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Messages to Avert Confrontation with Iran: US-“Israeli” Options

Messages to Avert Confrontation with Iran: US-“Israeli” Options
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Jihad Haidar

A New York Times report revealed this week that US President Donald Trump explored the possibility of directing a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facility, Natanz. It is correct to assume that such considerations are the result of “Israeli” ambitions more than American ones. 

Iran does not pose a nuclear threat to the United States, but a nuclear Iran – even if it does not produce nuclear weapons in compliance with its religious position – poses a serious threat to “Israel’s” so-called national security. Had it not been for “Israeli” interests and demands, the Trump administration would not have pursued the maximum pressure campaign, which 'Israel’s' premier Benjamin Netanyahu has been pushing since former President Barack Obama’s term, in the hope that this would lead to the overthrow of the government in Tehran or impose US-“Israeli” conditions on Iran.

On the other hand, the rejection by Trump's advisers of the military option presented against Iran – at both the military and political levels – embodies the views of the general public in the United States. It also exposes additional indicators related to estimates and options that will be studied at the decision-making table regarding the next stage under the Biden administration.

The premise of the rejection of this option by Trump's aides is that any direct American military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities would easily lead, in their view, to a broad confrontation in the region in the last weeks of his presidency.

What is remarkable in this context is that those who warned Trump about this step and have so far succeeded in their endeavor are Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mike Milley.

This agreement among bureaucrats, extremist officials that harbor very hostile views toward the Islamic Republic and those closest to "Israel" reveals an eloquent acknowledgment and a resounding messages to "Tel Aviv" – the maximum sanctions imposed on Iran did not weaken the will of the Islamic regime. Tehran is still able to respond to an attack of this kind, even when it comes from a country the size of the United States and under the scenarios that military developments could roll into.

This also means that Iran was able to establish a strategic deterrence equation against the US. Throughout Trump's term and before him with President Obama and George W. Bush and during the occupation of Iraq in 2003, the US refrained from direct military strikes against territories of the Islamic Republic. 

Security operations have different equations and calculations based on professional assessments coupled with objective political assessments. The conclusion of those was that any direct military strike against Iran would drag the US into an open confrontation at a regional level.

When we go beyond the explanation behind Trump's request that is related to his personality there are actual objective dimensions related to “Israel’s” strategic environment. These are part of a serious impulse to try to amend the scene, and by Trump himself before his departure.

This assessment stems from the failure of his "maximum pressure" strategy to achieve one of two goals: to topple the regime or to subjugate Iran.

This is strongly present in Tel Aviv, and it was also confirmed by the director at the Tel Aviv University Institute for National Security Studies, Major General Amos Yadlin. In an article published by the “Israeli” Channel 2 website, Yaldin explains that “Trump's strategy on Iran has not achieved its objective. Today, Iran is closer to developing nuclear weapons than it was at the beginning of the Trump era.”

This echoes recent comments by the head of the Military Intelligence Directorate's Research Division, Brigadier General Dror Shalom. 

"Until now it has not been proven that exiting from the nuclear agreement has served ‘Israel’.” Shalom said and even went further when examining future prospects. “Iran is far from kneeling,” he added in an implicit reference to the scope of the challenge that Trump left for "Israel" and its allies in this region.

It seems clear that one of the most important pillars of the US-“Israeli” strategy in confronting Iran lies in betting on the success of the policy of incitement against the government.

Meanwhile, as Iran grows its deterrent capabilities and records defensive victories thanks on its military, missile program and its regional alliances, it is becoming increasingly difficult to convince the Iranian people to abandon their abilities, specifically the ones related to the missile system. "Israel" received some of its results through the strategic and operational deterrence equation imposed by Hezbollah.

The most important factor in all that has happened, and could happen, is "Israel’s" place in American policy, which isn’t limited to getting results. Rather, what Trump has implemented against Iran is a translation of a strategy that Netanyahu was marketing. It was based on a conviction that in the event that sanctions continued to be imposed on Iran, it would not dare violate the nuclear agreement. Hence, it will not be closer to producing nuclear weapons because it is deterred. The source of its deterrence is that it fears a US-“Israeli” reaction.

But what has been achieved on the ground is that Iran persevered, and its people rallied around the government and refused submission and sitting at the negotiating table according to American dictations. It also responded with a well-calculated action to violate the nuclear agreement, culminating in the Shura Council enacting a law obliging the government to raise the level of enrichment to 20% within the coming months.

The problem for "Israel" is that this path also culminates in the departure of Trump and his replacement by another president, who previously announced his intention to reach an amended agreement.

This means a different approach in the confrontation with Iran. What is certain is that the president-elect may be closer to the school of former President Barack Obama, who realized the limitations of US options when it comes to Iran.

The origin of concern in Tel Aviv over this reality is the following: The narrower the American options become, the narrower the options for "Israel", and in turn the options for their enemies expand.

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