Trump’s Apparently Keen on ‘Punishing’ Iran, Military Option Cannot be Excluded, Mideast Experts Say

On 23 December, President Donald Trump issued a menace to the Islamic Republic of Iran over Sunday’s assault on the US Embassy in Baghdad, which it claimed was carried out by an Iranian-backed militia group. Middle Eastern consultants have defined the US president’s transfer and mentioned whether or not the White House will resort to a strike in opposition to Tehran.

About 21 missiles landed in Baghdad’s Green Zone compound concentrating on the American Embassy on 20 December, in accordance with a US Central Command assertion. Although the strike induced no US accidents or casualties it did injury buildings within the compound, the assertion says, stressing the assault “was clearly not intended to avoid casualties” and pinning the blame on an “Iranian-backed rogue militia group”.

Tensions proceed to escalate within the area as roughly a month in the past Iran’s high nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was shot useless by a remote-control weapon east of Tehran. No one claimed duty for the assault, which Iran believes was carried out by Israel and an exiled opposition group. The killing evoked robust recollections of a drone assassination of Quds Commander Qasem Soleimani in January 2020.

Why is Trump Stepping Up Rhetoric Against Iran?

“President Trump is apparently keen on punishing Iran to the extent that he can, prior to not having the power to do so in less than two months”, suggests Hooman Majd, an Iranian-American journalist, writer, and commentator, outlining 5 potential causes behind the president’s toughened rhetoric:

·         first, Trump wish to see a Biden administration wrestle to rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), generally often called the Iran nuclear deal, which he left in 2018;

·         second, maybe it is revenge for Iran not bowing to his calls for and never agreeing to satisfy with him and negotiate a brand new deal;

·         third, it is in all probability as a result of Trump’s “maximum pressure” coverage on Iran has failed and he, however, needs to pursue it to the bitter finish;

·         fourth, it is apparently the rising affect of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, an outdated Iran hawk, in crafting US overseas coverage till 20 January;

·         fifth, Israeli and Saudi issues over Washington’s projected rejoining the JCPOA may additionally be at play right here.

Trump’s obvious frustration over “his extreme pressure campaign failing to bring Iran to its knees” and his possible intent to “poison the relations so badly that it would make it excruciatingly difficult for Biden to return to the JCPOA” are the foremost causes behind the president’s newest threats, believes Dr Gal Luft, co-director of the US-based Institute for the Analysis of Global Security.

In November, Trump slapped a brand new batch of sanctions on Iran’s Mostazafan Foundation and about 160 of its subsidiaries allegedly linked to the nation’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in addition to on Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi and a lot of different people. The US president was even mentioned on the time to be contemplating a possible strike in opposition to an Iranian nuclear web site, in accordance with The Wall Street Journal.

AP Photo / HASAN SARBAKHSHIANIran’s nuclear enrichment facility in Natanz in 300 kms 186 (miles) south of capital Tehran, Iran (File)

Will Trump Resort to a Military Option Against Tehran?

Trump’s response to the assault on the US Embassy by some unidentified teams is aimed toward making “the Iranian regime and the pro-Iranian Shiite militias think twice if they intend to carry out attacks against US targets and deterring them from a revenge attack commemorating the 3 January anniversary of the US assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani”, deems Dr Michael Barak, a senior researcher on the Moshe Dayan Centre for Middle Eastern and African Studies.

Soleimani’s killing in a drone assault close to the Baghdad Airport prompted Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to launch quite a few ballistic missiles at Ayn al-Asad, an Iraqi Armed Forces and United States Armed Forces air base, in addition to at one other airbase in Erbil, within the Kurdistan Region on 8 January 2020. The strikes resulted in over 100 servicemen being injured, in accordance with the Pentagon.

President Trump, nonetheless, avoided kicking off a symmetrical army assault in opposition to Iran. As it turned out later, the IRGC by chance downed a Ukrainian passenger airplane whereas anticipating blowback from Washington. The strike killed all 176 passengers and crew of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 on 8 January. After the tragedy, the Iranian authorities provided an apology to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for capturing down the airplane.

It’s unclear whether or not Trump will draw back from a army possibility this time in response to what the president believes to be an Iranian-backed missile assault, in accordance with Barak.

President Trump would possibly resort to “a massive response if the Iranian regime provokes him”, echoes Itamar Rabinovich, professor emeritus of Middle Eastern History at Tel Aviv University. At the identical time, if Tehran resorts to hardball diplomacy amid simmering US-Iranian tensions this might damage Joe Biden’s plans to return to the Iran nuclear deal, in accordance with the tutorial.

Following the strike in Baghdad, high US nationwide safety officers agreed upon a spread of choices to current to President Donald Trump to discourage any assault on US army or diplomatic personnel in Iraq, in accordance with Reuters. Citing a senior administration official, the information company urged the agreed upon measures didn’t comprise a army response over the strike. However, this calculus may change if there are future assaults and if they’re harming Americans, the unnamed official informed Reuters.

For its half, Iran is strengthening air defence programs positioned close to its nuclear services as a precaution in opposition to potential US missile strikes, in accordance with the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas. The media outlet specifies these precautions are being taken in Isfahan Province, the place the Natanz uranium enrichment plant is positioned.


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