Iran the Focus of Tripartite Security Meeting in Jerusalem
The national security advisers of the United States, Russia and Israel kicked off a tripartite meeting in Jerusalem geared toward aligning – if possible – their Middle East policies. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also took part in the first round of discussions on Monday. Not surprisingly, front and center in the talks is Iran and its military involvement in countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. Washington has accused the Islamic Republic of orchestrating recent attacks on six tankers in the Gulf, as well as encouraging Iranian-aligned Houthis in Yemen to target critical infrastructure in Saudi Arabia. There is also speculation that it was Tehran-backed Shi’ite-fighters in Iraq who fired a missile into Baghdad’s Green Zone – where the US Embassy is located – as well as at an American military base elsewhere in the country. The US and Israel are also concerned about Iran’s ongoing militarization of Syria, which over the past two-plus years has prompted hundreds, if not thousands, of cross-border Israeli strikes. On this point, analysts believe it could be possible for the three sides to find common ground, given that Moscow shares an interest in stabilizing Syria so as to consolidate its hard-fought gains since intervening in the war in 2015. Regarding the Islamic Republic’s aggression in the region, it might be harder to get the Russians on board with US President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the mullahs. In fact, Russia has built a nuclear power plant for Iran at Bushehr, and perhaps has an interest in the US becoming entangled in another military confrontation in the Middle East, which would further open the door for Moscow to challenge Washington’s decades-long regional dominance. Netanyahu, meanwhile, noted in a brief press conference that the 78th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union – during which the “Russian people were attacked in the most formidable and cruel way” – falls this week. The prime minister suggested that because of this harrowing experience, in which millions of Russians were killed, the Kremlin must understand the “significance for us [Israel] of an [Iranian] regime calling for our destruction… and which acts day after day to achieve that goal.” Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council has condemned the attacks on oil tankers in the Middle East as a serious threat to international peace and security.