The Situation Is Daunting

I won’t lie: I was afraid of a tripartite meeting in Jerusalem. Most Israeli observers have argued that it marks a strategic turn for Russia — a new version of Molotov-Ribbentrop.* They prophesize that Russia will bid farewell to Iran and embrace Israel and America.

But the prophets are wrong. No wonder the Talmud says that the spirit of prophecy disappeared from Israel a few centuries before Christ.

At this meeting, the Russian representative Nikolai Patrushev reiterated the Kremlin’s foreign policy. Russia, of course, is friendly to Israel. Many Russians, or those of Russian heritage, live there. Some were born there, or their ancestors were, and they live there now. Russia also wants to live in peace with the United States. But Russia is not even thinking of parting ties with Iran, its ally in the fight against terror in Syria.

Patrushev stressed the importance of Iran in the continuing fight against terrorism. He said that Iran shot down a giant American drone (a RQ-4A Global Hawk) worth more than $100 million in Iranian airspace, not international airspace as the Pentagon claimed. Russia demanded that the U.S. stop its economic war against Iran, recognize the legitimate Syrian authority of President Bashar Assad, and withdraw troops from Syria.

Thus, Russia showed itself at this difficult moment as a reliable ally and partner, and at the same time, reassured the wobbly Israeli leadership of its friendship.

Russia wants to get closer to the U.S., and is interested in a meeting between its leaders in Osaka. However, Russia absolutely won’t pay for this meeting, which is necessary for both superpowers to serve their basic legitimate interests.

Against the backdrop of this meeting in Jerusalem, the United States continues to carry out clumsy maneuvers against Iran. Both President Donald Trump and his belligerent adjutants, John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, argue that they are seeking negotiations with Iran. “The door is open,” they say. “Let Iran enter and we’ll talk and agree.”

But at the same time they used these peace loving words, the U.S. launched a real economic war against Tehran. What they’re doing is not merely about sanctions, but rather direct economic warfare. And not only economic. According to The New York Times, the National Security Agency—the U.S. cyberintelligence agency—attacked Iranian infrastructure, radar and air defense systems, causing irreparable damage. It’s true, however, that while confirming the attacks, Iran says they were able to repel them.

The U.S. nearly launched a missile strike on Iran. At the last moment, when the planes were already in the air, Trump stopped the operation. It’s particularly disturbing that he himself unambiguously hinted the operation was launched without his knowledge. That is to say, now that the chain of command in the U.S. is in tatters, it’s not clear who can start a war. Moscow and Tehran both have to take this into account.

“Why is Iran silent?” they ask in Washington. Iran is not silent. Iran speaks openly, saying that the U.S. must stop its aggression against Iran, and says that then it will be possible to enter into negotiations. There is nothing for diplomats to talk about while the guns of economic war are talking.

The situation is daunting. President Trump may want to come to an agreement and climb down from the tall tree he has forced himself up after leading his country out of a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran. But he’s hampered by his deep state, and by Pompeo and Bolton. Regarding the latter, Trump himself said that he wants to fight the whole world. Presidents cannot always remove the advisors they want to get rid of. Even the absolute monarchs of the past were not always successful.

Iran is going through a difficult time. The sanctions are very painful. It is difficult to sell oil and gas because the United States prohibits potential buyers from using U.S. dollars. Moreover, U.S. courts are handing out gigantic fines to those they say “violate U.S. sanctions.” Thus, using the example of Iran, the machine of total global control built by the U.S. and its allies is being tested. Therefore, for Russia, the issue of Iranian sanctions is not a foreign concept. Russia’s attitude is not determined solely by its friendships, partnerships or alliances. For the great Russia, independence is as necessary as air.

In fact, the topic of anti-Iranian sanctions was central to the negotiations that ended yesterday in Jerusalem. Moscow is ready to help the parties come to an agreement—provided that the U.S. lifts the sanctions against Iran, recognizes Assad, and withdraws troops from Syria and Iraq—according to a well-known Israeli commentator. But still, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes that he would be able to crush Iran with American power without rejecting Russian proposals.

Let’s hope that in the light of these tripartite talks in Jerusalem, given Trump’s unwillingness to go to war and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s weak position, there will be progress. But this week Trump introduced new sanctions against Iran, the Iranian leader called the American leadership “insane,” and the Americans are again threatening to completely destroy Iran. So it may still get darker before the dawn.

*Editor’s note: This is an apparent reference to The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, officially known as the Treaty of Non-aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It was a neutrality pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed in Moscow in 1939 by foreign ministers Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vyacheslav Molotov, respectively.

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