Experts and observers warned that any party in the Gulf region would take an uncalculated step that could ignite a fierce war. As with the increased escalation between Iran and the United States , and after mysterious sabotage operations targeting oil tankers along the coasts of the UAE, the Houthi attack on the two oil pumping stations of Aramco No. 8 and 9, which support the flow of oil and gas through gas and oil pipelines from the eastern region through the provinces of Dawadmi and Afif, 220 km and 380 km west of the Saudi capital Riyadh , the risks of sliding the situation in the Gulf have become more dangerous than ever before.
Experts in the international relations see that the conflict of Washington with Iran will not be like the war of Iraq but worse ,and they indicated that despite the similarities , the conflict with Iran will not be just a repeat of 2003 Iraq war , but will be quite different in many ways, and certainly it will be much worse ., noting that Iran is at present a very different country compared to Iraq in 2003, and the way in which it may be engaged in the war is also very different.
The size of the area of Iran is three times larger than that of Iraq and far superior in the number of population, in addition to its land and sea power. The Iraqi army had strength of less than 450,000 when the invasion began, while Iran now has 523,000 troops and 250,000 reservists. They added that Iran, unlike Iraq, has a vast naval force and long borders on the Caspian Sea to the north, the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to the south; and it shares land borders with many of the United States’ troubling allies, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey and Iraq. The closure of the Strait of Hormuz will lead, which passes through about a third of the world’s oil tankers, to the reduction of oil exports by about 30 percent. They said that although Iran is far weaker than the USA in the conventional military aspect, it has long pursued strategies that could severely damage US interests in the region.
The Iranian navy has a real advantage over the United States, as it does not need large ships or firepower to close the Strait of Hormuz, but it can, for example, use mines or submarines to stop trade. Then there is Iran’s Ballistic Missile Program which is described as “the largest and most arsenals of diversified missiles in the Middle East,” and the threat of Iranian missile technology extends beyond the borders of the country also, where it is believed that the Lebanese Hezbollah has an arsenal estimated at 130 thousand rockets. They pointed out that the dispute between an American administration led by Republican President, Trump and the Middle East Power Like Iran, many observers mention the period before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, a move widely condemned in the following years as disastrous for all concerned.
In the field of military action, Iran also has at its disposal a range of possible methods of action: attacking US troops in Syria and mainly in Iraq through sub-organizations, launching rockets or carrying out military actions by sub-organizations from Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip against US interests in the Middle East or against Israel. It is worth to be mentioned that in the 1980s, Iran worked against the Marines in Beirut through Hezbollah, that it cost hundreds of lives. Iran was even accused by the United States of being responsible for the killing of 500 of its soldiers in Iraq after the second Gulf War; through Shiite militias directly linked to Tehran and used it.
Activities against the export of oil: Iran threatened to affect the freedom to sail in the straits of Hormuz. It can use the Houthis in Yemen to strike the sail in the Red Sea and affect the oil production on the Arab side of the Gulf by firing rockets, drones and subversive operations, including through Cyber (in this case as well, such as terrorism across branches, without advertising or Take responsibility).
Therefore, a diplomatic way out of the crisis must be sought. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Monday indicated that there are two risks in the tension between Iran and USA.” The first is a sudden confrontation between the two parties, each trying to escalate. The second risk is Iran’s return to the nuclear path. What Hunt did not say is that the two risks were caused by the escalation and pressure that the Trump administration has been exerting on the Iranian regime in recent months – a policy described by international relations experts as without a clear objective and without a positive outcome.
While Trump and his aides say they do not want a war, the actions they have taken in recent months, including trying to stop the export of Iranian oil and sanctions on steel, bullets and other products, put them dangerously on that path. As expected, the Islamic Republic responded by threatening and resuming uranium enrichment in large quantities. These are the serious steps that were halted after the signing of the nuclear agreement that Trump adopted a wise decision and cancelled it. According to US officials, Tehran is preparing for attacks against US forces in the Middle East or against commercial and military vessels in the Gulf. Attacks on four oil tankers in Gulf mouth on Sunday were not attributed to Iran. Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo said they were still investigating. If it were proved that Iran carried out the sabotage operations, then Pompeo will find himself under pressure to take the necessary action against Iran as he promised .”
