Israel will not allow Military entrenchment of Iran in Syria: PM Netanyahu
Israel confirmed earlier in the day that it had striked against targets linked to Iran’s Quds Force and the Syrian Armed Forces in the country.
Israel will not allow Iranian military entrenchment against the Jewish state in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a trilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Bahraini Foreign Minister Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani.
The prime minister warned that any attempt to attack Israel will not be tolerated and would lead to consequences.
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) announced earlier in the day that they had struck Iranian Quds Force and Syrian Armed Forces targets in Syria roughly a day after they defused improvised explosive devices in the southern Golan Heights, which Israel blamed the Syrian government for.
According to the Syrian news agency SANA, Israeli forces opened rocket fire early on Wednesday from the direction of the Golan Heights. Syria’s air defence forces shot down several rockets. As a result of the attack, three servicemen were killed and one was wounded.
Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria during the Six-Day War in 1967, and has been in control of them since 1981 after passing the controversial Golan Heights Law. The status of the mountain plateau is considered one of the main sticking points in the Israeli-Syrian conflict.
US Secretary of State Pompeo Vows More Anti-Iran Sanctions ‘in Coming Weeks & Months’
As part of its ongoing vast pressure campaign against Iran, the United States earlier imposed similar limitations on four individuals and six companies.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has pledged more sanctions on Iran “in the coming weeks and months”, while the US Treasury Department has updated its list of newly sanctioned individuals and companies.
The new batch of sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic includes restrictions against nine individuals and dozens of entities, including the Khamenei-linked Bonyad Mostazafan foundation and Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi, as per the US Treasury Department website.
“The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control took action today against a key patronage network for the Supreme Leader of Iran, the Islamic Revolution Mostazafan Foundation (Bonyad Mostazafan, or the Foundation), an immense conglomerate of some 160 holdings in key sectors of Iran’s economy, including finance, energy, construction, and mining,” the Treasury website reads.
Last week, the US introduced limitations targeting four high-profile Iranians and six local companies, with the move closely following Washington’s sanctions slapped on the Islamic Republic’s oil sector, including the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum.
According to Russia’s permanent representative in Vienna, the US must cancel without further delay all the unilateral sanctions against Iran, after it quit the JCPOA in 2018.
Axios reported around that time that the Trump administration, which has been persisting in its crackdown on Iran, aimed to use the restrictions to make life all the more difficult for Democrat Joe Biden, who is projected to win the presidential election and would perhaps strive to get the US back into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement, which Trump unilaterally withdrew from back in May 2018. According to the US news website, which cited two unnamed Israeli sources briefed on a projected wave of anti-Iran limitations, the Trump administration is set to achieve the plan by coordinating with Tel Aviv and other Gulf states, before the 20 January inauguration of a new president.
Biden, for his part, promised while campaigning for the presidency to move quickly to re-join the nuclear deal with Iran, so long as Iran likewise complies with the provisions of the deal.
However, US special envoy for Iran Elliott Abrams voiced doubt that Joe Biden would be able to rid Iran of the sanctions imposed by Donald Trump.
“Legally, it is correct that a president has the right to reverse any executive act that he took or that a previous president took. Whether it is advisable and politically possible is a different question”, Abrams said, noting that the US persist in exercising the poliies of maximum pressure on Tehran in the foreseeable future.
“It’s unrelated to politics, it has nothing to do with the elections. It’s the foreign policy of the US”.
Milestone JCPOA Deal
The bilateral tensions between Washington and Tehran have severely intensified since the Trump team’s unilateral decision to pull out from the P5+1 2015 Iran nuclear deal clinched under Barack Obama in 2015 and started to reinstate Washington’s sanctions that had been lifted under the agreement terms. All the other signatories to the deal, namely the UK, China, Germany, and Russia denounced the move as poorly motivated and potentially undermining other countries’ relationship, economic ties among them, with Tehran.
As stipulated by the landmark accord, the Islamic Republic was to curb its nuclear programme and allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit its plants in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions and the arms embargo. The agreement followed years of tensions between Iran and the international community over claims that Tehran was scrambling to covertly develop nuclear weapons and undermine international security and peace – allegations the country dismissed as rumours and lies.
Iran Capable of Preventing, Responding to ‘Melancholy Adventure’ of Any Aggressor
Two media outlets reported separately on 17 November that Trump was consulting with members of his administrations about the possibility of striking an Iranian nuclear site in the coming weeks. Members of his administration reportedly convinced POTUS to abandon such plans.
Iran is well prepared to deal with any course of action that a potential aggressor might undertake against the Islamic Republic, the spokesman for the country’s UN mission, Alireza Miryousefi, has stated.
“Iran has proven to be capable of using its legitimate military might to prevent or respond to any melancholy adventure from any aggressor”, the spokesman said.
Miryousefi’s statement came in response to reports by The New York Times and Reuters saying that Trump was considering attacking Iran’s main nuclear site, presumably the Natanz nuclear enrichment plant, but was dissuaded from doing so by members of his administration. The spokesman stressed that despite the US’ actions, namely its withdrawal from the nuclear deal, the country’s nuclear programme remained peaceful, as Tehran has always said.
Earlier, Iranian government spokesperson Ali Rabiei cautioned Washington against launching an attack against Iranian nuclear objects, vowing a “crushing response” from Tehran otherwise. Rabiei expressed hope that the US does not really want to “cause insecurity in the world and the region”.
Trump’s Fight Against Return to JCPOA
According to media reports, Trump sought to conduct a strike an Iranian nuclear facility in coming weeks before allegedly being convinced not to plunge the US into a new regional conflict by members of his administration. Earlier, an Axios report suggested that Trump would try to “flood” Iran with new sanctions in the near future – in case he loses his lawsuits over alleged voter fraud and irregularities and Joe Biden assumes the office of the president.
Biden has indicated his intention to look at bringing the US back into the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), during his campaign, after Trump walked away from it in 2018 and re-imposing sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Axios’ report suggests that the “flood” of new sanctions would be too politically risky for Biden to lift, should he win the presidency. At the same time, Iran has stressed in the past that it would only be willing to negotiate a return of the US to the JCPOA after sanctions are lifted.