Mossad chief addressed Iran’s protests and growing influence in region, US-Israel relations and Syria; Cohen: We are seeing that Iran is spending more and more on security in order to push its agenda of spreading its influence throughout the Middle East.
Chief of the Mossad Yossi Cohen addressed developments in Iran and the Islamic Republic’s “dramatically extremist ambitions” in the region, reporting that the Mossad “have eyes, ears and even more inside Iran.”
In a rare speech during a convention of Israel’s Finance Ministry in Jerusalem Tuesday, Cohen addressed Iran’s “proxies and influence in the region, Iran’s protests and government, US-Israel relations and Syria.
On the ongoing protests and demonstrations throughout Iran, Cohen said “Iranian citizens protest because of the economic situation with the expectation that President Hassan Rouhani would improve the economy. That’s what brought them to the streets.” On whether the protests would lead to a “social revolution in Iran,” he stated, “that’s something that could perhaps happen in the future” referring to the violence Iranians are suffering from the government as “facing forces that are no less than death squads, against anybody who tries to raise their head…”
On Iran’s proxies and influence in the region, he reported “we are seeing that Iran is spending more and more on security in order to push its agenda of spreading its influence throughout the Middle East.”
In late December, Syrian rebel forces reported that the Syrian army demanded surrender as its forces moved closer to Mt. Hermon on Sunni rebel strongholds, reporting heavy airstrikes and civilian casualties. In a Reuters report, a rebel official confirmed that Iran was focused on creating strategic points on the border with Israel, stating “Iranian-backed militias are trying to consolidate their sphere of influence all the way from southwest of Damascus to the Israeli border.”
Israel again carried out numerous strikes in Syria overnight, reportedly targeting long range missiles intended for Hezbollah.
Cohen reported increased understanding from the Trump Administration on Israel’s security challenges in the region, reporting “We see a good change that takes Israel’s security interests into account and in doing so will help our struggle to change the direction of Iranian influence [in the region].”
On Monday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif echoed previous accusations from President Rouhani that the United States and Israel are influencing the demonstrations for their interests. Zariff stated, “Some countries tried to misuse the recent incidents… to create a secure environment for itself at the expense of creating insecurity among its neighbors,” warning that these efforts would “only backfire”.
Also on Monday, Iran’s top nuclear official and president of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran warned the United States against leaving the nuclear deal, again threatening to resume its nuclear program if the agreement is “violated”. He reportedly warned that if the U.S. were to not “honor the agreement”, Iran would “adopt measures that can affect the current trend of Iran’s cooperation with the agency,” referring to the nuclear deal.
During a Mossad ceremony in October of 2017, Cohen reiterated that Israel’s greatest threat and the Mossad’s priority is Iran as it continues its military and nuclear efforts. He stated at the time “The objectives of the Mossad are clear: Iran continues to hold onto its vision of attaining significant nuclear capabilities, so that it will attain nuclear military capabilities.”
Photo: Screenshot from ceremony, 2017