Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman tweeted encouragement to demonstrators against the regime in Iran on Tuesday, saying that they are suffering economic hardship because of Tehran’s multi-billion-dollar program of exporting terrorism.
“Citizens of Iran, where’d your money go?” Liberman wrote in a Persian-language post on his social media accounts, translated into Hebrew by his office.
“As of today, despite the economic difficulties at home, the Iranian regime continues to invest billions in Syria, Hezbollah, [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad, the Houthis in Yemen and Shiite militias in Iraq,” Liberman wrote.
He said Iran was bankrolling these groups with $2.5 billion in 2018 alone, on top of the $14 billion he said the country has invested in Syria over the years, while ignoring the needs of its own people.
“Even last month, when you were fighting for your bread in the streets of Iran, Qassem Soleimani was conducting a number of operations, including logistical missions for Syria at a cost of $70 million,” he said.
Soleimani heads the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, which is responsible for funding terror and paramilitary groups abroad.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry briefly posted a tweet on Monday that urged regime change in Iran.
The posting came in for some criticism, in particular from Raz Zimmt, an Iranian expert at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, who argued that such messages are counter-productive.
“I have said before and will say again, Israeli appeals to the Iranian people (both from the Prime Minister and on social media) are positive, especially with proposals such as [Netanyahu’s for] assistance in dealing with the water shortage. But blatant and futile calls to overthrow the regime only create antagonism and are perceived as illegitimate foreign interference even by the critics of the regime in Iran,” he said.
It was not clear that the ministry’s decision to remove the posting was directly in response to Zimmt’s comment.