A cargo of long-range rockets and mortars intercepted by Israeli forces in the Red Sea was put under international scrutiny this week as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of being behind the shipment.
An address given by Netanyahu Monday on the contents of the shipment, accusing Western powers of clinging to the illusion of a “changed Iran,” was reported mostly verbatim in many Western news outlets – such as The Telegraph, whose Robert Tait termed it “stage-managed.”
Al-Monitor, however, took a more analytical (not to mention critical) tone, saying the fuss over the Klos-C ship had the “collateral benefit, and perhaps actually the main benefit,” of “the disappearance of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict …. from the top of the news.”
Meanwhile in Tehran, the semi-official PressTV reported that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif had held “constructive” talks with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, discussing ways to enhance Iranian-European ties, but sweeping under the (Persian) rug the pesky long-range missile cargo in the room (as well as hangings… and the aid to Assad…).
As a matter of fact, Iran just went on and on about nuclear rights and dignity this weekend, reserving its cynicism for Israel’s naval interception. “An Iranian ship carrying arms for Gaza. Captured just in time for annual AIPAC anti Iran campaign. Amazing Coincidence! Or same failed lies,” Zarif tweeted.
But over at Forbes, Claudia Rosett commented, “If Zarif is troubled by the timing, his real quarrel ought to be with his Iranian cohorts who dispatched the weapons. Instead, he’s trying to cover for them — turning the arms seizure into a game of they-said we-said.”
His reaction, she said, was a “dark portent” for the nuclear talks: if Zarif knew the shipment was en route to the Red Sea even as he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Western leaders in Vienna last month, “that’s damning. If he was clueless, that’s alarming. Which is it?”