It was widely reported on Thursday that Iran's military had launched a large-scale exercise, involving some 50 ships in the Strait of Hormuz, in an attempt to practice "swarming" tactics. According to reports, such an operation could easily shut down the waterway and prevent the transportation of 20 percent of the world's oil that moves by sea.
The exercise comes months after US President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in May, an Obama-era agreement that saw the removal of Iranian sanctions in exchange for Iran parting ways with its nuclear ambitions and allowing inspections to its nuclear facilities. In doing so, Trump triggered a series of sanctions to be reimposed on the Middle Eastern country, of which the first round will go into effect on August 6.
Tensions between the US and Iran have remained high ever since the JCPOA withdrawal, especially after Trump imposed wider sanctions against companies and countries who continued to do business with Iran.
"For one, it would actually precipitate a wide-ranging military campaign against Iran," he told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou. "It would also prevent Iran from shipping oil to the major countries that are not going to abide by the US demands — China, Turkey and India — all of which depend on Iranian oil."
"So, it would be cutting off their own foot. I see this largely as a domestic, political move," he added, noting that Rouhani, who is in an "extremely weak" position, is just trying to "show a strong hand."
Rouhani would only shut down the strait if the US actually tried to issue a regime changing attack on Iran, according to the analyst.
Fellow guest Mazda Majidi, an Iranian specialist, author, journalist and educator, stressed that Rouhani has been "in a much-weakened position, even before he got elected for his first term," because of his moderate stances that included promises to improve the economy and open up dialogue with Western governments.
Rouhani's reelection in May of 2017 "was largely due to his success at negotiating the JCPOA," Majidi said. "And so now the problem for Rouhani is that, with the US unilaterally and illegally pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he doesn't have very much to show for his approach of negotiating with the US," he told Loud & Clear.
Rouhani took the reins from former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in August 2013 to become the country's seventh president.
But despite the cost of living rising in the country, Majidi indicated that there is a sense of unity among Iranians.
"As far as the Iranian economy is concerned… it's in a state of crisis, it is not on the verge of collapsing," he said. "Trump's overly aggressive approach has caused also some level of unification among the Iranian people. It is widely recognized that the US is the one causing the crisis."
The second and third rounds of sanctions against Iran will be implemented on November 4 and 5, according to the US Treasury Department.