TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - An Israeli official claimed the task force is not meant to topple the Iranian government as “no one thinks” that can be done, Israel’s Channel 10 news reported Tuesday without identifying the source.
Rather, the official said, the task force is aimed at exerting pressure on the Iranian government from the inside to force the authorities in Tehran to “change their behavior.”
According to the report, the task force has met several times over the last few months, and links its activities to recent anti-Iran attempts by Israeli and American officials on social media, including those by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton and his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat, had recently discussed in Washington the issue of turning up the heat on Tehran, the report added.
Earlier this month, a group of businesspeople in Tehran Grand Bazaar shut down their businesses in protest at the country’s economic issues as well as foreign exchange problems -- which are mainly rooted in Washington’s hostile policies toward Iran, particularly the re-imposition of economic sanctions on Iran after leaving the 2015 nuclear deal.
Soon afterwards, however, calm returned to the bazaar and shop owners opened their shops to resume activities.
Pompeo sought to link those guild-related protests in Tehran to the Iranian establishment’s policies, taking to Twitter to predict more protests in the Islamic Republic over what he claimed to be Iran’s nuclear agenda.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, however, hit back at Pompeo for his interventionist remarks, reminding the US of the negative impacts of its own destructive foreign policies on the lives of American people.
Netanyahu also posted a video on Twitter, attempting to highlight the water shortage in some parts of Iran and offering “help” over the issue.
The Israeli premier has recently posted four different videos on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter — translated to Farsi — in which he speaks to the Iranian people and encourages them to protest against the government.
Diplomatic war on agenda
Additionally on Tuesday, Israel’s Hadashot TV news reported that the Foreign Ministry had sent a document to regime’s diplomatic missions in number of countries detailing an anti-Iran plan in line with US President Donald Trump’s hostile decision in May to withdraw Washington from the 2015 Iran deal and re-impose the nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.
“President Trump’s exit from the nuclear deal and the American policy to create pressure on Iran correlate with Israel’s policy. Therefore, we must expand the pressure, with the understanding that is an opportune time in which Iran is in a sensitive period diplomatically and economically. Israeli aid may also lead to a change in Iran’s stance on its nuclear program,” read the document.
Israel’s anti-Iran plan would include the dispatching of diplomatic teams around the world, in particular to European states, engaging in anti-Iran activity at international institutions such as the UN, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank, and holding public events in Brussels, where the EU is based.
Back in May, Netanyahu hailed Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the JCPOA, claiming that the “disastrous” accord edged the region closer to war.
Tehran says it stays in the deal only if the European parties to the JCPOA give Iran practical assurances that its interests would remain intact when American sanctions return.
Europeans are currently working to finalize a package of proposals to help protect Iran’s dividends from the JCPOA and keep the landmark agreement alive.
Israeli army appoints Iran ‘project director’
Separately on Tuesday, Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot, the Israeli military's chief of staff, appointed Major General Nitzan Alon as the first “project director for Iran issues.”
Alon will deal with Iran’s nuclear program, coordinating intelligence gathering with other countries and countering Iran’s presence in Syria.
Alon is also tasked with coordination between the Israeli and American security establishments.
Previously, Mossad head Meir Dagan was responsible for the “Iran file,” but it was restricted to intelligence spheres.