Common sense would suggest Iran toning down its language and measures as domestic and international pressures increase.
One cannot claim Tehran’s rulers lack common sense, as many accused Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi. The Iranian regime has been in power for four decades and their mentality hinges on pragmatism with the sole objective of maintaining their existence to the utmost extent.
Sunday night, local time, Saudi civilians became the target of seven ballistic missiles fired by the Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen.
“The Iran-aligned Houthi rebels fired three missiles at Riyadh and four others at the southern cities of Khamis Mushait, Jizan and Najran,” according to reports.
Saudi Patriot missile air defense batteries were able to destroy at least one projectile heading for an urban area, reports indicate. These batteries are programmable to allow missiles headed for remote areas lacking civilian population to hit the ground, preventing the unnecessary deployment of costly Patriot missiles.
This turn of events is resulting in a long slate of negative international reactions.
The United Nations, a long slate of Middle East countries, the United States and European Union have condemned the missile attacks, recommitting their support for the Kingdom.
London, despite its history of seeking to maintain ties with Tehran and expanding economic relations, grilled the latest developments in strong terms.
“We question why Iran is spending significant revenue in a country with which it has no real historical ties or interests,” reads a joint statement from Foreign Minister Boris Johnson and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt.
The text also calls for Iran to stop transferring weapons into Yemen. This is a litmus test for Tehran to prove it favors ending the violence and establishing peace in the Arab World’s poorest country. A test the Iranian regime has and will continue to fail, considering its nature of trekking from one crisis to another.
In line with this argument, Iran’s regular army chief commander again voiced threats of total annihilation against Israel.
“We will finish off Israel’s life within less than 25 years,” said Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi referring to a comment by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
This goes alongside the necessity for senior Iranian regime officials to save face in times of increasing domestic unrest parallel to elevating international isolation.
“We must choose between hard & harder. If we don’t accept the hard methods, we will have to succumb to more difficult circumstances,” said Iran’s Deputy Trade Minister Ali Sarzaeem.
Such comments from Iran come as the Trump administration undergoes major reshuffling, with analysts believing increasing pressure on Iran is a major focus.
After more than a year’s work with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, President Donald Trump’s move to appoint CIA Director Mike Pompeo as his top diplomat is raising eyebrows across the globe, including most importantly in Tehran. Tillerson is well-known for convincing Trump, along with former National Security H.R. McMaster, to stick to the controversial Iran nuclear deal for a year.
With a new Secretary of State, and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton set to take over as National Security Advisor, many believe the coffin is completing for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the Iran nuclear agreement is formally known.
Tehran understands the unfolding situation is completely against its short- and long-term interests. Prior to the recent visit of French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to Tehran, the West was seeking major curbing of Iran’s ballistic missile program and Middle East meddling. Tehran turning down that offer and taking into consideration the latest string of developments, the entire JCPOA now hangs in the balance.
Despite what you might read in mainstream media or hear from Iranian officials thumping their chests, Tehran desperately needs the JCPOA to remain intact.
Domestic circumstances are changing significantly following the December protests surge across Iran. Tehran’s rulers understand better than anyone their apparatus lacks the capacity to withstand a return to pre-JCPOA sanctions. The status quo is taking its toll on the regime’s day-to-day affairs, let alone with sanctions suffocating the economy.
For this very reason Iran’s regime is testing waters, such as through increasing hostilities in Yemen. Tehran seeks to maintain a poker face and claim more such steps will come if the U.S. decides to exit the JCPOA. This goes alongside previous claims of relaunching 20% uranium enrichment in a matter of 48 hours.
Although what needs understanding, as Europe is beginning to, is that Trump is not Obama. And Iran’s regime is far weaker due to the recent uprising, alongside growing intensifying internal disputes.
As a result, the circumstances are ripe to increase pressure on Tehran with actions such as sanctioning the mullahs’ Central Bank and crippling the Revolutionary Guards.
The likes of these actions, and not foreign military intervention, will place Washington and the West shoulder to shoulder with the Iranian people in their struggle to set aside the mullahs and finally establish freedom and democracy.
The result of decades of appeasement is leaving no option but a firm policy vis-à-vis Tehran, and Washington is patching all loopholes.
Tehran comprehends these circumstances. If the mullahs’ back down from measures such as the recent Houthis’ missile attack, demands across the board will only increase.