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On eve of midterms, Netanyahu hails Trump as ‘courageous, determined’ on Iran

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Today the US government reimposed all sanctions on Iran lifted with the 2015 nuclear deal forged by former president Barack Obama. The sanctions “will hit oil exports, shipping and banks, and make it difficult to do business with the oil-rich nation.” (BBC)

Europeans are vowing to violate the sanctions, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is over the moon. He spoke at the Knesset today, in praise of Donald Trump, a day ahead of the US midterms.

This day is a historic day. This is the day on which the United States, led by President Trump, imposed the most severe sanctions on Iran, the most severe sanctions imposed on Iran since the beginning of the effort to stop its aggression… And the second wave of sanctions, especially the sanctions imposed on the SWIFT, the banking clearing system used by the Iranian regime, will add a very severe blow to Iran’s terrorist regime.

I believed that sanctions must include this element of credit clearance. I raised this several times, even during my last meeting with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and I am pleased that the US has decided to include this component, the credit component…

I would like to thank President Donald Trump again for a courageous, determined and important decision. I think that this contributes to stability, security and peace…

This is a great day for the State of Israel. This is a great day for the people of Israel. This is a great day for the future of Israel.”

Donald Trump’s largest donor, Sheldon Adelson, is also a big supporter of Netanyahu. Adelson’s issue is Israel, and he and his wife have poured more than $55 million into the Republican effort in the midterms. Adelson sought Trump’s dramatic policy moves in the Middle East, tearing up the Iran deal, moving the embassy to Jerusalem, and defunding the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

Netanyahu’s praise for Trump is sure to aggravate Israel’s image problems among U.S. Jews, about 3/4 of whom vote Democratic. Haaretz’s Allison Kaplan Somer has said that American Jews may “never forgive” Israeli leaders for refusing to blame Trump in the wake of the Pittsburgh massacre. As IfNotNow writes:

Not only did Israel’s leaders choose Trump over American Jews but they did so easily, naturally, without hesitation, leaping to the defense of a political leader who is actively & openly fanning the flames of hatred that now has an unprecedented death toll.

Meantime, Netanyahu has backed up Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, or MBS, on the murder of a Saudi journalist in October in Turkey. Haaretz reports, while what happened in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul is horrifying, Netanyahu says Iran is a bigger concern.

“What happened in the Istanbul consulate was horrendous and it should be duly dealt with. Yet at the same time I say it, it is very important for the stability of the world, for the region and for the world, that Saudi Arabia remain stable,” Netanyahu said…

“[T]he larger problem is Iran and we have to make sure that Iran does not continue the malign activities that it has been doing over the last few weeks in Europe.

He cited alleged Iranian plans for attacks in Copenhagen and Paris.

Aaron David Miller on the Saudi piece of the puzzle, says the American interest has been sacrificed.

Netanyahu lawyering for MBS’s in Washington says Khashoggi’s murder is horrible; but MBS too big to fail. Israel and Saudi now have something in common. The US special relationship with both has moved from special to exclusive to detriment of US interests.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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5 Responses

  1. JLewisDickerson on November 5, 2018, 2:54 pm

    RE: “This is a great day for the State of Israel. This is a great day for the people of Israel. This is a great day for the future of Israel.” ~ Netanyahu

    MY COMMENT: And, a very sad day for the U.S., its people, and the future of the U.S.!

    • Marnie on November 5, 2018, 11:48 pm

      As long as it’s a ‘great day for the future of israel’, then ‘a little thing known as the rest of the world’ can f*ck off. am israel chai – the most bitter drink money can buy.

    • Misterioso on November 6, 2018, 9:13 am

      @JLewisDickerson et al,

      Netanyahu, Trump and their puppet/pay master, Sheldon Adelson, are going to be very disappointed:

      “Five Reasons Why Trump’s Iran Sanctions Will Fail” – Reuters Commentary, Oct. 31/18, by Seyed Hossein Mousavian

      “Seyed Hossein Mousavian is Middle East Security and Nuclear Policy Specialist at Princeton University and a former spokesman for Iran’s nuclear negotiators. His most recent book, ‘Iran and the United States: An Insider’s view on the Failed Past and the Road to Peace’ was published in 2014.”

      “The next round of economic sanctions on Iran, which will start going into effect on Nov. 4, will mainly target the country’s oil and gas industries. These sanctions were eased after the 2015 signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, but are being phased back in following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the accord six months ago.

      “Trump’s goal in reinstituting the sanctions is to kill the nuclear deal, to bring Iran’s economy to the point of total collapse, to contain Iran’s regional involvement in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and, in spite of Washington’s denials, presumably to celebrate the collapse of Iran’s ruling regime. The White House’s official position is that, by increasing economic and political pressure, it aims to bring Iran back to the negotiating table in order to replace the JCPOA with a new deal that bears Trump’s name.

