While in the US on an official visit, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told CBS News that he does not believe the Middle East is headed toward a regional war. During the interview, he also blamed Israel for the escalated tensions along its northern border with Syria.


Zarif Photo Credit: EPA

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an interview with CBS News on Sunday that he does not believe Iran and Israel are on a path to war. However, Iran’s top diplomat alleged that Israel has been making the regional situation worse: “Israel has continued its violations with international law, hoping to be able to do it with impunity because of the U.S. support and trying to find smokescreens to hide behind.”

When Face the Nation’s moderator Margaret Brennan asked whether he believes that Iran’s bases in Syria have escalated the regional tensions, Zarif charged that Israel is the one escalating the tensions “by violating Syrian airspace.” Zarif then mentioned the F-16 fighter jet that was downed by Syrian missiles in February after an Iranian drone infiltrated Israeli airspace. “They [the Israelis] should expect that if they continue to violate territorial integrity of other states, there’ll be consequences,” he stressed.

Brennan also asked Zarif about the possibility of the tensions between Washington and Tehran de-escalating in the near future. Zarif seemed pessimistic about this possibility given the upcoming flashpoints, such as the nuclear deal deadline and the American embassy move to Jerusalem. Zarif condemned the embassy move, calling it “an affront to the entire Muslim world.” He added that Washington “would be much better served if they followed a more, a wiser, more prudent policy outreach.”