Unofficial Israeli Reaction Unequivocal
When the US Treasury Department removed two Iranian companies – Mammut Industries and subsidiary Mammut Diesel – from its ‘Specially Designated Nationals’ list on 8 October, Israeli reaction was fierce. No Israeli government agency was prepared to comment, but senior officials privately called the American move “naïve,” stating it ignored reality.
Israeli sources indicate the two companies continue to play a leading role in Tehran’s ballistic missile programme, with one such source calling their removal from the ‘blacklist’ a “stupid decision.” Effectively, it seems to Israel that Washington’s decision to remove the two enterprises from the effects of sanctions – imposed by President Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign, aimed at forcing Tehran back to the negotiating table to resolve differences over its nuclear programme – actually helps the programme move ahead even faster.
A renowned expert in Middle Eastern affairs, Dr Mordechai Kedar, suggested that when two apparently unconnected events occur simultaneously, the chances are they are, in fact, closely connected. “The removal of the sanctions [was] declared in parallel to another American effort to bring Iran to the negotiation table,” he stated, adding that Washington sought to divert attention from the Iranian nuclear issue to be able to focus effort on the ‘big enemy’ – China.
In a paper published by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Ofira Seliktar and Farhad Rezaei state that one consequence of America’s defeat in Afghanistan has already become clear. “The inept and chaotic manner of the American withdrawal cemented Tehran’s view that President Joe Biden is a weakling who can be safely ignored.” they wrote.
Arie Egozi reporting from Tel Aviv for MON