President Donald Trump slashed open old wounds this weekend when he reminded Americans that his predecessor gave billions in cash to Iran to help put the finishing touches on the nuclear agreement. “Never gotten over the fact that Obama was able to send $1.7 billion dollars in CASH to Iran and nobody in Congress, the FBI or Justice called for an investigation,” he wrote on Sunday.
The tweet, which would initially appear to have come out of nowhere, actually may be connected to statements made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In a speech at the Munich Security Conference this weekend, Bibi said his nation would not hesitate to strike first against Iran if it was in Israel’s best interests to do so.
“Israel will not allow the regime to put a noose of terror around our neck,” Netanyahu said. “We will act if necessary not just against Iran’s proxies but against Iran itself. The unfortunate thing is that as ISIS compresses and Iran moves in, it is trying to establish this continuous empire surrounding the Middle East from the south in Yemen but also trying to create a land bridge from Iran to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza. This is a very dangerous development for our region.”
The remarks from Netanyahu drew predictable criticism from Iran. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, also in attendance in Munich, said the Israeli prime minister’s speech was nothing more than a “cartoonish circus, which does not even deserve a response.” He went further, accusing the U.S. of using the conference to “revive hysteria” against their nation.
Renewed tensions between Iran and Israel began last week when an anti-aircraft missile brought an Israeli military jet out of the sky. The jet was returning from a bombing mission in Syria where it unloaded its cargo on Iranian-backed positions. The new tensions will once again bring the controversial nuclear agreement back into the spotlight. Both Trump and Netanyahu have called for the agreement to either be scrapped altogether or negotiated, but the U.S.’s partners in the deal have refused to return to the table. Iran, of course, says they will not negotiate terms that give away any of the advantages they secured from the Obama administration.
Whether this is a temporary flare-up or something more remains to be seen, but what Netanyahu said is the truth: With their growing presence in Syria and Iraq, Iran clearly has ambitions that go well beyond its own theocratic borders. Combined with nuclear aspirations that will not be held in check forever (if they are even being held in check now), they could quickly become one of the greatest threats to global stability in the world.