December 3, 2023

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State Department insists no evidence to support claims that Iran planned or knew in advance of …

A spokesman for the US State Department has reiterated that the Biden administration has not yet seen evidence to support the idea of direct links between the Iranian government and the violent assault on Israeli civilians, police and military bases carried out by Hamas over the past week.

Matthew Miller made that clear at a Tuesday press briefing, where he made the careful distinction between Iran’s longstanding and widely-known financial and political support for Hamas in the region and actual, tangible logistical support for the latest attack.

“We do not have any information to suggest that Iran either directed or orchestrated these attacks by Hamas. Iran likely knew that Hamas was planning operations against Israel, but without the precise timing or scope of what occurred,” Mr Miller told reporters.

“Iran has of course long supported Hamas with material and financial support, but we have not yet seen anything to suggest that they supported or were behind this current attack.”

He did note, however, that the conclusion currently reached on that subject would be reviewed if and when evidence of those supposed links was uncovered. That is significant, given that the US’s current position directly contradicts a report from The Wall Street Journal which claimed to cite senior Hamas and Hezbollah figures who claimed that Iran “had worked with Hamas since August” in direct planning for the attacks.

Mr Miller also fielded numerous questions about whether the United States would take any action against Iran specifically; he declined, generally, to speculate on whether the attacks launched by Hamas with Iran’s tacit verbal support would cause the US to reconsider its approach to negotiations with Tehran.

He went on to point out that the Iranian government has a long history of supporting Hamas and other militant groups in the Middle East when questioned about a recent decision by the Biden administration to free up $6bn in oil revenue for the country to use for humanitarian purposes, a result of a prisoner swap deal.

The spokesman forcefully battled with reporters over the issue of whether the US was causing more problems for the region by freeing up that money. His rhetoric suggested, however, that the Biden administration holds Iran at least somewhat responsible for the violence of the past week.

”I will say that we have made clear that Iran has been supportive of Hamas. Hamas would not be what it is today without the financial and material backing that they have gotten from Iran. So yes, we very much do believe that Iran is at least complicit in these attacks, even if we do not yet have any evidence to show that they directed or orchestrated them,” he said.

Many conservatives including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have called on the US to reverse course on the issue of providing Iran with a means to access oil revenue in the wake of the attack.

Iran’s continued support of militant groups remains a sore spot for many in the US foreign policy sphere, and many hawkish figures in DC have called on the US to do more to counter those efforts with crippling economic sanctions that are criticised by progressives for worsening life for Iran’s civilian population.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due to visit Israel on Thursday as the Biden administration redoubles efforts to show support for Israel following the Hamas onslaught.

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