Connect with us

Featured

Iran vs US: A High Stake Bet On Who Blinks First – OpEd

Published

on

Two sets of US government cables suggest that Iran hawks in and outside the Trump administration appear to have the upper hand as European countries give hardliners a helping hand by attempting to force Iran to seek a diplomatic solution to a crisis that threatens to engulf the Middle East in yet another military conflict.

Donald Trump Warns Iran Against ‘Massacre’ Of Peaceful Protesters

Disclosure of the cables advocating a military strike such as this month’s killing of Iranian general Qassim Soleimani coupled with the withdrawal of a US State Department olive branch that was intended to reassure Iran about the Trump administration’s intentions appears designed to persuade the Islamic republic to back away from its strategy of gradual escalation.

The strategy aims to engineer a situation in which a return to negotiations on the basis of the 2015 international agreement that curbed Iran’s nuclear program is the only way to avoid an all-out war. The Trump administration withdrew from the accord in 2018 and has since imposed ever-harsher economic sanctions on Iran.

Hardliners in Washington believe Iran’s accidental downing of a Ukrainian airliner that sparked anti-government protests days after millions of Iranians came out to mourn Mr. Soleimani’s death in what Iranian leaders project as a rallying around the regime is a proof of concept of their approach.

The hard-liners’ strategy was spelt out in a series of unclassified memos sent by David Wurmser, a close associate of John Bolton, while Mr. Bolton was serving as national security advisor to President Donald J. Trump. The memos projected a US military operation on the scale of the killing of a Mr. Soleimani as a way of destabilizing the government in Tehran.

Mr. Wurmser’s advice was in line with proposals for destabilizing Iran presented to the White House by Mr. Bolton in the months before his appointment. Mr. Bolton was fired by Mr. Trump in September of last year.

“Iran has always been careful to execute its ambitions and aggressive aims incrementally to avoid Western reactions which depart from the expected. In contrast, were unexpected, rule-changing actions taken against Iran, it would confuse the regime. It would need to scramble,” Mr. Wurmser wrote.

Such a U.S. attack would “rattle the delicate internal balance of forces and the control over them upon which the regime depends for stability and survival… Iranians would both be impressed and potentially encouraged by a targeted attack on symbols of repression,” Mr. Wurmser added.

The leaking of Mr. Wurmser’s memos coincided with a cable from the State Department to US diplomatic missions worldwide that walked back an instruction earlier this month by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to limit contacts with Iranian opposition and exile groups in a bid to reassure Iran that the Trump administration was not seeking regime change in Tehran.

The Pompeo cable seemed to be a first step at bridging the gulf of distrust between Washington and Tehran that makes a resolution of the two countries’ differences all but impossible. Iran has long been convinced that regime change is the main driver of US policy since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Mr. Pompeo’s instruction came on the heels of Mr. Trump’s decision not to respond to Iranian missile attacks on US forces in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of Mr. Soleimani.

With the government in Tehran on the backfoot as a result of the downing of the Ukrainian airliner and renewed anti-government protests, leaders of Britain, France and Germany, cosignatories of the 2015 nuclear accord, appear to be buying into the strategy of the Washington hardliners.

The Europeans, responding to Iran’s gradual withdrawal from its commitments under the accord as part of its strategy of gradual escalation, this week triggered its dispute resolution mechanism, that could put Iran’s actions on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council and lead to a re-imposition of international sanctions.

British prime minister Boris Johnson further raised the stakes by telling the BBC that he would be willing to back an as yet non-existent proposal by Mr. Trump for a new agreement with Iran. “If we are going to get rid of it (the nuclear accord), then we need a replacement,” Mr. Johnson said.

The proof will be in the pudding whether the two-pronged stepping up of US and European pressure on Iran will be sufficient to engineer a breakthrough in efforts to avert escalating tension and a return to the negotiating table.

So far, Iran’s response suggests tensions may have to further escalate before parties, all of whom do not want an all-out war, pull back from the brink.

In a first, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, insisting that all foreign forces should leave the Middle East, warned, in response to the European move and statements, that British, French and German troops may be in danger.

“Today, the American soldier is in danger, tomorrow the European soldier could be in danger,” Mr. Rouhani told a Cabinet meeting.

Said a Western diplomat, spelling out European thinking: “This allows us to buy time while making clear to Iran that they cannot continue on this path of non-compliance with no consequences.”

For now, it’s a high stakes poker bet on who blinks first.

Dr. James M. Dorsey

Advertisement
Advertisement

Facebook

FEATURED

INDIA-CHINA INDIA-CHINA
Expert Reviews51 mins ago

Why US-Led Alliance Of Asian Nations – India, Japan & Australia Could Fail To Tame China?

Amidst China’s aggressive advances at land and at sea, the United States led Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) alliance with India,...

ARMY-INDIA ARMY-INDIA
EurAsian Region2 hours ago

Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran Start One Of World’s Most Fiercest Military Drills

Russia launched a major military drill on Monday, involving almost 80,000 servicemen. Kavkaz-2020 (Caucasus-2020) is the final stage of annual...

army-soldiers army-soldiers
Featured3 hours ago

Can India’s Indigenous ‘Lightest Bullet Proof Jacket’ Be A Saviour At LAC Against China?

India has successfully developed an armour jacket for security personnel that is capable of protecting against bullets of different threat...

Chinese-Military-Base-Australia Chinese-Military-Base-Australia
Asia Pacific3 hours ago

China’s 3rd Aircraft Carrier Makes ‘Significant Progress’ Amid Conflict With India, Taiwan

China’s second indigenous aircraft carrier and the third in its fleet, the second Type 002’s construction details have surfaced over...

India-Pakistan ties India-Pakistan ties
Featured4 hours ago

Pakistan Rejects Nomination Of ‘Senior’ Indian Diplomat

Pakistan has rejected the nomination of an Indian diplomat for the post of its Charge d’Affaires in Islamabad, terming him...

Putin-Trump Putin-Trump
EurAsian Region6 hours ago

Escorted By Su-35 Jets, Russian Strategic Bomber Tu-160 Breaks World Record

The Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers broke their own world record by taking a non-stop flight of 25 hours. The previous...

rafale-jets rafale-jets
Featured11 hours ago

Indian Rafale Jets, For The 1st Time, Conduct Sorties Over Ladakh

French-origin Dassault Rafale jets, for the first time known, have commenced conducting ‘familiarization’ sorties over Ladakh as tensions between two...

qatar-saudi qatar-saudi
Featured20 hours ago

Qatar Affirms Its Position On Israel-Palestine Issue; Says Ending Israeli Occupation A Must

Qatar on Sunday said it stands by Palestinians and that the long-standing conflict with Israel should be resolved by addressing...

F-15EX-india F-15EX-india
Featured1 day ago

No More Rafales! Why Indian Air Force Could Reject Second Batch Of Dassault Rafale Jets?

As the Indian Air Force (IAF) looks to further bolster its aerial fleet after the successful acquisition of French Dassault...

US-CHINA-INDIA-JAPAN US-CHINA-INDIA-JAPAN
Americas1 day ago

US To Re-Impose Biting UN Sanctions On Iran Despite Global Objections

The US will reimpose biting UN sanctions on Iran that were removed as part of a 2015 nuclear pact struck...

Advertisement