'It's not hard to imagine .' Cheney (archive photo)
Photo: AP
Benjamin Netanyahu (archive photo)
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin

Early withdrawal from Iraq disastrous for Israel, Cheney says

US vice president tells AIPAC conference, ‘If Iran's allies prevail, threat to our friends in Middle East will only be magnified.’ Netanyahu to reporters in Washington: Legislation can be advanced in US to prevent money from being indirectly channeled to Tehran

WASHINGTON – An early US withdrawal from Iraq would have ‘disastrous’ consequences for Israel, US Vice President Dick Cheney told an AIPAC conference on Monday.


“Friends owe it to friends to be as candid as possible, so let me say that a precipitous American withdrawal from Iraq would be a disaster for the United States and the entire Middle East,” he said.


“It's not hard to imagine what could occur if our coalition withdrew before Iraqis could defend themselves. If Sunni extremists prevailed, al Qaeda and its allies would recreate the safe haven they lost in Afghanistan, except now with the oil wealth to pursue weapons of mass destruction and underwrite their terrorist designs, including their pledge to destroy Israel.


“If Iran's allies prevailed, the regime in Tehran's own designs for the Middle East would be advanced and the threat to our friends in the region would only be magnified,” the vice president said.


Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters ahead of his expected meeting with Cheney that Iran’s economy can be destabilized and severely undermined within the next few months.


'Military strike last resort'

Today some 300 multi-national companies benefit from pension funds and investment funds in the United States and some of them direct the money towards investments in the Iranian oil industry. Netanyahu noted that legislation can be advanced in the United States to prevent money from being indirectly channeled to Tehran.


Netanyahu said such action may destabilize Iranian President’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime but would not necessarily bring it down altogether.


Iran is in the midst of negotiations with foreign investors on the development of its oil and gas fields, Netanyahu said, adding that legislation aimed at isolating the Islamic Republic must be passed in Israel and the US, as Germany, France and the UK would refuse to sever their economic ties to Iran.


A bill submitted by US Congressman Tom Lantos calls for imposing an economic embargo on any country or company that trades with Iran in the field of energy, while an initiative by Congressman Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, suggests prohibiting the transfer of pension fund money from the US to Iran.


Netanyahu said that imposing economic sanctions is the most effective way to stop Iran’s nuclear program, adding that a military strike ‘is a last resort.’


פרסום ראשון: 03.12.07, 22:47
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