At the start of the controversial Middle East Conference in Warsaw, a statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu causes a stir. In a video, he said that he wanted to promote „our common cause of war with Iran“ with Arab participants.
His office then deleted the video and weakened the statement. In the amended English translation, the word „war“ has been replaced by „combat“. However, in the deleted video, Netanyahu used the Hebrew word for „war.“
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Jawad Sarif responded derisively on Twitter: „We’ve always known Netanyahu’s fantasies, and now the world – and everyone at the Warsaw Circus – knows them too.“
Pompeo: „Murder campaign across Europe“
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of carrying out „a murder campaign across Europe“. He also described the threat of instability in the Middle East in the US TV news program PBS NewsHour as real. Iran has enormous influence on the troubled region, and not a good one. There are common interests between the Saudis, the Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan and the Israelis, all of whom understand that their nations are under threat from Iran.
In the conflicts in the Middle East, Iran and the West each support opposing parties. Iran is on the side of President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian war and on the side of the Shiite Houthi rebels in the Yemeni civil war. Among other things, the US accuses the leadership in Tehran of supporting terrorist groups and destabilizing the region.
Tehran has criticized the two-day conference hosted by the US and Poland from the outset as an anti-Iran conference. Some Western European countries are similar and have refused to send their foreign ministers to Warsaw. From Germany, instead of the chief diplomat Heiko Maas (SPD), the Minister of State Niels Annen (SPD) is there.
Conference initiated by the US
Annen joined representatives from 60 countries on Wednesday for dinner at the opening of the conference. Netanyahu said shortly before in the video recorded in Warsaw: „From here I am going to a meeting with 60 foreign ministers and ambassadors from countries around the world against Iran.“
He then added, „What’s important at this meeting, and it’s not a secret because there are many of them – is that it’s an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries sitting down with Israel about our common cause to advance a war with Iran. “ In the amended version, the last part of the sentence read: „… to advance our common concern of fighting Iran.“
The Israeli government press office had also initially distributed the original wording with the word „war“. Later the press office sent a „new edition“ of the communication with the term „fight“. The US had emphasized that the conference in Warsaw was not directed against Iran, but should deal with security and stability in the Middle East as a whole.
US Vice President Mike Pence (back view, left) welcomes Netanyahu
With Vice President Mike Pence and Foreign Minister Pompeo, the country is prominently represented in Warsaw. The US had initiated the conference. The Polish government agreed to be aligned despite diplomatic problems with Iran.
The Iranian government was not invited. Russia boycotted the meeting completely and Turkey sends media reports that at least no government representative. The presidents of these three countries, Hassan Rohani, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will meet in Sochi on the Black Sea on Thursday in a kind of counter-summit. They want to discuss the future of Syria there. Specifically, it concerns the planned constitutional committee for reforms in the civil war country and the situation in Idlib, the last large stronghold of the opposition groups.
Europe and the US are divided on how to deal with Iran. While Europeans are in favor of an agreement to prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb while strengthening economic cooperation with Iran, the United States is calling for sanctions.