By Mahmoud Hakamian
Tensions between Iran and the United States have been heating up in recent weeks. Last week, Patrick Shanahan, the acting Defense Secretary spoke to administration officials about the U.S. military plan that could see up to 120,000 troops being sent to the Middle East in the event that Iran steps up its nuclear weapons program or attacks U.S. forces.
A number of President Trump’s top officials are wanting to push ahead with bold moves. His national security adviser John Bolton is one of those that will not treat Iran lightly. He is said to be the driving force behind the military plan.
However, there are other administration officials who are a little more cautious about Iran, precisely because the threat is so high. Several have said that they would prefer a diplomatic solution to the issues and are concerned that the current tensions could inadvertently spiral into war.
The Iran threat is one that needs to be dealt with carefully. The previous administration under Obama treated Iran with great leniency and gave the regime a number of very generous concessions during the 2015 Iran nuclear deal negotiations. This strategy was a failure because it emboldened the regime.
The Trump administration is very conscious of the mistakes of the previous administration and it is determined to reduce the threat. It has realised that not putting pressure on the regime is a mistake because the regime takes it as a green light to continue with its belligerence. One case in point is that some regime leaders have taken an even bolder stance after Trump wound down in Syria and decreased U.S. navy presence in the region.
Following a confirmed threat from Iran, the U.S. has moved an aircraft carrier, a missile interceptor battery and further firepower to the Gulf. It has been said that the Iranian regime is mobilising a number of proxy groups in Syria and Iraq with the aim of going after American targets.
The Trump administration has reiterated that it does not want to enter into military conflict with Iran, but it has equally emphasised that it needs to be ready to defend its own forces and interests in the region.
The people of Iran are the first victims of the regime, as Trump reminded last year. They are calling for regime change and will settle for nothing less, after years of promises that have not been kept. Pressure from the international community is a tremendous support to the people of Iran who are intensifying domestic pressure.
The people will be the force behind regime change but the international community’s responsibility is to make the regime accountable for its actions. Decades of human rights abuses and domestic suppression need to be dealt with now.
The regime is in the most vulnerable place it has ever been and this is when it could potentially be dangerous so the policy of exerting the maximum pressure should go on and the international community should more than ever listen to the only viable alternative which is the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) with its president elect Maryam Rajavi.