14 February 2019   Leave a comment

The US is hosting a “Ministerial To Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East” in Poland which is being attended by almost 60 states. The meeting is designed to foster multilateral perspectives on the security questions facing the Middle Eastern states and is specifically structured to encourage dialogue between Israel and Arab states. But it seems clear from the speeches thus far that the meeting is primarily designed to focus on what the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel consider to be the Iranian threat to peace in the Middle East. The question and answer period between the press and US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, highlights how central the Iranian issue is to the US:

QUESTION: Secretary Pompeo, does this summit deals with ways to combat or to fight Iran, like Prime Minister Netanyahu said yesterday?

“SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, look, you can’t achieve peace and stability in the Middle East without confronting Iran. It’s just not possible. They’re a malign influence in Lebanon, in Yemen, in Syria, in Iraq, the three H’s: the Houthis, Hamas, and Hizballah. These are real threats; there are others as well. But you can’t get peace in the Middle East without pushing back against Iran.”

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu tweeted a inflammatory message about Iran and US Vice President Pence delivered a speech in which he identified Iran as the “greatest” threat to peace in the Middle East. Vice President Pence also attacked the European states which are trying to maintain economic relations with Iran as long as it adheres to the nuclear agreement. The Washington Post characterized Pence’s speech:

“Pence sounded incredulous and angry as he called the European banking workaround a scheme designed to ‘break American sanctions against Iran’s murderous revolutionary regime.’

“‘It’s an ill-advised step that will only strengthen Iran, weaken the E.U. and create still more distance between Europe and America,’ he said. Pence warned that U.S. sanctions against Iran, already characterized as the toughest ever, ‘will get tougher still’ if Iran does not change its behavior and foreign policy in the region.

“The convening of the conference has been a cause of tension from the start, and efforts by the United States to assuage the concerns of European allies did little to improve the situation.

“Major European powers were not consulted before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the conference last month. The agenda was broadened after allies suggested that the Trump administration would end up showcasing division rather than unity over Iran, European and U.S. diplomats said. The United States and Poland also shelved tentative plans to circulate an agreement that conference attendees would all sign, two diplomats said.”

It is very difficult to think that such harsh words about the most important allies of the US would accomplish much. Sovereign states do not usually respond well to such open criticism.

The meeting is a mixed bag of representation. Many European states sent low-level diplomats and the Palestinians, the Iranians, the Turks, the Lebanese, the Chinese, and the Russians are not attending the meeting.

Posted February 14, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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