you surprised by the dramatic elimination that was carried out by direct order from President Trump?

"I wasn't so surprised by Trump's decision to eliminate Soleimani. He was Iran's main terrorist for 22 years, mainly outside Iran, and was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans as well as allies who were fighting with us in Iraq. Finally, a president came along who ordered him killed."

We heard the fury of Iranian leaders, Rouhani and Khamenei, and their promise of revenge. Should we expect a harsh response on their part?

"The Iranians' interest in taking revenge for the elimination of Soleimani is a double-edged sword if they react with an act of revenge that will influence the actions of the US in the area. It's better for them not to fight against the American interest because Trump - if he's willing to kill the top commander - if the Iranians will so something worse than killing one American...such as striking an American battleship in the Gulf or an attack on a US embassy, that would cause more backlash than the murder of Soleimani. I, in the place of the Iranians, would be silent now and would not take revenge.

Your research institute, the Middle East Forum, has been working in recent years to inculcate the concept of Israeli victory into the political and security discourse. Tell us what that means.

"The Israel Victory Project guides American and Israeli policies to support Israel's victory over the Palestinians in order to settle the Israeli-Arab conflict. This new paradigm aims to convince the Palestinians that the Jewish State will endure, based on Israel's previous and successful deterrence strategy.

I am sure many Israelis agree and support this view. The question is why Prime Minister Netanyahu, a right-wing politician, doesn't lead in this way? Nevertheless, he's already been in power for ten years. Do you understand it?

"That's an interesting question. A lot of people wonder what exactly is going on in Bibi's head regarding his position on security. Decades ago, he wrote that if we want to fight Palestinian terrorism, we have to pay a huge price. I think the Prime Minister has already been in office for ten years - he's been in power longer than Ben-Gurion - and has had many security challenges - three operations against Hamas in Gaza, and the biggest challenge now against Iran.

"If you've been in office for so long and you have had four defense ministers, dozens of ministers sitting in the cabinet with you and you have been the only prime minister in all these ten years, maybe your world view is based not only on what is happening in your reality but on the entire world reality.

"I think Bibi supports our idea, but he has to deal with world leaders, he has to deal with Trump who is seeking his 'Deal of the Century' and his friends and the political opposition in Israel. And maybe despite all his legal problems, it's time to introduce a new paradigm and new ideas. And I believe that Bibi will adopt them if he has political support and political certainty that allows him to adopt the idea.

"I think he agrees with our perception, but he doesn't have the political support. All Israeli citizens need to understand our idea of Israeli victory, understand how to fight the Palestinian problem. We're not there yet, we need the people to embrace our idea as well, and then the Israeli leader will receive the support for its implementation."