The former CIA director, General David Petraeus, attended the tenth conference of The Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv and provided a glimpse into security issues facing the new administration in Washington. "The US must prepare for action against Iran, if necessary," he declared on Tuesday.
Petraeus, who was one of the final candidates for the new US Secretary of Defense, may not have gotten the coveted position but is still considered close to the new president, with whom he had many conversations over the past year that helped shape Trump's defensive strategy.
In conversation with the head of the Institute for National Security Studies, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, Petraeus praised Trump and his positive impact on security permutations in Europe. "Following his declarations, the Europeans, for the first time, want to invest more in security", he said. "His conduct may have good ramifications. I think he is very pragmatic, and now he has to back up the slogans with policies".
Trump is expected to host Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington next month, when it is already clear that loaded subjects like the annexation of Judea and Samaria and the Iran nuclear deal, to which both have objected, shall be discussed.
Petraeus commented, "I told Trump that we need to repeat what we want – for Iran not to have nuclear weapons and for the Islamic Republic to stop striving for a Shiite hegemony in the region. If you ask the Gulf states, their first problem is Iran, and only afterwards comes ISIS, Yemen, the Muslim Brotherhood, and then the Palestinian problem – which was in first place for many years".
He added and emphasized: "The US must declare that it will not enable a nuclear Iran, and that the American military will be ready for action in the region, if and when. In addition, the US should work on a joint operation with the Allies if necessary".
Petraeus was asked about the possibility of having the American Embassy moved to Jerusalem, and mentioned the vague announcement issued by the White House last night. "I'm not sure how to interpret that, it sounds refreshingly diplomatic coming from the spokesman. There are a lot of finesses here that are actually more meaningful than what has happened in the past, where you have a pledge during a campaign and then a total loss of recall on that issue. My hope would be that there could be something along those lines that would also have reassurances about some of the very sensitive sites, not foreclosing the possibilities for a Palestinian capital," said and emphasized that he believes in the two-state solution.
In his conversation with Petraeus, Yadlin said: "the Trump administration presents an opportunity, which hasn't always been available, for the Prime Minister to amend a strategic mistake he made in the summer of 2015. Instead of operating against a deal supported by the US and the world's powers, without actually providing a better alternative – the right thing to do would be to coordinate with the US on how to deal with Iran's negative, non-nuclear activity and with the negative outcomes of the Deal in the long run."
Close to the Decision Makers
During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly called to have Hillary Clinton removed from the race for her inadequate handling of the email controversy. This did not prevent Trump, after being elected, from seriously considering Petraeus for secretary of state, who had admitted transferring confidential emails to his lover during his term as the CIA director and had to resign in 2012.
Trump did not end up appointing Petraeus to any position in his cabinet, but did provide him with public approval, brought him closer to the decision makers close to the president, and he may possibly be appointed to a high-level position during the next round of appointments.
Prior to his role as CIA director, Petraeus served as commanding officer of the US Central Command, the commander of the multimational force in Iraq, and the commander of NATO and the US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.