At the same time, the Department of Defense (Pentagon) has come up with additional plans to deal with developments in the region, the New York Times reported, sending tens of thousands of US troops. The newspaper reported also that US intelligence has reported on Iran’s attempts to provoke the administration of Donald Trump for military action. The newspaper warns that the United States is not ready for a new conflict in the region. It has no support from NATO countries, not even Britain, Hunt said. The use of force will not stop Iran from resuming its nuclear activities or regime change unless the United States launches a full-scale military invasion. Trump will not find support for his campaign from the Americans and the reason is that until the start of the era of Trump, Iran was committed to the terms of the contract and posed no threat to the United States. Trump says he is interested in negotiating with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and it is not known whether the president’s aides agree with him. They have set a series of demands that they know Iran will not meet. Pompeo admitted the day earlier that America’s strategy would not push Iran to make concessions. “What will change is that the people will change the government,” he said.
For decades, the United States has been waiting for a revolution in Iran. Trump may find himself trapped in a corner where he chooses between the use of military force with negative consequences and allowing Iran to bypass the red line. To get out of the impasse, he must return to diplomacy in cooperation with his European allies. “The president must limit the power of his hawks and go that way before it is too late.”
On the other hand, the Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami said , that the military preparations at the highest levels, and that “the United States and the Zionist front will taste the bitterness of defeat.” In a speech during his participation in the event in Tehran on Wednesday, during which he discussed the growing tension between Tehran and Washington , according to the official Iranian Agency ” Irna” . he addressed the US threats saying : Iran’s military and defense preparations are at the highest level against any threat,” he said, referring to the failure of Washington’s plans in the region after the recent defeats of militant groups in countries such as Syria and Iraq. He added that Americans following these outrageous defeats, the Americans resorted to launch a comprehensive economic war against the Iranian people. “He explained that Iran always foils conspiracies of Washington. Adding that “the United States and the Zionist front will taste the bitterness of defeat this time also.”
Therefore, experts warn in the international relations of the ignition of the Gulf, and sees the Iranian affairs official in the International Crisis Group in Washington Ali Waedh sees that the possibility of a confrontation, even without provocative work, “high,” considering that the fact that each party believes that the other does not want war increases the risk of confrontation, as there is a margin for misinterpretation, especially in the absence of channels of communication between the two parties. The Waedh added it is likely that the USA to launch a limited military offensive against Iran, which in its part may respond in a limited manner, while the two parties hope that everyone will keep calm to avoid a major confrontation. In the research and outlook section in the Economist group in London , Agath Dumaria , says ” there are risks of actual ignition of war ” and she added “If no one ignites the situation and it does not lead to a war, tensions will continue as long as Donald Trump remains president. It will be in the interest of the hawks of American foreign policy to adopt a tough policy to divert attention of the voters from the American economy,” he said. . In his part, Jean-Sylvester Mgrognier of the French-Belgian Thomas Moore institute believes that the region is experiencing a dual state of war and peace, with varying intensity and successive crises without settling the fundamental problems. He wonders “How long can the benefits of Payment in cash are postponed ?” Referring to a war.
On the other hand, Middle East adviser at the French Institute for International Relations Donnie Bushar says that US and Israeli military leaders are trying to calm the situation, and Iran is committed to restraint, but there are reckless on both sides, such as White House national security adviser John Bolton and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Bouchar warns that the spark could erupt from the allies of the two countries or from others, such as the Houthis targeting Saudi oil tanker in the Red Sea, the response will be to Iran itself, especially as the Americans vowing Tehran to respond “strongly against any attack against the interests of the United States or its allies.”
Commenting on the mysterious sabotage acts in which the ships off coast of the UAE were exposed to two days ago , Anne Sophie –Marie , Risky &Co.’srisk analyst says “There are a lot of unknown things in these attacks,” . “Among the hypotheses is that Saudis and Emiratis were the ones who prepared the attacks in order to drag the Americans to respond militarily to Iran. ” Another assumption is that the Iranians themselves or their proxies did so, but Mary ruled out the third hypothesis that a terrorist group might have committed sabotage.
In conclusion, the US policy of maximum pressure on Iran and its determination not to allow Iran to touch American soldiers and interests in the Middle East, in a way that is done the past without a price from Iran, and Iran’s decision to exit from “strategic patience” , involves the possibility of escalation and misjudgment that would have great impact on the interests of the USA in the Middle East and to the security of its allies, first and foremost Israel.
International Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies