Why is Iran Provoking Trump?

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Iran provoking Trump

Tehran’s mullahs need a face-saving process to return to the negotiating table with the “Great Satan”

Heshmat Alavi

By Heshmat Alavi

Once again, Washington is engulfed with the brouhaha of war. In response to military provocations by Iran’s regime, U.S. President Donald Trump recently ordered airstrikes, to only call them off “10 minutes” short of the final go.

The slate of malign activities by Iran has
been growing significantly recently. Tehran is now in clear violation of the
2015 nuclear deal – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) –
by surpassing
the 300 kilogram limit
imposed on its low enriched uranium stockpile;
launching assaults targeting
oil tankers
near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, according to the U.S.
administration; using drones
from Yemen
to target civilian airports in southern Saudi Arabia and even from Iraq against the Kingdom’s oil
facilities. To top the list, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) downed
a U.S. drone
flying in international airspace over the Gulf of Oman,
according to Washington.

Yet going against common mentality, Iran is
not looking to start a war with the U.S. The end result is obvious for
everyone, especially those making the decisions in Tehran. In fact, the mullahs
are seeking to establish high ground to thus claim they are entering talks from
an advantage point.

Merely hours following Trump’s new orders
calling off the U.S. airstrikes, Iranian regime officials were ready at their
podiums to quickly claim success in defeating the Americans.

“The enemies also know that if they start a
war, they will not end it,” boasted Ali Akbari, one of the Friday prayer
leaders in Iran’s capital Tehran. Emboldened after not being attacked in
retaliation, General Amir Hajizadeh, a senior IRGC official, was thumping his
chest about how their units could have “easily” shot down another U.S aircraft,
referring to a P-8 recon plane with around 35 on board at the time.

This would seem ideal for Iran, yet the
past year or so have been far from it. The Trump administration has been able
to exit the JCPOA and there is no sign of true isolation, especially
considering the exodus
of a large number of international companies from Iran. While European leaders
may be bickering and the Iranians claiming to defy Washington’s “hard-hitting” measures,
money talks. For example, trade between Germany and Iran has decreased
by nearly 50 percent
in the past year.

Iran’s GDP will be contracting by six
percent, according
to estimates provided by the International Monetary Fund, as the country’s
inflation is hovering around 50 percent. Furthermore, Washington has been very capable
of nosediving Iran’s oil exports from 2.5 million barrels per day in May of
last year to less
than 300,000 bpd in June
.

All the while, U.S. Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo has continuously emphasized on 12 demands that Tehran needs to meet
before a new agreement can be signed with Washington. This accord, however,
would address all of the mullahs’ malign activities, including regional
meddling, ballistic missile development and proliferation, support for
terrorist groups and more.

Therefore, we can conclude that the status
quo is completely against Iran’s interests and the regime actually has much
more to gain in negotiating with the U.S. Tehran refused talk with the Obama
administration for years until the sanctions began taking a serious toll in 2012.
For the time being, Iran is attempting to drive a rift between the Europeans
and the U.S. in order to buy time and live out Trump’s first term, as described
by various analysts. However, it’s easier said than done.

This argument loses speed with U.S. President Donald Trump reiterating he has no rush in negotiating with Iran, knowing sanctions are already biting and vowing to only raise the bar. With Iran publicly and officially violating the JCPOA on July 1 and promising further measures on July 8, this becomes even more certain.

Already humiliated, Tehran has no choice
but to play all its cards before succumbing to any talks. This is where Iran’s
proxies come in to play.

Thanks to the West’s appeasement approach
with Iran during the past four decades, Tehran has been able to establish a
network of proxy forces throughout the region. Now, we are witnessing
extremists in Iraq and Yemen launch attacks against U.S. allies, disrupting
regional stability while placing very little forces and assets in danger
through carefully calibrated “hit-and-run” style assaults.

As we speak, Iran has surpassed the uranium enrichment threshold. This is a flagrant breach of the JCPOA and Iran is pledging to launch a second phase of decreasing its commitments to the accord on July 8.

This is a risky gamble for Tehran’s
mullahs. While portraying a bold and defying portrait at home, the regime knows
they are making it even more difficult for Europe, Russia and China to remain
patient and respect the JCPOA.

Here is where many Western analysts fail to
continue comprehending the “logic” behind the mullahs ruling Iran.

This regime understands better than anyone
how it lacks the popular support any normal government needs to remain in
power. Relying on a very small base and through its grip on security forces
imposing heavy social crackdown, the regime is walking a fine line and cannot portray
a weak image. Otherwise, an already dissatisfied society will erupt once again
as the Dec 2017 / Jan 2018 uprising took the regime, and the world, by
surprise.

That is why we are constantly witnessing
various IRGC commanders repeat threats against the U.S. while Operation
Praying Mantis
– when President Reagan ordered a strike that destroyed half
of Iran’s navy back in 1988 in less than a day – is fresh in their minds.

Sanctions are working now and they were
working even during the Obama tenure. If the previous U.S. administration
maintained its sanctions against Iran for another six months, the mullahs’
economy would have literally crumbled in 2013. Another mistake by the Obama
team was providing concessions to Tehran when this regime was completely
cornered.

Today we have a completely new White House.
And we should keep in mind that Trump is not Obama and has no intentions of
providing any concessions to Iran’s mullahs. Despite the fact that Trump says
he merely wants a non-nuclear Iran, Pompeo’s 12 conditions have never been
officially put aside.

While the U.S. President has continuously
expressed his readiness for talks, this is Iran that continues down the path of
malign measures. Illogical as it may seem, they have no other choice.

The turbulent road Tehran’s mullahs have
steered into will only become more difficult, with thunderstorms in the
forecast. 

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Reprinted from: https://www.coreysdigs.com/global/why-is-iran-provoking-trump/

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