At the recent meeting of 62 world leaders in Warsaw entitled “the Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East”, despite the fact that the meeting was touted as a Middle East peace summit, Iran became the focus of discussion even though this was how the meeting was touted by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz:
“This meeting — bringing together more than 60 nations and representatives from the European Union and NATO — is historic for showing our seriousness and unity of purpose. We will discuss violent instability in Syria and Yemen, as well as efforts to achieve a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Further sessions will feature discussions on missile proliferation, energy security, emerging cyber-based threats, counterterrorism, and humanitarian aid. Our broad goal is to hear every nation’s unscripted, candid ideas for how to make progress on these issues, and more. As our fellow foreign ministers know, multilateral meetings are often pro-forma exercises in giving prepared statements. Not this one. Our hope is that real conversations will drive real action.”
In the op-ed by Pompeo and Czaputowicz, the topic of Iran was only very briefly mentioned here:
“We expect each nation to express opinions that reflect its own interests. Disagreements in one area should not prohibit unity in others. In the past, for example, our two nations have taken distinct positions on the Iran nuclear deal. Despite these strong differences of opinion, the US-Poland relationship remains strong. This cooperation is a model for what we hope all countries attending the Ministerial will commit to. Establishing a consensus on many — and perhaps most — issues is more than possible.”
Here is the outline of what was to be accomplished in the meeting from the U.S. Department of State website:
“The Secretary will provide an update on the situation in Syria and discuss other U.S. priorities in the region, including concerns regarding Iran’s destructive activities.”
While, according to the State Department and Secretary Pompeo, Iran was allegedly not going to be the focus of the meeting, this is what Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters upon his departure from Israel:
“This is a very important international conference in Warsaw. The focus is Iran. This brings together Israel, the US, and countries in and beyond the region. I think that the holding of this conference in which Israel, the US, various countries around the world and from the region sit down in one place, in one hall and discuss one topic which, in my opinion, is the most important for our national security, is a very important achievement.”
In addition, a tweet by Netanyahu proclaiming the importance of the event stated the following:
“From here I am going to a meeting with 60 foreign ministers and representatives of countries around the world against Iran. What is important is the encounter, and a meeting not secretly or secretly, because there are many. This is in fact an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries that sit with Israel to advance the common interest of a war in Iran.”
Here is the tweet in Hebrew:
The English language tweet was quickly deleted (but not before the internet remembered it) and was replaced with this one which was somewhat more oblique when it came to declaring war with Iran:
Here is what appeared on the website of the Israeli Prime Minister the day before the meeting in Warsaw took place:
Here’s what he had to say about the conference in general and the pro-Israeli/anti-Iran stance that was taken by his fellow world leaders at the meeting, be they Arab or other:
The European Union and the United States share the conviction about the role of Iran could and should play in the Middle East and in the wider world, but we are concerned about possible results of Iran’s nuclear program as well as the unconstructive role of the country in the region. We univocally condemn intolerable actions of Iran beyond its own territory, including Europe, which met with additional EU sanctions.
The differences between us may be about methods. The European Union believes that maintaining the peaceful character of the Iranian nuclear program calls for keeping the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA, in place. The United States abandoned this agreement and imposed sanctions. But in our opinion, in the opinion of Poland, it is only through joint actions in the framework of trans-Atlantic community or, more broadly, the global community of democratic states that we can effectively limit negative trends in the Middle East.”
Interestingly enough, even though Russia is a key player in the Middle East since its involvement with the Syrian civil war, it was not planning to attend. It is also interesting to note that Turkey, Qatar, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority as well as Iran and Iranian opposition groups were not invited to attend or turned down the opportunity to attend.
Obviously, Benjamin Netanyahu believed that the focus of the high level Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East was getting Arab nations onside with the goal of waging war against Israel’s existential enemy, Iran. In contrast, while we don’t know what went on behind closed doors, it certainly appears that there was no agreement between Europe and the United States about the methods that should be used to punish Iran for its so-called breaches of the JCPOA and that Israel stood along with the United States as the only two major proponents of an all-out war against Iran.
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