The regional threat posed by Iran is growing, Mossad chief Yossi Cohen told Israeli cabinet ministers on Sunday, according to media reports.
The Middle East is “changing for the worse,” the Hebrew news site Walla quoted Cohen as saying. “Israel is identifying a presence not only of Iran and Hezbollah, but also of Shiite forces, that are not Iranian, from all over the world that are making their way to the region, and our number one mission is to stop this.”
The remarks, Walla reported, was made during a periodic briefing provided by the head of the Mossad to the cabinet. One senior official who attended the meeting told Walla that Iran topped the agenda.
Referring the ceasefire deal brokered by the US and Russia last month regarding southern Syria, Cohen reportedly said that Israel’s demand that Iranian and other Shiite forces leave the area had not been accepted. Diplomatic efforts on the matter were continuing, he added, but “Israel’s aspirations have not yet been internalized by the American side.”
In a statement about Cohen’s briefing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the Mossad chief “emphasized that the main process taking place in the Middle East today is Iran’s expansion” — via its own forces and local proxies — in countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.
“In places where the presence of ISIS is decreasing, Iran is working to fill the void,” Netanyahu’s office quoted Cohen as saying.
Cohen also informed ministers that Iran had not abandoned its goal of becoming a nuclear-threshold state and the Iranian economy had been growing since the July 2015 nuclear deal agreed to by the Tehran regime and six world powers.
This, Netanyahu’s office said, was “clear proof that the basic assumptions of the deal with Iran were wrong from the start.”
Israel, Netanyahu’s office continued, was not obligated by international agreements signed by Iran and would continue to act “in a variety of ways” to protect itself from the threats it faces.
(C) 2017 . The Algemeiner . Barney Breen-Portnoy