Last week’s decision by the US president to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital is bound to backfire, hastening the demise of the Jewish state and banding Muslims together, Iran’s defense minister has said. And should conflict break out in the region, Washington will have to bear responsibility, General Amir Hatami said.
“(Trump‘s) move will hasten the destruction of the Zionist regime [Israel] and will double unity among Muslims,” Brigadier General Hatami told a meeting of senior military officials Monday, as cited by various Iranian media outlets.
Washington’s “anti-security decision,” which has drawn widespread condemnation from Muslim nations and the international community, is ratcheting up tensions in the region, he said. Denouncing the move as “provocative and unwise,” Hatami said the declaration could possibly mean the Middle East descending into bloodshed.
“The occupying regime of Israel knows the illegitimate actions of the US government will bring no change to Al-Quds [Jerusalem] as the Palestinian people and the freedom-loving people of the world will become more determined than ever to become united and stand up for liberation of Jerusalem and the land of Palestine,” the general said, as cited by the Mehr News Agency.
While slamming Tel Aviv and Washington for taking unilateral steps in the face of world opposition, Hatami pledged support to the Palestinians, noting that Iran’s has always stood against their oppression and for “stability and security of the region.”
The general went on to accuse “global arrogance” – possibly referring to the West – of sowing discord between regional powers and fomenting a brewing conflict between Shia and Sunni Muslims to create “permanent” hostility.
“The global Arrogance is after adventurism and plots against the regional nations now that it is defeated in Syria and Iraq,” he said.
Earlier, the controversial move by Trump was condemned by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who called it a sign of “weakness and incompetence” on the part of Washington. Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, considers it a “new conspiracy” against the Islamic world.
Iran has also been increasingly at odds with both the US and Israel over their attempts to dismantle the landmark nuclear deal between Iran and six major world powers. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action seeks to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been calling the landmark agreement a “historic mistake” and a threat to Israel’s existence since it was secured in 2015, the US stance on the agreement has changed dramatically with the election of Trump who has vowed to scrap or amend the “worst deal ever negotiated.”
In October, Trump decertified the nuclear accord, also referred to as the P5+1, and slapped Iran’s Revolutionary Guard with new sanctions despite numerous assurances by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran has been in full compliance. Tehran has argued that if the US moves to withdraw from the agreement, its reputation as a trustworthy partner would be ruined. It further criticized US threats to withdraw, terming it as “impulsive.”
As was the case with Trump’s attacks on the nuclear deal, his decision to follow up on his pre-election pronouncement to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has also raised concerns in Europe. Washington’s European allies, France and Germany, were alarmed by the decision, with Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warning that it could result in a new escalation in the lingering conflict.
The decision also sparked indignation and protests in the Muslim world. Armed Palestinian group Hamas, has meanwhile called for a new uprising against Israel, a call which was supported by Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah.