After a somewhat quiet weekend the Trump administration today engaged in another push against Iran.
Today the Treasury Department sanctioned the leaders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). It also sanction Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and his office! There will be no more Disney Land visits for them.
There is more to come:
The Treasury Secretary will designate Javad Zarif as what? A terrorist? Zarif is quite effective in communicating the Iranian standpoint on Twitter and other social media. Those accounts will now be shut down.
The Trump administration’s special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, said today that Iran should respond to U.S. diplomacy with diplomacy. Sanctioning Iran’s chief diplomat is probably not the way to get there.
All those who get sanctioned by the U.S. will gain in popularity in Iran. These U.S. measures will only unite the people of Iran and strengthen their resolve.
Iran will respond to this new onslaught by asymmetric means of which it has plenty.
On Saturday Trump said that all he wants is that Iran never gets nuclear weapons. But the State Department wants much more. Hook today said that the U.S. would only lift sanctions if a comprehensive deal is made that includes ballistic missile and human rights issues. Iran can not agree to that. But this is not the first time that Pompeo demands more than Trump himself. Is it Pompeo, not Trump, who is pressing this expanded version to make any deal impossible?
Brian Hook is by the way a loon who does not even understand the meaning of what he himself says:
Those are two good arguments for Iran to never again agree to any deal with the ‘non-agreement-capable’ United States.
It seems obvious from the above that the Trump administration has no real interest in reasonable negotiations with Iran:
“The administration is not really interested in negotiations now,” said Robert Einhorn, a former senior State Department official who was involved in negotiations with Iranian officials during the Obama administration. “It wants to give sanctions more time to make the Iranians truly desperate, at which point it hopes the negotiations will be about the terms of surrender.”
That is part of the strategy. But the real issue is deeper:
The U.S. now tries to build an international coalition against Iran. Trump invited China and Japan to protect their tankers in the Middle East:
One wonders what the U.S. Central Command and the U.S. Navy will say when that Chinese carrier group arrives in the Gulf region.
Who else will join this?
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday he wants to build a global coalition against Iran during urgent consultations in the Middle East, following a week of crisis that saw the United States pull back from the brink of a military strike on Iran.
Pompeo spoke as he left Washington for Saudi Arabia, followed by the United Arab Emirates, ..
“We’ll be talking with them about how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned, and how we can build out a global coalition, a coalition not only throughout the Gulf states, but in Asia and in Europe, that understands this challenge as it is prepared to push back against the world’s largest state sponsor of terror,” Pompeo said about Iran.
Pompeo was hastily sent to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Brian Hook is now in Oman and Bolton is in Israel. The U.S. will also pressure Europe and NATO to join a new ‘coalition of the willing’. The UK will likely follow any U.S. call as it needs a trade deal to survive after Brexit.
Other countries are best advised to stay out.
Cover photo: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, center, exits a plane on arrival to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
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NIAC co-Founder Trita Parsi weighed in on social media: