During a gathering of diplomats on July 22, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened the United States with “the mother of all wars” if the Trump administration maintained its harsh economic sanctions against Iran. Rouhani added rather directly, “Mr. Trump, do not play with the lion’s tail, because you will regret it eternally.”
It didn’t take long before Mr. Trump shot back via Twitter.
While most of the media concentrated on Mr. Trump’s tweet, it is Iran’s rhetoric that is most concerning in this case.
The same day as the meeting, Rorhani doubled down on his previous threat to shut the Strait of Hormuz, a critical oil gateway, if pressure from U.S. sanctions scares off other buyers of Iranian oil. While the U.S. has said it would ensure that the strait would remain open, even a temporary closure of the waterway by Iran would send the oil price skyrocketing.
This would affect other nations more than it would the United States, especially the nations in Europe.
As increased U.S. sanctions on Iran come into effect on August 6 and then energy related sanctions in November, watch for Iran’s actions to become increasingly volatile as it tries to pressure Europe and others to maintain ties.
Europe has tried to help Iran by keeping the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal in effect, as well as searching for ways around the United States economic sanctions, but Iran may demand too much of the Europeans. The Bible indicates that, in the end, Iran will push Europe too far and will actually provoke a powerful response. For more on Iran’s threats and the danger it poses to Europe, please read our article “Iran Threatens ‘the Mother of All Wars.’”
Enforcing Its Red Lines, Israel Strengthens Its Position in Syria
While Israel has stayed out of the Syrian civil war, it is now becoming a key factor in the fight by having the will to enforce its long-standing red lines.
This is evidenced by the fact that, for the second time in three weeks, Israeli representatives met with a high-level Russian delegation regarding Syria. On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made an impromptu flight to Israel and offered the nation a deal whereby the Russians would ensure that Iranian forces fell back 100 kilometers from the Syrian border with Israel.
While some might have considered this quite the bargain, Israel said that it wasn’t good enough, and it is sticking to its demand that Iranian forces vacate Syria entirely.
Israel also demanded that all long-range missiles be removed from Syria, as well as the factories that produce many of them. Israel also requested border closures between Syrian and Lebanon, and asked that the governments of Syria and Iraq prevent Iranian weapons from being smuggled into Syria.
What’s interesting is that even with all these demands, the Russians listened. Russia is keen to see the Syrian war wind down while preserving its interests. Israel may jeopardize that outcome if it has to keep fighting back an encroaching Iran.
Over the past few years, Israel has conducted more than 100 raids into Syria to knock out Iranian weapons depots and weapon transfers.
Israel is clearly enforcing its red lines in Syria, also evidenced by Israel shooting down a Syrian fighter jet that strayed into Israeli airspace on July 24.
It’s in Russia’s interest to work to fulfill Israel’s desires when it comes to restraining Iran, because if Syria remains unstable, Russia’s gains there could be lost. But as time goes on, and as Iran continues to refuse to change its offensive posture in Syria, Russia will realize that it might not be able to play the middleman but have to pick sides.
Bible prophecy indicates in Psalm 83 that Iran will lose its ability to be the dominant player in Syria. While the Bible doesn’t say Iran will be pushed out by Russia, the fracturing relationship between the two countries, as pressured by Israel, could be a decisive factor in diminishing Iranian influence in Syria. For more on our long-standing forecast for Syria, please read Watch Jerusalem editor in chief’s Gerald Flurry’s article “How the Syrian Crisis Will End.”