      “There are at least five reasons why Trump’s strategy will fail”

      “First, while the United States seeks to cut Iran’s oil exports to zero, it has become clear that this is impractical; there is no viable replacement for Iran’s 2.5 million barrels per day in oil exports. While Saudi Arabia previously claimed it had made up for any shortages, experts believe that Riyadh and its allies do not have the capacity to fully offset the loss of Iranian oil. Now that Iran’s oil exports have dropped to an estimated 1.5 million bpd – down from more than 2.5 million before the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA in May – the price of the OPEC reference basket has gone up to around $76. If forecasts indicating that it could jump to $100 per barrel are correct, the price hike will make up for Iran’s loss of revenue even if Tehran’s exports are cut further to 1 million barrels.

      “Second, Trump’s trade war with China and the U.S. imposition of economic sanctions against Russia make Beijing and Moscow less likely to work with Washington on Iran. Moreover, the White House cannot count on cooperation from the European Union, which initiated nuclear negotiations with Iran in 2003 and which sees the JCPOA as one of its signature foreign policy achievements. Further, the EU increasingly views extraterritorial sanctions as a threat to its own identity and independence. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said recently that the ‘outcome of that crisis with Iran will be the chance for Europe to have its own independent financial institutions, so we can trade with whoever we want.’ In the past, cooperation with all major powers was critical to creating an effective Iran policy.

      “Third, U.S. sanctions have laid the groundwork for a historic change in the global financial system. For many decades, the U.S. dollar has dominated the international financial markets. However, American withdrawal from the JCPOA has encouraged countries such as Russia, China, India and Turkey to use their local currencies to trade with Iran. If Europe succeeds in creating a financial system that is separate from the U.S. dollar, other states can use euros in trade with Iran, diminishing U.S. domination of global markets.

      “Fourth, the remaining signatories to the JCPOA view the nuclear deal as a means to counter American unilateralism. This is due to the fact that the JCPOA is a multilateral agreement backed by UN Security Council resolution 2231, which the Trump administration exited unilaterally and is now trying to punish other nations for implementing. Any capitulation to Washington on this issue would further buttress the current U.S. approach. To avoid this, both Iran and the international community will see preserving the JCPOA as a strategic necessity.

      “Fifth, powerful U.S. allies such as the EU and Japan continue to support the JCPOA. Only a handful of regional allies – namely Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel – supported Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal while other major regional players such as Turkey, Oman and Iraq continue to support the accord. At the same time, developments in other regional crises do not favor the United States and its allies: Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia and Iran, is winning Syria’s civil war; the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan has failed; Saudi Arabia has been unable to defeat the Tehran-backed Houthis in Yemen and Qatar has prevailed against the Saudi-led blockade. These developments will make it easier for Tehran to find workarounds to sanctions imposed by Washington.

      “For the past six decades, the United States has been the region’s hegemonic power. However, Trump’s unilateralist approach and the future of JCPOA may change the calculation by creating a rift among the transatlantic allies, and bringing the eastern bloc powers, Europe and regional powers such as Iran, Turkey and Iraq, closer together. Moreover, the JCPOA has paved the way for other world powers – specifically Europe, China, Russia and India ­– to preserve international agreements without the United States. This, coupled with American withdrawal from the international scene, has the potential to transform international power politics, shifting from an American-led system to a multi-polar world, with regional actors playing a more substantial role.

      “Against this backdrop, the next round of U.S. sanctions against Iran is likely to increase Middle East tensions – and unlikely to bring Washington closer to achieving its goals on Iran.”

  2. Keith on November 5, 2018, 4:12 pm

    “And the second wave of sanctions, especially the sanctions imposed on the SWIFT, the banking clearing system used by the Iranian regime, will add a very severe blow to Iran’s terrorist regime.”

    SWIFT is used by most countries, not just Iran. This is global financial warfare. Wall Street and the neocons are calling the shots and they aren’t taking prisoners. The Doomsday Clock is now at 2 minutes to midnight which seems to me to be wildly optimistic. Should be about 30 seconds. If you haven’t already read “Hegemony or Survival” by Noam Chomsky, now might be a good time.

  3. Kay24 on November 5, 2018, 5:39 pm

    Catholic clerics in Jerusalem calls for Israeli to repeal law favoring only Jews. Do American Evangelicals care?

    “Jerusalem (AFP) – Senior Catholic clerics in Jerusalem called Sunday for Israel to repeal a controversial law giving Jews a “unique” right to self-determination in the country.

    “We must draw the attention of the authorities to a simple fact,” bishops and archbishops of the Roman Catholic, Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic and Greek Melkite churches said in a joint statement.

    “Our faithful, the Christians, our fellow citizens, Muslim, Druze and Baha’i, all of us who are Arabs, are no less citizens of this country than our Jewish brothers and sisters.” Juan Cole article

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