This according to Israeli and Western intelligence officials, in their informed assessment of the looming danger of a military conflagration between Iran and Israel comes in light of ‘growing disappointment in Tehran over its failure to force the Trump Administration to reconsider the crippling sanctions it imposed on the Islamic Republic, which brought about a serious economic crisis.
To date, Iran is accused of conducting covert operations against U.S. interests in the region, including multiple attacks against oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and drone strikes against Saudi oil sites – expecting the United States to scale back its demands vis-à-vis the Ayatollah regime.
Nevertheless, a senior intelligence source revealed the current assessment, saying: “due to Washington’s continued resolve, the Iranians are now considering to scale-up efforts by possibly launching an attack on Israel from its northern frontier.”
In contrast to this evaluation, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani deemed the American efforts to isolate the Islamic Republic from the international community “unsuccessful.” In a televised address from Tehran, the Iranian President sought to ridicule the Trump Administration for its perceived “little experience,” while insisting that while the Islamic Republic does not seek a military escalation – ‘if war will break out, the Islamic Republic will prevail.’ The Iranian President said: “Despite all of the Americans’ efforts in the region and their desire to cut off our ties with all of the world and their desire to keep Iran secluded, they have been unsuccessful.”/ “This war will end with the victory of the (Iranian) nation. Because the other side is not a nation. We do not seek war with any nation. Those facing us are a group of politicians with little experience.”
President Rouhani made this statement a day after acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan announced the deployment of an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East. According to a statement by the Pentagon, those troops will be earmarked for surveillance of Iranian activities, and protection of American forces already deployed in the region.
Nevertheless, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated in a press conference last night that the United States has repeatedly communicated to the Iranians that the American military presence in the region solely aims to “deter aggression,” in line with the fact that “President Trump does not want war.” According to Pompeo: “We have been engaged in many messages, even this this moment right here, communicating to Iran that we are there to deter aggression. President Trump does not want war and we will continue to communicate that message while doing the things that are necessary to protect American interests in the region.”
Secretary Pompeo’s repeated statements of U.S. efforts to de-escalate tensions does not mean that the United States is not well prepared for a possible military escalation with the Islamic Republic. In comments made at the White House yesterday, President Donald Trump underscored this fact, while indicating an apparent shift in Iran’s periodic behavior; saying “We are very prepared regardless of what goes, we are very, very prepared. If you look at what’s taking place, if you look at what they’ve done, if you look at and I’m not just talking about over the last week – I’m talking about over a long period of years, they’ve been a nation of terror. Now we’ll see what happens. We’ll see what happens. They are a much different country today than they were two and a half years ago when I came into office when President Obama signed that horrible deal. They were screaming Death to America. I haven’t been hearing that lately.”
Meanwhile, European powers are shifting their tone toward the Iranians. While EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini held an extensive meeting with her American counterpart Mike Pompeo at the State Department in Washington – during which the two top diplomats discussed the latest developments pertaining to Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and aggressive foreign policy; In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel threatened the Ayatollah regime with “consequences” if the latter would breach the 2015 nuclear agreement.
During a joint press conference with visiting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Chancellor Merkel insisted that Berlin continues to stand for a peaceful resolution of the standoff between Washington and Tehran. Nevertheless, if Iran will breach the nuclear deal, Merkel emphasized: “We must do everything we can to solve the situation, the conflict with Iran peacefully. That is what Germany stands for and that is why the German foreign minister was in Iran. We are in constant contact with our American partners. It is a serious situation, we know that, but we are going to do everything we can to influence all sides. But we also want to make it clear to Iran that this situation must not get worse. As the foreign minister said in regard to the nuclear deal, we are pushing Iran to stick to it. If that is not the case, there will of course be consequences.”
While Merkel’s warning to Iran was also adopted by the leaders of the United Kingdom and France; the remaining two signatories of the deal – China and Russia – maintain a position which attributes sole responsibility for the deteriorating situation to the United States.
In a joint press conference with visiting Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, Beijing’s top diplomat Wang Yi urged the United States to alter its “extreme pressure methods,” saying: “We call on all sides to remain rational and exercise restraint, and not take any escalatory actions that irritate regional tensions, and not open a Pandora’s box. In particular, the US side should alter their extreme pressure methods. Like what I have mentioned earlier, any unilateral behavior has no basis in international law. Not only will it not resolve the problem, it will only create an even greater crisis.”
Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin also directed accusations toward the United States claiming it bears responsibility for the growing tensions in the Middle East. Nevertheless, the Russian leader contended that as a first stage in de-escalation, all remaining participants of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – the technical term for the 2015 nuclear agreement – must “to honor their commitments.” Putin stated: “Everyone is concerned about the state of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to Iran‘s nuclear program. U.S. leaving this agreement has significantly raveled its execution and has had a negative impact on the Non-Proliferation Treaty. We believe that the only sensible decision is for all deal participants to honor their commitments. This is what Russia intends to do.”