The announcement comes as Iran and the US remain locked in a tense, weeks-long standoff. The White House deployed an aircraft carrier and bomber planes to the Persian Gulf in response to “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” of threats from Iran in May.
Mahan Abedin, an Iran analyst at the Middle East Eye and director of Dysart Consulting, has commented on the situation around the Persian Gulf.
Sputnik: Some reports have noted that the escalation of tensions with Iran was causing harm to the US economy. Does the US gain anything from the escalation?
Mahan Abedin: Well, I think primarily the US tends to gain by selling more weapons to its Persian Gulf Arab allies, in particular, Saudi Arabia.
So there is a direct economic incentive to the US to drive up tensions in the Persian Gulf.
Sputnik: M many analysts and media outlets have blamed the growing tension between Iran and the US on John Bolton. In your view, how true are these claims?
Mahan Abedin: Well, I think you have to make some distinctions here within President Trump himself who has often said that he is opposed to military conflict in general but especially in relation to the situation with the Persian Gulf and with Iran because Trump understands the consequences and the costs attached to a direct military confrontation with Iran.
Now, the current US National Security body is dominated by hardliners. You have mentioned John Bolton but there is also Pompeo and many officials below them. I think Pompeo and Bolton are really pushing for some kind of action.
But I think even they would be quite reluctant to engage Iran militarily because the costs are huge and the consequences are very unpredictable.
Iran is a formidable military power; it is the preeminent regional power in the Middle East. Any attack on Iranian interests, any direct attack on Iranian interests in the Persian Gulf would elicit a big response from Iran.
If some people in America, led by people like Bolton or Pompeo, think that they can conduct a so-called tactical strike against specific targets and expect either no Iranian retaliation or a very limited Iranian retaliation, they would be mistaken as Iran would retaliate very robustly.
And this would put American interest in the region at great risk, but it will also affect the American allies – United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia – their interest would also be hit.
So the consequences of any attack on Iran are huge. And I think the Americans are going to think twice, three times, four [times]. And I just like to add that, on the contrary to all the scaremongering and the warmongering going on, I don’t think a military clash is likely in the foreseeable future.
I think tensions are clearly very high but they still remain manageable.
Sputnik: In your opinion, what future steps can be taken to resolve this conflict overall?
Mahan Abedin: Well, the most important step is that the Americans stop their economic terrorism, this total economic warfare which they are waging against Iran by way of sanctions.
Their desire to drive Iranian oil exports to zero, for example, is completely unrealistic. But if the Americans tend to need to push in that direction, then tensions will continue to rise. So the Americans have to stop the economic warfare.
If they want to calm the situation down generally, they must return to the multilateral nuclear agreement which they ditched a year ago, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear agreement.
So these are two very important measures really which the Americans must take before tensions begin to calm down.
Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Mahan Abedin and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.