WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – Tehran responded scornfully on Tuesday to the US imposition of sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and US President Donald Trump responded in kind, with strong warnings against any further Iranian attacks on US targets.
In Jerusalem, a trilateral meeting among the national security advisers of the US, Russia, and Israel, also on Tuesday, failed to produce any evident success in prodding Russia into helping to secure the withdrawal of Iranian forces from Syria, as the Russian envoy repeatedly sided with Tehran against the US and Israel.
On Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in his first public remarks since the newest US sanctions were announced, charged, “The White House is afflicted by mental retardation and does not know what to do,” calling the new sanctions “outrageous” and “idiotic.”
Trump responded with a series of tweets, denouncing “Iran’s very ignorant and insulting statement” and warning, “any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force,” and “in some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration.”
....Iran’s very ignorant and insulting statement, put out today, only shows that they do not understand reality. Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration. No more John Kerry & Obama!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 25, 2019
In Jerusalem, the meeting among the three national security advisors seemed to have the opposite of its intended effect. “Russia, which maintains ties to both Israel and Iran, is seen as a potential interlocutor between the West and Tehran,” The Times of Israel explained in a report that followed the conclusion of the meeting, which lasted over two and a half hours.
“But comments made by its representative at the summit, security adviser Nikolai Patrushev, indicate that Moscow was siding with the Islamic Republic,” The Times concluded.
In a briefing after the meeting, Patrushev criticized the claim, made by both Israel and the US, that Iran represents “the main threat to regional security,” while he described Israeli airstrikes in Syria against Iranian targets as “undesirable.”
Indeed, Patrushev affirmed that Iran was “contributing a lot to fighting terrorists on Syrian soil and stabilizing the situation,” saying Iran “has always been and remains our ally and partner, with which we are consistently developing relations both on bilateral basis and within multilateral formats.”
Patrushev also backed Tehran’s claim that the US drone which it downed last Thursday was in Iranian airspace—although US officials have firmly stated that the drone was flying in international airspace.
Netanyahu credits “his close contacts with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin for Moscow allowing Israel to continue to use air power in Syria against Iran,” The Times reported in February, and the Israeli prime minister has met with the Russian president a dozen times in the past four years.
That was the conceptual background to Tuesday’s meeting. However, Paul Davis, a Senior Fellow at Soran University, who began his career as a US Army analyst of Soviet political and military affairs, expressed his doubts about whether Russia could be so easily separated from Iran.
“Moscow’s relationship with Tehran,” Davis told Kurdistan 24, “gives it leverage. Leverage with Israel, leverage with Syria, leverage with Iran itself.” That is “because Moscow modulates the threat that one side poses to the other,” and each of the parties “looks to Moscow for protection and relief.”
“It’s not impossible that Russia could move against Iran in Syria,” Davis continued, “but if it does, it will be for its own reasons, on its own schedule.” Moscow has a “long-standing relationship” with Damascus, and if Tehran is seen “to undermine that relationship or if its presence in Syria becomes a problem in some other way,” Russia could act.
“But we also need to be prepared for the possibility that Putin is satisfied with the current situation,” Davis cautioned, and “nothing is really going to change.”
Trump will meet Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Japan, which begins on Friday, and Iran is expected to figure prominently in their discussion.
Editing by Nadia Riva