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May 24, 2019

Dangerous escalation

Opinion

May 24, 2019

The sharp escalation of tensions between the US and Iran has reached a dangerous level. The prospect of another devastating war in the Middle East has increased in last couple of weeks.

The Trump administration has continued to build up its military force in the region, dispatching a Patriot missile battery to the Persian Gulf along with a Navy amphibious assault ship. The USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier is already in the Red Sea. The B-52 bombers have landed at US Al Udeid airbase in Qatar.

As a deliberate attempt to increase the pressure on Iran, the Trump administration leaked “an updated plan” to the American media – to send 120,000 troops to Middle East. The neocon war mongers in the Trump administration want to escalate tension with Iran as a justification to increase American military presence in the Middle East.

Hawks like John Bolton and Pompeo are using the “Iranian threat” as a justification for the escalation. The narrative of the Iranian threat is based on the assumption that Iran poses a direct threat to American interests and is preparing to launch attacks against American troops stationed in Iraq and Syria through its proxies. This invisible threat to American interests is being used to besiege Iran and exert maximum pressure on it.

US Secretary of State Pompeo, US National Security adviser John Bolton and other US officials have repeatedly vowed to take “swift and decisive” military action in defence of US interests in the oil-rich region. They have threatened to unleash “unrelenting” force against Iran in retaliation for any action taken against its interests.

They are following the footsteps of Colin Powel and Dick Cheney of the Bush administration who built the narrative of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ against Saddam Hussain to attack Iraq in 2003. Later, they accepted that the WMD narrative was based on false information. But the damage was already done. Hundreds of thousands of innocent lives were lost and Iraq was destroyed.

The Trump administration is using the threat of war with the clear aim to force the Iranian regime to accept American hegemony and imperialist domination in the region. America wants to contain the Iranian influence in the region. From Palestine to Yemen and Lebanon to Syria, Iran is featured in all the major armed and political conflicts in the region. The US wants to dominate and control the Middle East. But the Russia/Iran alliance is posing a major challenge to American domination and hegemony.

Historically, American imperialism never been able to gain complete control and establish its hegemony over the Middle East. During the cold war period, the Soviet Union used to enjoy considerable influence in the region. Regime change in Iran might be the ultimate goal of Trump administration but in the short term it wants to bring it in line with American policy in the region.

The current military build-up is aimed to fully implement the American sanctions against Iran. The Trump administration has imposed a new round of sanctions aimed at halting all exports of Iranian iron, steel, aluminum and copper. The Trump administration wants to bring the sale of Iranian oil to the minimum level. Military presence and escalating tension will make it difficult for Iran to export its oil. Oil export is key to the Iranian economy, and this oil embargo will hurt it badly. The aim is to bring the regime to its knees or create a situation in which people will rise against the worsening conditions. In this way, the US wants to develop a Venezuela-like situation in Iran to fulfil its old dream of regime change.

The other objective is to force the Iranian regime to withdraw its continued support to its allies in the region – from Hezbollah in Lebanon to Hamas in the Palestinian Gaza Strip, Houthi rebels in Yemen and various militias in Iraq and Syria. President Trump considers Iran a main hurdle in way of his Middle East plan.

President Trump wants to impose a one-state solution on the Palestinians. The promised Palestine state is no more on the American agenda. Trump wants to force the Palestine leadership to sit on the negotiating table to discuss the peace plan around a one-state solution. Iran is supporting the demand of a Palestinian state and is the main supporter of Hamas. Whereas America wants to end Hamas rule in Gaza.

The US wants to install a government in Yemen which the Houthi militia are not ready to accept. The US wants to have a political settlement in Syria without President Bashar al Assad. The Iranian regime is backing the Assad government. With the active support of militias in Syria and Russian military support, Assad’s forces have regained a lot of ground in the country.

Hezbollah in Lebanon is a constant headache for Israel. Hezbollah forced the Israel to withdraw its troops from Lebanon. The US sees the Hezbollah as a main threat to Israel and its own grand designs in the region. Hezbollah’s main support comes from Iran. Both Israel and America want to weaken and then defeat the Hezbollah. And so Iranian support is crucial for Hezbollah in case of any military conflict with Israel.

The Trump administration used the US-Iran nuclear deal as a lame excuse to increase pressure on Iran. The real purpose seems to be regime change. The Americans want a pro-US regime in Iran that helps American imperialism establish its hegemony in the region.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

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