This could become the “crisis” of the summer of 2019 internationally, the moment when the world wonders if a war will break out in the Persian Gulf.
The escalation between Washington and Tehran does not give any sign of respite. However, on the evening of June 20th, the American president stepped on the brakes, stopping in extremis targeted bombings against Iran, after seeing an American drone shot down by the Iranian army, not far from the Strait of Ormuz, a “hot” zone if any.
But in the days that followed, he resumed the tone of the threat. On the 25th, Donald Trump spoke of deploying “a considerable and destructive force” against Iran, if the Iranians still dared to attack American targets.
And on the 26th, he added: if the war were to happen, he said, “believe me, it would not last long”. According to him, bending Iran would be an easy affair and quickly dispatched to “the most powerful army in the world”, an operation betting on massive bombings, but “no troops on the ground,” he said. .
On the Iranian side, the lyrics are also brutal. President Hassan Rohani – a man who normally represents a moderate wing of power in Iran, in relation to the Revolutionary Guards and Ayatollah Khamenei, the “Supreme Leader” – spoke of a White House “suffering from mentals.”
For Iran, the direct sanctions against the supreme guide sign “the definitive closure of the diplomatic channel”. And Khamenei himself said that “the Iranian people will never capitulate to cruel sanctions and insults”.
Are Trump’s threats credible?
In the autumn of that 2017, not two years ago, the American president had promised to bring down “fire and the fury On the country of Kim Jong-un.
The following year, Kim and Trump met for the first time and exchanged “beautiful letters”. They even “fell in love”, if we must believe Trump [maybe a little naïve in this case].
The situations are certainly very different. A flip-flop of this kind on the Iranian front seems less conceivable than with Kim Jong-un’s theatrical character [and basically, enough “compatible trump”].
Nevertheless, the North Korean precedent clearly shows the “bluffing” and “mechanical rolling” side of military threats when they emanate from a character like Donald Trump.
Is not Trump surrounded by counselors more radical than him?
Yes. Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seem to be pulling the rope in favor of the confrontation, trying to push the enemy through provocations. For example, by flying drones on the borders of Iranian territory, if not directly inside, to then obtain a casus belli against Tehran.
In a symmetrical way, the Iranian power has its own radicals in the ranks of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, a kind of “state in the state” militarized, rich and corrupt, omnipresent in the “gray” economy. In turn, they may have pushed for confrontation.
Confrontation that do not want especially characters like President Rohani or his Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, major architects of the nuclear agreement of summer 2015. These two men are today marginalized by sabotage and the probable sinking. of this agreement, and forced in their turn to adopt a language “hard” to their defending body.
This game of “radical elements” – which do not necessarily represent the White House line or the Iranian leadership line, not to mention the possible interventions of other states than Iran and the United States – can increase the probability “Accidents”. Accidents that could lead to a war that officially nobody wanted.
Have we shed light on the incidents of recent weeks: boats attacked in the Arabian Sea and US drone shot down?
No. The origin of relatively benign attacks against six boats in May and June – “Iranian acts of aggression” according to Washington, but denied by Tehran – remains mysterious.
The “evidence” put forward by Mike Pompeo, such as the broadcast of a blurred photo shortly after the June 13th attack on a Japanese oil tanker, is questionable.
So much so that a friend state of Washington, the United Arab Emirates [directly facing Iran, just across the Strait of Hormuz, a major global oil crossing], refused on June 25 to award these attacks to Iran! As had also refused Japan, yet another ally of the United States.
Admittedly, Iranian acts of sabotage are still possible. But with the little we know, it is impossible to rule out the opposite possibility: “blows” from Saudi or Israeli services, for example, to bring the hat to Tehran. Israel and Saudi Arabia hold a “hard line” against Iran.
As for the US drone shot down by the Iranian defense, it can not be ruled out that it actually and briefly violated Iran’s airspace. The June 22 New York Times quoted an unnamed US intelligence source as saying it was a possibility.
Is war possible?
One begins to say – without wanting to believe and without predicting – that a Gulf War [which would be the fourth since the 1980s] is unfortunately no longer impossible in 2019.
Both parties camp on irreconcilable positions. Trump, even though he says he is ready to “talk at any time” to the Iranian leaders, calls for a kind of unconditional surrender.
Opposite, there are Iranian leaders who do not want to lose face and who seem determined to endure a long seat. On nuclear power, they had made a lot of compromises in recent years, but they have never resulted in the economic opening that Tehran is hoping for.
Today, US extraterritorial sanctions [“If you do business with Iran, we will boycott you too”] are effective. They hurt a lot because there is almost no oil left today from Iran.
At the G20 Summit in late June in Japan, this crucial topic of the summer of 2019 will appear in the background, behind the commercial quarrel between China and the United States. Leaders like Emmanuel Macron and Shinzo Abe, who himself had traveled to Tehran in mid-June, will try to build bridges to avoid the worst in the Persian Gulf. It will be difficult.
Sarah Clifford is a seasoned journalist with nearly 15 years experience. While studying journalism at Cardiff University, Sarah found a passion for finding engaging stories. As a contributor to Kev’s Best, Sarah mostly covers human interest pieces.