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In an audio recording leaked to a London-based news channel, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif explains that he learned of “at least” 200 Israeli attacks on Iranian targets in Syria, not from security personnel in his own government, but from former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. As Obama’s top U.S. diplomat, Kerry who inked the agreement whereby we subsidized Iran’s sponsorship of global terror and they pretended not to illegally advance their nuclear weapons program. Kerry continued to meet with Zarif even after he lost his official role. You might recall that during the same time (mid-2018), the media was busy pointing out that U.S. law prohibits private citizens from communicating with foreign governments, not as it applied to John Kerry, but as a way to persecute former Trump associates.
Zarif also suggested that government matters in Iran are often dictated by the IRGC, and that Russia had worked with Soleimani to thwart (stall?) the 2015 nuclear deal.
Zarif also criticized Soleimani for allowing Russian warplanes to fly over Iran on their way to bomb Syria, and for moving military equipment and personnel to Syria on the state-owned Iran Air.
During the recording, Zarif mentions several times that the interview was never intended for publication.
Zarif mentions no time frame about his conversation with Kerry. All he is saying in this part of the three-hour recording is the late IRGC infamous commander of the Qods (Quds) Force, Qasem Soleimani. What else did Kerry tell Zarif? Again there is no hint in the recording? However, the number of Israeli airstrikes mentioned by Zarif can perhaps give us a hint about the timeframe.
Before March 2017, Israel had conducted several airstrikes in Syria, but from all indications in public record, the total number was not even close to 200. As a matter of fact, Reuters reported in September 2018(link is external) that Israel had carried out 200 attacks. The Israeli air war against Iran and its proxies in Syria intensified after March 2017(link is external), by which time Kerry was not Secretary of State but is known to have had contacts with Zarif, that the Trump Administration and the former president personally criticized(link is external) on several occasions.
This could lead one to assume that the conversation took place perhaps sometime in late 2017 or in the first half of 2018. This is when someone like Kerry could have spoken of 200 airstrikes.
With Israel largely having been silent about its air war in Syria, it is hard to know if before 2017 there were 200 airstrikes that Kerry could have mentioned to Zarif. But international media and observers began to mention hundreds of airstrikes when Kerry was already out of office. Also, from the recording it is impossible to gauge the time or the context of the conversation Kerry and Zarif had.
The audio tape, which has ignited a political firestorm in Iran and has been dubbed as ‘Zarifgate’, contains perhaps dozens of nuances and interesting pieces of information that will surely occupy analysts and journalists for a long time to come. Just one sentence by Zarif has already led to many articles and political debates in the US.
Republican lawmakers are demanding an investigation of federal climate czar John Kerry, after a leaked recording appeared to reveal that he told Iran’s foreign minister about covert Israeli military operations in Syria — which he later denied.
“These are very serious allegations and knowing the position that he holds in government and position that he did hold, yes, it should be investigated. Knowing if these are true, I think it should go beyond him just resigning,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the GOP leader in the House, on Tuesday.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Kerry should testify to the panel about whether he gave sensitive information to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.