Creating new perspectives since 2009

US seeks China’s help to urge Iran not to retaliate against Israel

April 12, 2024 at 12:49 pm

Palestine supporters gather in front of the United Nations (UN) Representative Office in Tehran to support the case filed by the Republic of South Africa against the actions of Israel to Gaza at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on January 14, 2024, in Tehran, Iran. [Fatemeh Bahrami – Anadolu Agency]

With growing concerns over an imminent Iranian retaliation against Israel’s aggression, the US has urged China to use its leverage against the Islamic Republic. Washington has asked Beijing and other countries, including Turkiye and Saudi Arabia, to urge Tehran not to launch a retaliatory attack on Israel following its air strike on the Iranian consulate in Syria last week.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to his counterparts, including Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, this week amid mounting concern in Washington of an imminent attack by Iran. “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,” said State Department spokesperson Matt Miller.

In clear violation of international law, the Israeli air strike last week targeted the Iranian consulate in Damascus, killing several of Iran’s top military commanders in Lebanon and Syria. This marked a significant regional escalation in the ongoing hostilities between Israel and Iran.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared the attack equivalent to an assault on Iranian territory, stating that Israel must be “punished”. Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian echoed this sentiment, stressing Iran’s right to “legitimate defence” against an “aggressor” that flouted international law.

In response, US President Joe Biden expressed his “ironclad” support for the apartheid state, emphasising that the US would do “all we can” to protect the security of its greatest ally. A senior US official revealed that Iran had delivered a message to Washington after the Damascus strike, prompting a warning from the US to Tehran “to not use the strike as a pretext to further escalate in the region or attack US facilities or personnel.”

Axios reported yesterday that Amir-Abdollahian conveyed to his German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock, that while Iran is determined to respond to Israel’s bombing of its consular building in Damascus, it will do so in an “appropriate” and limited manner. This information comes from a source with direct knowledge of the call, which was initiated by Baerbock at the request of the Biden administration, who is said to be deeply concerned about the potential for regional escalation.

The source added that although Amir-Abdollahian indicated Iran’s response would be limited during the call, the scope of what Iran considers a limited response remains unclear. Baerbock relayed a message from the US, cautioning Amir-Abdollahian not to underestimate the extent of Israel’s potential response to an attack originating from Iranian soil.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said Amir-Abdollahian emphasised to his German counterpart that Israel had breached international law and the Vienna Convention with its attack, and that “legitimate self-defence with the aim of punishing the aggressor is a necessity.” Despite this, the Iranian foreign minister’s assurance of a limited response suggests that Tehran is seeking to avoid a significant escalation in the region.

US supports Israel against any threats by Iran, its proxies: Blinken