How Switzerland may have just prevented World War 3?
An encrypted fax machine in the Swiss Embassy had a message for Iran
The United States and Iran were on the brink of war this week. A war between Iran and the U.S. has the potential of World War Three. Iran had already threatened to destroy Dubai and Haifa if the U.S. was to attack.
Without Swiss precision and cooperation, this would not be a good weekend for the world. It would have been the end for millions working in the travel and tourism industry, and for those that love to travel.
Not only the American people owe more than a “Thank You to the Swiss Government” and to Swiss Ambassador Markus Leitner in Tehran.
How could Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs be credited to prevent a possible World War Three?
The answer is the facilitation of communication between Iran and the U.S.
Since 1980 when the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was occupied by Iran, there was only one official and effective way of communication left between Washington and Tehran.
One Iranian official said this back channel provided by Switzerland provided a welcomed bridge between the U.S. and Iran when all others had been burned. “In the desert, even a drop of water matters.”
Minutes after the United States killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the U.S. government had a message to Iran: “Don’t escalate.”
In the following days, the White House and Iranian leaders discreetly exchanged more measured messages between the two enemies and different from the exchange of tweets and official publicly broadcast threats.
A week later, and after a possibly purposely-missed retaliation show-attack by Iran on two U.S. military bases hosted by Iraq, the United States and Iran had been stepping back from war talk.
How did this happen?
In the absence of diplomatic or consular relations of the United States of America with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Swiss government acting through its Embassy in Tehran serves as the Protecting Power of the USA in Iran since May 21, 1980.
The Swiss Embassy’s Foreign Interests Section provides consular services to U.S. citizens living in or traveling to Iran.
The key emergency communication method is a special encrypted fax machine in a sealed room of the Swiss Embassy in Tehran. The equipment operates on a secure Swiss Government network linking its Tehran embassy to the Foreign Ministry in Bern and forwards the same message to the Swiss Embassy in Washington. Only the most senior official has access to the key cards needed to use the fax machine.
Swiss Ambassador Markus Leitner delivered President Trump’s message by hand to Iranian Foreign Minister Havad Zarif early Friday morning, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal citing both U.S. and Swiss officials.