Still reeling from Israel’s successful strikes on its Syrian bases, Iran faces important decisions about its nuclear program.

Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined 12 steps Iran must take before the U.S. would enter into a new nuclear deal with the country. The same steps are necessary, Pompeo said, to avoid what he called “the strongest sanctions in history when we are complete.”

During his speech at the Heritage Foundation, Pompeo called out Iran for a long list of “malign activities” and demanded that Iran permanently abandon its nuclear program, halt missile tests, release American hostages and withdraw military forces from Syria. And those are just four of the steps.

“Iran will be forced to make a choice: either fight to keep its economy off life support at home or keep squandering precious wealth on fights abroad. It will not have the resources to do both,” Pompeo concluded.

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The day after Pompeo’s speech, the U.S. sanctioned five Iranians who are either members of – or have ties to – Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards. The five provide Yemen’s Houthi terrorists with technical expertise that has allowed them to launch missiles into Saudi Arabia. The sanctions freeze any assets the five may have in U.S. jurisdictions and prohibit Americans from any transactions with them.

The U.S. may even sanction any company anywhere in the world that does business with Iran, according to National Security Adviser John Bolton.

 

Peace is a Multi-Faceted Effort

Iran promptly rejected Pompeo’s 12 steps. But, between steps taken by Russia and Israel, Iran may already be feeling squeezed.

The Jerusalem Post this week quoted a Syrian opposition newspaper as saying, “The commander of the Syrian Air Force has decided Syria will no longer allow Iranian-backed Shi’ite factions to use its bases to store ammunition and host fighters.” The report gave credit to stepped-up Israeli air attacks against Iran in Syria. The move was reported as “the first step in a process leading to a Syrian demand that Iranian-backed forces leave Syria.”

Also this week, Israeli media reported that Israel and Russia reached an agreement to keep Iran away from Israel’s southern border. The Jerusalem Post reported that U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield “has been working a deal” for all Syrian and non-Syrian militias to withdraw from Israel’s border with Jordan. The U.S. and Russia would form a “mechanism to control the implementation of the agreement,” the report said.

Israel will accept the return of Syrian regime soldiers to the border on the Golan Heights, The Times of Israel reported on Tuesday, “in exchange for Russia guaranteeing there are no Iranian or Hezbollah forces in the area.” The report said the agreement stipulates that all foreign troops will leave Syria.

Israel, however, would retain the right to continue its military action against Iran in Syria, as it did this weekend when it shot down missiles originating from the Gaza Strip.

Israel and Iran may have engaged in indirect talks through Jordanian messengers agreeing to the plans between Israel, Russia and the U.S., according to The Jerusalem Post. However, Iran denies that talks took place.

 

Is Peace Imminent?

Much must happen before peace could overtake the entire Middle East.

Pompeo’s 12 steps for Iran look like a single cog in a wheel rolling toward what could result in more stability in Israel’s neighbor Syria – after eight years of civil war. Syria’s instability has allowed Iran and its proxies to bring Israel dangerously close to all-out war with Iran, a country intent on gaining nuclear weapons to destroy Israel first – and then the U.S.

While Russia is not a U.S. ally, it continues to contribute to a coordinated effort to de-escalate what has been an increasingly violent few months among Israel, Iran, and Iran’s proxies in Syria.

No, peace is not imminent. But de-escalation of violence from Iran and its proxies might be.

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Prayer Points:

  • Praise God for recent steps taken by several nations to de-escalate the violence in Syria and to bring stability back to that country after eight years of civil war
  • Pray for wisdom and calm minds to reign worldwide in continued talks to stop Iran from its efforts to create nuclear weapons that could destroy Israel
  • Pray that the Gospel message will continue to reach Jewish people in Israel and around the world through the ongoing efforts of Jewish Voice.

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