Sputnik discussed the new round of US-Iran escalation with Middle East analyst Roozbeh Aliabadi.
Sputnik: For many, who don’t keep up with the vicissitudes of the Iran-US relationship, the harsh exchange of words between the two presidents appears to have emerged from the ether; can you explain in a little more detail the context out of which this confrontation has grown?
Roozbeh Aliabadi: Well this confrontation has taken, if you will, a different pace since President Donald Trump decided to leave the JCPOA, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, after that, what we’ve seen is a psychological warfare on both sides. But more important, we have seen a war of words which in a way has peaked as of yesterday, with three events: number one, US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Hayley retweeted a tweet from MEK, which is an opposition armed group, opposition to the Iranian government. Secondly, we had secretary Pompeo spoke to a group of Iranian-Americans and had very harsh words, if you will, for Iran and the Iranian government and later at night Washington time, we saw the American president Donald Trump, in his all-caps tweet, warned Iran against the recent comments by president Rouhani where the president talked about the mother of all wars and the mother of all peace’s, depending on what the enemies will choose.
So all we are seeing, things are getting out of control, at least on the social media front. Here, what we have to understand is both sides are trying to buy legitimacy. President Rouhani is trying to buy legitimacy with the hardliners. President Trump, some argue, is trying to deviate attention, and distract from other issues that he’s having. But also president Trump is taking the wrong gamble, and that gamble is that he’s approaching Iran the same way he has approached North Korea. But the bigger difference is, Iran is not a "little rocket man."
Sputnik: The US has publicly said that it is not pursuing a policy of regime change in Iran. But Secretary of State Pompeo has said that the US will help to support Iranian dissidents and malcontents, and has said that Washington will also help Iranian to circumvent government internet restrictions – some say that this is the beginnings of a policy of regime change from below. But realistically, how seriously would help from the US be taken in Iranian opposition circles?
What we are seeing with this president is that the president is more interested in entertaining foreign policy, rather than a viable solid strategy for Iran. But here’s the danger: not having a coherent policy boxes the United States into a very bad corner, and that means we could lead into accidental conflicts. Just take a look, when the United States tries to zero Iran’s export of oil through the Strait of Hormuz, Iranians have some harsh reactions. Such harsh reactions could translate into an accidental military confrontation between the two nations, or frankly, within actions in the Persian Gulf. That is the danger. So I would say that Trump’s no coherent policy on Iran is something we should worry about rather than having a viable foreign policy option for the country.
Sputnik: Mr. Trump has said that he intends to whittle Iranian oil exports down significantly by November, against which Iran has threatened to react, even by closing the Strait of Hormuz by force – do you actually see a military confrontation of some kind on the horizon of the near future?
Roozbeh Aliabadi: It’s difficult to predict what will happen. What most likely will happen as of November is that this administration will attempt in any shape and form to reduce Iranian crude oil exports to zero. However, Iran has been on the receiving end of this strategy before. What Iranians have done, is that they’ve employed strategies such as barter systems, and in a way using various financial mechanisms to get around the sanctions. Now, here’s the danger: if the United States and Iran accidentally confront each other in the Strait of Hormuz, all bets are off. Which means things could easily get out of hand and certainly not to the best interests of the region, nor Washington nor Tehran. That is something we should we worried about.
The views and opiniones expressed by Roozbeh Aliabadi in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect Sputnik's position.