Analysis: Netanyahu's implicit threat to bring down Iranian regime
Jewel SAMAD (AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can come away from the UN General Assembly in New York with the knowledge that he succeeded, particularly on the matter of Iran. Not so much because of his speech in the chamber, but rather because of the fact that Netanyahu managed to leverage Donald Trump's election promise of canceling the nuclear agreement by transforming it into an official threat.
To be sure, Netanyahu always demanded the cancellation of the agreement, but he got precisely what he had wanted the whole time, namely the strengthening of the mechanisms of supervision in the current agreement.
Moreover, he managed to inculcate an understanding in the international community that Tehran is seeking to spread its control throughout the Middle East and is hell bent on Israel’s destruction. That's why, as far as he is concerned, the Ayatollahs cannot be allowed to turn Syria into a client state under its patronage.
Netanyahu achieved all of this and during his speech he made it abundantly clear to the Iranians that Israel will not hesitate to launch a military assault on them if the threat increases. This statement—”Those who threaten us with annihilation put themselves in mortal peril. Israel will defend itself with the full force of our arms and the full power of our convictions”—should not be dismissed because it has never been so explicitly uttered.
Another achievement by Netanyahu was the tightening of relations between Jerusalem and Washington as well as his personal relationship with President Trump himself.
The compliments he furnished on the president were like rain falling on arid land. Trump is seldom the recipient of such flattery from world leaders but Netanyahu has positioned himself as a loyal and devoted friend of the American president who is repeatedly vilified both at home and abroad.
In return, in stark contrast to his predecessors, the president failed to mention even a single word in his speech about the Palestinian issue. It is quite conceivable that Trump opted to avoid raising the subject due to loyalty demonstrated by Netanyahu and his willingness to stand by his side.
This appears to be a silent understanding between the two leaders and even if the nuclear agreement with Iran is not entirely nullified, the US will at the very least do more to prevent the Iranians from extending their physical presence into Syria.
Netanyahu proved during his 11th speech at the UN that he is a gifted and captivating orator in English, but it’s a shame that the General Assembly in New York was half empty.
Israel’s grievances against the UN have been given an additional impetus which can largely be attributed to Trump. Credit is also due to Israel’s ambassador to the US Ron Dermer who is ensuring that the grievances continue to be at the top of the agenda.
Undoubtedly Netanyahu’s speech was not bereft of exaggerations, one of which was the claim that a revolution has begun in Israel’s international standing. But in the main, the speech was well structured.
However, and it is a big however, everything that we heard Tuesday amounted to little more than trite threats, both from Trump and Netanyahu.
Trump did not outline anything concrete regarding his obligations on Iran and Netanyahu only hinted that Israel, and perhaps the US also, would attempt to overhaul the Iranian regime. But neither categorically stated that this was their intention.
The thing that the Iranian regime fears above all else is not surviving. The things said by Netanyahu to the Iranian people that they are friends of Israel’s, unlike their rulers, are more than a clear allusion to the fact that the US and Israel will also act to foment an internal threat in Iran to the regime’s survival.
Nevertheless, as mentioned, in the meantime these are all mere threats and no action. And this is one of the central problems of the Trump administration. Just ask North Korea.
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