Former Foreign Minister Urges Iran Not To Get Lured Into War With Israel

The former Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is urging his country not to become embroiled in a direct war with Israel or the US.

The best way to defend the Palestinian people was to avoid giving the West a reason to claim they are acting as a proxy of Iran, Zarif said, adding that Israel was trying to lure Iran into such a battle.

In two interventions that have led to charges of betrayal, and in a passionate defence of his views, Zarif said the Iranian people accepted the idea of defending what is right, but that this did not mean mobilising the army.

Referencing the cost of Iran’s military interventions, he claimed that the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, “seeks to drag Iran to the Gaza battlefield, while they have no proof of Iran’s involvement in the al-Aqsa storm,” he said, using Hamas’s name for the 7 October attacks in which the militant group killed approximately 1,200 people in southern Israel, leading to Israel’s military invasion of Gaza. “If such an event happens, ordinary people are the first victims in any war. I personally think that the people are tired of paying the cost. There is also no need for us to incur the cost.”

In two lengthy interventions, one to the Bar Association and another on the Telegram channel, he said he had gone public due to the non-stop barrage of letters calling on Iran to join the war.

At one point, in exasperation, he said: “If they drag Iran into the middle of the war, nothing will happen to any of the government officials. The bomb will fall on the people of Iran.

“So far, who has been harmed by the sanctions?” he asked, referring to sanctions imposed by the West in response to Iran’s nuclear weapons programme. “Those who earn a few million dollars a day or poor people?”

Apart from the economic cost, he said, the entry of Iran and Hezbollah into the war would be just what Israel wanted because Israel also wanted to drag the US into the conflict on the Israeli side.

He accused Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime inister, of “trying to somehow drag the war out and bring America in”. He said this knowledge of Israel’s intention was the reasoning behind the relatively non-escalatory words of the Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah since the conflict began.

Asked if he thought the process of normalisation between Israel and the Arab states would end, he said: “The process of normalisation may slow down, but it is unlikely to stop.” During Donald Trump’s presidency, the UAE and Bahrain signed bilateral normalisation agreements with Israel, and Saudi Arabia had been expected to follow suit before the outbreak of the Gaza war.

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The Guardian

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