The United States and Israel seek the protraction of crises in the Middle East in order to be able to sell more weapons to regional countries, Iranian Parliament speaker’s special advisor on international affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, says.
During a meeting with Syrian Ambassador to Tehran Adnan Mahmoud on Saturday, Amir-Abdollahian said efforts by Washington and the Tel Aviv regime to prolong “regional crises such as the continuation of [the Saudi] aggression against Yemen, threatening Syria with a military attack and the perpetuation of tensions in Riyadh-Doha relations are aimed at selling more weapons to the [countries of the] region.”
He added that the White House’s review of its policy on Syria shows a “change of tactics and not a change in the objectives of Syria’s enemies.”
Since the outset of the crisis in Syria more than six years ago, enemies have been seeking to oust the country’s legal President Bashar al-Assad, he said.
“Despite such a demand, the Syrian nation’s choice and determination will be the only path to determining Syria’s final fate and the Islamic Republic of Iran, since the beginning of this crisis, has emphasized on political dialogue and negotiations,” Amir-Abdollahian pointed out.
The Iranian official emphasized that Syria stands at the forefront of resistance against the Israeli regime and the fight against terrorism and that it plays an honorable role in this regard.
He pointed to the common stance between Iran and Russia on the Syrian issue and stressed the importance of continued cooperation among the three countries.
Syria has been hit by deadly foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. At Damascus’ request, Iran has been providing military advisory support to the Syrian military in its counterterrorism operations.
Russia has been also carrying out an aerial campaign in Syria in coordination with Damascus since September 2015 to further boost the Syrian military’s anti-terror fight.
Iran plays undeniable role in Middle East
The Syrian envoy, for his part, said Iran has a leading and undeniable role in the region and added that the US and its Western allies seek to undermine Iran’s regional influence.
Mahmoud noted that Tehran and Damascus have a close stance on many regional developments and said the Islamic Republic is playing a vital role in the battle against terrorism both in Syria and the entire region.
He emphasized that Iran, Syria and Russia must continue with consultations to help Damascus solve the ongoing crisis.
Iran says it has removed an old plan to export natural gas to Europe and is instead focusing on exports to its neighbors as well as India.
Amirhossein Zamaninia, Iran’s deputy minister of petroleum for trade and international affairs, said Europe’s gas market was already saturated with excessive supplies and had thus lost its priority in Iran’s gas export plans.
“Iran’s key priority should be exports to the neighboring states as well as India,” Zamaninia told Iran’s IRNA news agency.
He further emphasized that the landmark nuclear agreement that Iran had sealed with the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany in 2015 and the subsequent removal of sanctions against the Islamic Republic had already provided an appropriate opportunity to pursue plans to export natural gas to the neighboring states.
Iran had for years pursued plans to export natural gas to Europe. A tentative scheme that was developed in cooperation with Nabucco – a consortium led by Austria’s OMV – envisaged piping Iranian natural gas from the southern energy hub of Assaluyeh to Turkey and thereon to Europe. However, Nabucco eventually abandoned Iran in 2008 after complications grew the most important of which were US-engineered sanctions against the Iranian energy sector.
A parallel plan to export Iranian gas to Europe – again through Turkey – has been pursued by Switzerland’s EGL, also known as Elektrizitaetsgesellschaft Laufenburg,
Based on the EGL scheme, the Iranian natural gas would be taken to Greece and Albania through Turkey. It would thereon flow to Italy through a pipeline under the Adriatic Sea before reaching Switzerland. However, this scheme had a fate similar to that of Nabucco.
Over the past few years, Iran had been pursuing exporting natural gas to Kuwait, Oman and Iraq.
In late June, the country started exporting gas to Iraq by virtue an agreement that was signed in 2013.
Talks over exports to Kuwait and Oman have been presently stalled over technical issues.
An ambitious project to pipe gas to India through Pakistan – that had been in the offing for almost two decades but delayed for disputes over pricing and the related technicalities – has also been recently revived.
Iran is further exporting about 30 million cubic meters of gas to Turkey which before Iraq was its only export destination since 2001.
Hundreds of Israelis have held a demonstration near Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s home to denounce the slow progress in corruption investigations involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The protest, which did not have a police permit, took place in the city of Petah Tikva on Saturday, the 32nd such weekly event near Mandelblit’s home, Ynetnews website reported.
Waving placards reading “free us from corruption” and “Netanyahu is a disaster,” demonstrators shouted slogans such as, “government of the corrupt” and “Netanyahu resign!”
Protester Aliza Hershkowitz accused Netanyahu of dividing Israel, saying, “That’s how the worst leaders in history acted.”
“I am a grandmother and I decided that I would not sit still as long as I see the corruption around us,” she said. “If there is such corruption, then you have to go out into the streets.”
Yehezkel Baghdadi, another participant in Saturday’s rally, said, “I have been demonstrating here since day one, driving around with a sign on my car that says ‘Bibi the Prime Minister of Thieves’.”
He further stressed that if Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog had done what Netanyahu did, the premier would have called for mass protests to kick him out.
“We will slowly bring the people out (to the streets), we will multiply and become thousands,” he added.
Earlier this week, Mandelblit said the two major probes involving Netanyahu, called Case 1,000 and Case 2,000, were “moving forward at high speed” and there would be no short cuts.
“There have been several reports about the outcome of the investigations, but in order for the investigations to run smoothly, those reports shouldn’t be verified or unverified as of now because that might open a door to leaks of information which might harm the investigations,” he said.
In Case 1000, Netanyahu is suspected of having received gifts from businessmen overseas.
He is also being investigated in Case 2000 for an alleged media bribery scheme to help Yediot Aharonot newspaper against its competitor Yisrael Hayom in return for favorable coverage of the prime minister.
As the probes proceed, Netanyahu’s political standing looks increasingly susceptible.