We noted Monday that just hours after President Trump formally designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization, Iran’s foreign ministry responded in kind, immediately put forward a bill placing US Central Command on a list of organizations designated as terrorists, akin to Daesh.
A number of analysts were quick to point out how this sets the stage for further unnecessary tit-for-tat escalation inevitably making things messier for US forces in the Middle East, and significantly increases the changes of direct war. Soon after the White House’s IRGC designation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked President Trump in a tweet, the Hebrew version of which bragged it was all the prime minister’s idea.
Netanyahu said in the Hebrew-only tweet that he was glad Trump “answered another one of my important requests” which will keep the world safe from Iran. It’s unclear what the prime minister mean from “another” of his requests, but less than two weeks ago Trump made a dramatic decisions to overturn decades of official US policy and bestow formal recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights after receiving a “quickie” history lesson.
It’s well known that Netanyahu had personally lobbied for weeks and months for that decision, and on Monday appeared to be touting both as his initiative on the eve of Israel’s election.
According to The Intercept’s translation the statement said: “Thank you, my dear friend, President Donald Trump,” Netanyahu tweeted in Hebrew, “for answering another one of my important requests.”
Netanyahu is taking credit for Trump's decision to designate the Revolutionary Guard as terrorists. "Thank you for responding to another important request of mine," Bibi says.
He got the Golan 2 weeks ago and now this 1 day before Israel's election. https://t.co/PAvX22o4Y5
— Raf Sanchez (@rafsanchez) April 8, 2019
Likely the statement was not made in English in order to avoid making President Trump look weak in front of US political leaders and the American public, while at the same bolstering (in Hebrew to Israel’s domestic audience) Netanyahu’s ability to immediately make Washington bend to Israel’s interests.
Though Trump has clearly thrown his full support behind a Netanyahu victory, it doesn’t bode well for “America First” having the Israeli leader essentially bragging that Washington policy can be dictated from Jerusalem.
Unlike his English tweet simply saying thanks, Netanyahu reveals in Hebrew that Trump agreed to designate Iran’s IRGC as a terrorist organization ”as another important request of mine”.
— Dan Cohen (@dancohen3000) April 8, 2019
On the further significance of the statement, The Intercept observed:
Joe Dyke, an Agence France-Presse correspondent, pointed out that Netanyahu omitted the claim that Trump’s move was made at his request in a subsequent tweet in English. That left the prime minister open to the charge often leveled at Palestinian leaders by Israelis, that they placate the international community in English and then say something quite different for domestic consumption in their native tongue.
A(nother) misguided election-eve gift to Netanyahu. A(nother) dangerous U.S. misadventure in the region.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) April 8, 2019
Israelis head to the polls to elect a prime minister on Tuesday, and one key feature of Netanyahu’s campaign — lately beset by no less than three corruption charges as prime minister — has been his warm relations with the American president and close cooperation.