Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphatically pushed back against the narrative that the latest Iranian acts of aggression—including attacking the global oil industry and shooting down an American drone—are due to recent decisions from United States President Donald Trump, particularly his pulling out of the nuclear deal with Iran. On the contrary, Netanyahu argues that the instigator of Iran’s uptick in violence was actually the financial benefits accorded to Iran by the nuclear agreement, and they started years ago.
“The supporters of the Iran deal argued that the infusion of cash, massive cash into Iran’s economy, would moderate Iran. They argued that Iran would become inward-focused, would start nation-building. And in fact, the opposite has happened. The very opposite has happened,” said Netanyahu on Sunday in comments released by his office with visiting US National Security Adviser John Bolton
“Iran used those hundreds of billions of dollars to fund empire-building, not nation-building—that is the stamping of one state after the other, and the devouring of one state after another in the Middle East. Those who argue that Iran’s aggression began after the recent actions are not living on the same planet. This is completely false.”
The debate is key because of what the US response should be—the Americans could return to the nuclear deal with Iran and lessen sanctions as a result, or they could press forward with Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign. One of the leading candidates to challenge President Trump in the 2020 US Presidential elections is Joe Biden, who was Vice President when the nuclear deal was signed. While not stating his ultimate response to the current Iran situation, Biden recently claimed on Twitter that Trump’s decision to leave the deal has led to the increase in Iranian aggression.
Netanyahu not only disagrees with that line of thinking, he cited evidence to back him up. The Israeli leader on Sunday highlighted the litany of Iranian malignant activity, from building bases in Syria to proxy rocket attacks to providing weapons and financial support to terrorists. “This increased right after the [nuclear] deal [reached in 2015],” said Netanyahu. “Right after the deal.”
Rather than backtrack the actions of the Trump Administration in the last few years to return to the old status quo of the Iran nuclear deal, Netanyahu is glad that Trump is doubling down on the current pressure strategy.
“Those who describe the recent actions as somehow opening a hornet’s nest are living on another planet. In fact, the one thing that has changed for those of us who live in the Middle East is not that Iran is attacking its neighbors or brazenly perpetrating wanton aggression,” said Netanyahu.
“What’s new is that now, thanks to crippling American sanctions, Iran is facing unprecedented economic pressure as a result of its aggression. So I was pleased to hear President Trump make clear yesterday that pressure will continue and that pressure will increase.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, June 23, 2019)