Whereas NBC chose to emphasize the fact that Zarif had claimed once again that nuclear negotiations with the P5+1 group of nations were “very close” to reaching an agreement, Breitbart points out that the same interview had challenged Zarif to respond to Iranian rhetoric calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.
Zarif initially tried to deny the presence of institutionalized anti-Semitism in the Iranian regime, but he also reported agreement with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that Israel itself “should be annihilated.”
Also on Thursday, Al Arabiya levied criticism from a very different perspective while looking at the likely effects of Netanyahu’s speech earlier in the week. The author, Joyce Karam suggested that the speech may have actually had a detrimental effect on US congressional action on the Iran nuclear issue by making it more partisan.
Throughout much of the negotiating process, the vast majority of Republicans and a large number of Democrats have been in agreement on the need for a more firm approach to dealing with Iran, and on the need for congressional oversight for the president’s decision-making. But following the Israeli Prime Minister’s speech some new discord arose as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnnell attempted to push forward the voting on a bill to grant that oversight, raising some objections from Democrats.
But even if this partisanship has indeed been amplified by Netanyahu, Al Arabiya nonetheless gives him credit for increasing awareness and prompting action in other areas, namely by focusing the first half of his speech upon Iran’s dangerous regional ambitions and its meddling in other countries’ affairs.
In this way, Netanyahu exposed what Karam describes as President Obama’s “core weakness in dealing with Iran,” his tendency to narrowly focus on the task of securing a nuclear agreement while apparently ignoring Iran’s support for sectarianism, global terrorism, and its pursuit of ever-greater regional power.
But Netanyahu’s speech aside, that regional role is increasingly clear, with Tehran even personally acknowledging it in some instances, in contrast to a usual policy of denying the role of Iranian money and Revolutionary Guards strategists behind the action of Islamist forces in surrounding countries.
This has certainly been the policy of the Islamic Republic with respect to the rise of the Houthi militia in Yemen, which many independent analysts have determined to be backed by Iran, contrary to its denials. And on Thursday the Associated Press reported that Iran had taken the rare step of actually acknowledging at least one operation in Yemen, as it announced that it had secured the release of an Iranian ambassador who had been held there for 19 months.
The presence of Iranian and Iran-sponsored forces in the other countries of the region is arguably a greater concern for Saudi Arabia and its allies than even the Iran nuclear issue. The Islamic Republic’s regional meddling is, after all, occurring right now and appears to be virtually ignored, if not outright encouraged, by the United States government.
A report by Reuters suggests that this anxiety may be leading the Arab states to consider plans for confronting and standing up against Iran. Recently-crowned Saudi King Salman has reportedly been in talks with the countries of the region, working to allay differences on relatively minor issues and encourage focus on the unique threats posed by Iran and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Some commentators have suggested that Netanyahu’s speech on Tuesday may have been partly aimed at Middle Eastern Arabs. Whatever the case, it seems that the Arabs and the Israelis are indeed in agreement on the need to focus their attention on Iran’s role in the region, especially insofar as they feel that the US is not doing so on their behalf.