Munich Security Conference, 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Iranian Drone (MSC, Preiss, 2018)

Netanyahu Compares Iran to Nazi Germany

Israel and Iran Clash at Munich Conference

Holding up a piece of wreckage from an Iranian drone, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Iran was on a course for war. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Netanyahu compared Iran to the Nazie regime.

Iran openly declares its intention to annibilate Israel

“There are also some striking similarities [with Nazi Germany],” Netanyahu said. “Iran openly declares its intention to annihilate Israel with its six million Jews. Iran seeks to dominate our region, the Middle East, and seeks to dominate the world through aggression and terror.”

Iran’s Emerging Nuclear Threat

Netanyahu’s warning was stark: “Once armed with nuclear weapons,” he continued, “Iran’s aggression will be unchecked and it will encompass the entire world. Look at what they are doing now, before they have nuclear weapons.”

Netanyahu also warned that Iran is just years away from having a nuclear arsenal.

​”The nuclear agreement with Iran has brought the countdown, has begun the countdown to an Iranian nuclear arsenal in little more than a decade. And the sanctions relief that the deal provided has not moderated Iran. It’s not made them more moderate internally, and it’s not make them more moderate externally.”

Netanyahu drew attention to Iran’s de-stabilizing of the Middle East through proxies: Shi’ite militias in Iraq, Houthies in Yemen, Hezbolla in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

Netanyahu repeated his warning that Iran is seeking to build a continguous empire that would link Tehran to Tartus and the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean.

Iranian Drone Shot Down Over Israel

As evidence of what he called Iranian “brazenness”, Netanyahu held up a piece of wreckage from an Iranian drone shot down over Israel, saying: Iran “sent a drone into Israeli territory, violating Israel’s sovereignty, threatening our security. We destroyed that drone and the control center that operated it from Syria, and when our places were fired upon, Israel destroyed Syrian anti-aircraft batteries.”

Israel shot down a military spy drone near its border on Saturday, according to Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The Israeli military shot down a reconnaissance drone using a Patriot interceptor missile as it crossed into the Golan demilitarized zone, heading toward Israel.

“The State of Israel regards with utmost seriousness any violation of its sovereignty and will respond with force to any provocation,” Lieberman said.

Speaking directly to Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, he asked rhetorically, “Mr Zarif, do you recognize this? You should. It’s yours. You can take back with you a message to the tyrants of Tehran: Do not test Israel’s resolve.”

Just hours before Netanyahu spoke, Israel responded to a bomb attack that had wounded four Israeli soldiers by carrying out a number of strikes against Palestinian positions in Gaza. Two Palestinians were killed by tank fire.

Israel Prepared to Go to War with Iran

We will act without hesitation to defend ourselves.

Netanyahu issued his own threat. “Israel,” he said, “will not allow Iran’s regime to put a noose of terror around our neck. We will act without hesitation to defend ourselves. And we will act, if necessary, not just against Iran’s proxies that are attacking us, but against Iran itself.”

His comparison with the Nazi regime was also a comparison with how the rest of the world had reacted to that threat at the time. By seeking appeasement with Hitler, Europe had paved the way for the Second World War. Speaking against appeasement with Iran, he said “We can stop this dangerous regime. We can roll back its aggression and by doing so, create a more peaceful, a more prosperous and a more secure world for our region and for our future.”

Iran’s Plan for a Proxy Empire

We want a strong region.

Unsurprisingly, Zarif dismissed the Israeli prime minister’s speech, revealling instead Iran’s plans for a proxy empire in the Middle East:

“Iran believes that our security in the Persian Gulf requires a fresh regional security architecture. We believe in, and have proposed, creating what we call a strong region, rather than a strong man in the region. And you’ve got to notice the difference. We want a strong region. We do not want to be the hegemon in the region, as we believe the era of hegemony is long passed,” he said.

During a panel discussion on regional security, Zarif attempted to persuade the audience that the nuclear agreement was the centrepoint of future peace in the region: “I believe it is absolutely critical for Europe, for the world, to make sure we hold on to this agreement, because to go backwards, we know what the world looks like without the Iran nuclear agreement. It’s not a better place,” he said.

Instead of refuting Netanyahu’s claims, Zarif underlined them. While Israel is not fooled, it remains to be seen whether the rest of the world will learn the lessons of the past.

Image: Munich Security Conference, 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Iranian Drone (MSC, Preiss, 2018; edited by and for Warfare.Today).