The West urges China to intervene with Iran amid fears of a direct attack on Israel

Iranians attend a funeral procession in Tehran, held for seven Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members killed in a strike in Syria.

Hossein Beris | Afp | Getty Images

Western diplomats have mounted pressure on China to prevent Iran from escalating tensions in the Middle East with a direct retaliatory strike against Israel.

U.S. Secretary Antony Blinken earlier this week spoke with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and other counterparts in Turkey and Saudi Arabia amid rising fears of retaliation by Tehran against Israel.

Blinken asked the foreign ministers to “make clear that escalation is not in anyone’s interest, and that countries should urge Iran not to escalate,” U.S. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said Thursday.

“We have also engaged with European allies and partners over the past few days and urged them as well to send a clear message to Iran that escalation is not in Iran’s interest, it’s not in the region’s interest, and it’s not in the world’s interest.”

Germany, whose Chancellor Olaf Scholz is visiting China next week, has also been in contact with Beijing over the issue of Iran, where China has influence, according to a Reuters report on Friday citing German officials.

U.S. and European officials are treading a fine line with China, denouncing the country as a trade risk while also urging it to use its considerable diplomatic sway with countries isolated by Western sanctions.

Beijing is a critical trade partner of Russia and Iran as one of the last recipients of their oil exports. The three countries are also members of the China-led BRICS coalition of emerging markets.

Iran strikes back

Israel’s war against the Tehran-backed Palestinian Hamas began in October, following a terror attack by the militant group. Israel has also been trading blows with factions in Lebanon, Yemen and Syria, which it views as Iranian proxies.

Israel’s close ally Washington has repeatedly warned Tehran against interfering in the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

For its part, Tehran insists it does not direct the militant groups in their offensives, but has previously praised the Hamas terror attack of Oct. 7.

Tensions spiked at the start of this month, when seven Iranian military advisers, including senior officials, were killed in a suspected Israeli strike on Iran’s consulate in the Syrian capital of Damascus on April 1. Israel has not claimed responsibility for the incident.

On Wednesday, Iran’s leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel “should be punished and will be punished” for the Damascus killings.

“Consulates and embassies of any country are regarded as the soil of that country. When they attack our consulate, it means that they have attacked our soil”, he said, according to Iran’s state-owned Islamic Republic News Agency.

In an apparent response, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on the day: “If Iran attacks from its territory – Israel will react and attack in Iran,” according to a Google translation.

U.K. and Australian foreign ministers on Thursday urged Iran not to deepen the conflict.

“Today I made clear to Foreign Minister [Hossein] Amir-Abdollahian that Iran must not draw the Middle East into a wider conflict,” Britain’s David Cameron said Thursday on social media. “I am deeply concerned about the potential for miscalculation leading to further violence.”

Australia’s Penny Wong also said she had urged Iran to “use its influence in the region to promote stability.”

Amir-Abdollahian noted that he had also spoken with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and responded to his three counterparts on social media.

He said that when Israel “tramples on the international law and Vienna Conventions and violates the immunity of diplomatic agents and premises, and the UNSC [UN Security Council] is incapable to issue a statement in condemnation of the terrorist attack on the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, legitimate defense with the objective of punishing the aggressor becomes a necessity.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the statement.

‘Ironclad’ ties

Any direct attack by Iran on Israeli soil would likely heighten the international impact of the Gaza conflict, which has rippled into markets by way of higher oil prices and trade disruptions caused by Yemeni attacks in the Red Sea.

The Israel Defense Forces, Israeli Foreign Ministry and U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to CNBC requests for comment on the possibility of such an offensive — which risks an Israeli response.

“We have determined a simple rule: Whoever harms us, we will harm them. We are prepared to meet all of the security needs of the State of Israel, both defensively and offensively,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after a visit to the Tel Nof Air Base, according to comments released by his office on Thursday.

Washington has expressed its solidarity with Israel, although support looks to have slightly waned after Israeli strikes killed seven humanitarian aid workers in the Gaza Strip, in what Israel later qualified as a “grave mistake.”

U.S. President Joe Biden said Thursday that Iran was “threatening a large and significant attack on Israel.”

“As I told Prime Minister Netanyahu, our commitment to Israeli security against these threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad,” he added.

By info

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *