…As Iraq’s shock election result may be turning point for Iran***
Kuwaiti statement called for ‘independent and transparent investigation’ into deaths in Gaza, which saw the bloodiest day in the enclave since 2014 war The Trump administration on Monday blocked a UN Security Council statement that was intended to call for an investigation of the events on the Israel-Gaza border.
The statement, circulated by Kuwait, was supposed to include an expression of rage and sorrow on behalf of the Security Council over the deaths of more than 50 Palestinians, who were shot dead by the IDF during protests near the border fence. However, the U.S. blocked it from being adopted and published.
The Kuwaiti statement also included a call for the creation of an “independent and transparent investigation” into Israel’s actions on the border. It wasn’t the first time that the U.S. has blocked an action at the Security Council related to Israel’s actions in Gaza, but was notable in light of the high death toll yesterday in Gaza – the highest since the end of the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.
Earlier Monday, Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the Israeli Embassy’s event marking Israel’s 70th anniversary.
Pence described Monday, on which the American embassy in Israel officially moved to Jerusalem, as “nothing less than a great day for Israel.” He added that Israel “isn’t just 70 years old – it’s 70 years strong.” He specifically praised Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, for his speech at the ceremony for the embassy’s opening.
The only other speaker at the event besides Pence was Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, who said that President Donald Trump’s decision last week to quit the Iran nuclear deal put an end to a policy of “appeasing” the regime in Tehran. He also said that the Trump administration will make the U.S.-Israel relationship “greater than ever.” Pence and Dermer did not address the situation in Gaza in their remarks.
In the meantime, the unexpectedly poor showing of Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s prime minister, in parliamentary elections has dealt a blow to US influence in the country. It was a poor return for American backing for the Baghdad government’s drive to extirpate Islamic State and regain lost territory.
But the bigger loser may be Iran, whose allies in Iraq’s Shia militias known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces were pushed into second place by Moqtada al-Sadr, the veteran nationalist. Put simply, Sadr believes Iraqis should run Iraqi affairs – not Washington, not Tehran and not their proxies.
The pressing question now, for Iraqis and the wider Arab world, is whether the election marks the high watermark of Iranian influence that has grown steadily across the region since the 2003 US invasion. Recent events have blown large holes in the prevailing narrative of an inexorable Iranian advance. In short, have we reached “peak Iran”?
Evidence the tide may be turning emerged last week after Donald Trump, in effect, tore up the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sweeping sanctions.
Tehran’s fractured leadership seemed caught off-guard by the full force of the US president’s denunciation. It has failed so far to articulate a clear response.
Although European signatories will this week tell Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, they are determined to uphold the pact, this seems an empty promise. Faced with swingeing US treasury sanctions, private companies doing business in Iran will mostly walk away. There is little France, Germany or the EU can do to stop them.
By its relative silence, the UK – caught as ever between Washington and Europe – is already acknowledging this reality. Nor can Iran rely on Russia or China, also signatories to the deal, to bail it out. To fund its inefficient state-dominated economy, its ongoing interventions in Syria and Yemen and, for example, its ballistic missile programme, Iran needs the billions of dollars accruing from oil exports. This cash flow is in serious jeopardy.
Iran had a significant setback in another regional theatre last week, blundering into an Israeli trap. It began with a minor attack last Tuesday on Iranian military facilities at Kisweh, south of Damascus – the latest of several Israeli hit-and-run raids to which Iran had not until then responded. It proved the last straw.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards commanders opened fire on Israeli positions in the occupied Golan Heights. That gave Israel a looked-for pretext to launch a pre-planned assault on Iranian facilities all across Syria. It was a classic sucker punch. Iran’s troublesome military buildup appears to have been halted, at least for now.
Additional report from Guardian UK