The possible initiation by Donald Trump, toward the end of his term, of open or covert operations against Iran, or other adversaries located in the Middle East (then again, just like those in other regions of the world), is unfortunately turning into more of a reality.
To accomplish this, as American media outlets highlight, Mike Pompeo is closely monitoring events in Iraq, and the actions taken by Iran, on the lookout for any hints of aggression on the part of Iran or its militias targeted toward American diplomats and military personnel. The US Secretary of State is in close contact with Israel and its other allies in the Middle East on these issues, and even went on an overseas tour of seven countries for this purpose, clearly intending to find a way to try to implement solutions that Biden would find it difficult to backtrack on with his future Middle East policy. At the same time, such actions of Pompeo not only represent how he is distinctly fulfilling instructions given by current President Trump, but also clearly show his personal long-term project, taking into account the political ambitions he has already declared in terms of running for president in 2024.
As far as the real steps go for the Trump administration’s policy to take a harder line in the Middle East, additional sanctions have already been passed against Iran, and plans have been drawn up to potentially close the US Embassy in Baghdad, due to concerns about potential threats. According to the opinion held by American officials as stated in publication The New York Times, the course of action taken by the United States could significantly change if an American is killed before Inauguration Day, seeing as M. Pompeo recently made it clear that “the death of an American will become line in the sand that provokes a military response”.
For now, just like the recent times when it prepared for armed aggression toward Iraq and Libya, Washington and its allies have already launched an information and propaganda campaign to justify the possibility of this aggression toward Iran after the Islamic Republic commissioned high-technology centrifuges to do uranium enrichment work at its underground plant in Natanz. For example, and clearly at Washington’s suggestion, the British The Guardian – and subsequently quite a few other media outlets that support Washington’s policy, have already begun to spin the propagandist idea that “this step may be considered to be a provocation directed at the Donald Trump administration, which fairly recently considered the possibility of carrying out strikes on a nuclear facility in the Islamic republic”. At the same time, emphasis is being placed on justifying new acts of aggression against Iran due to the fact that Iranian authorities “unfailingly violate” the restrictions established by the nuclear treaty, without saying a word that it was the United States, not Iran, that revoked the validity – and the restrictions – outlined in the agreement. To bolster the thesis it puts forth about Tehran violating the nuclear agreement, Washington and London are also actively leveraging the affirmation made by the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency on November 18 that Iran has begun to operate centrifuges installed at a new underground facility.
As far as the Islamic Republic is concerned, they do not deny that they stand in violation of the nuclear deal. However, Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Iran, proclaimed: “If the United States fulfills its obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 2231, then Iran will honor its responsibilities under the nuclear deal. This could be done automatically, without any need for negotiation. If the US wishes to rejoin the nuclear deal, then we will be ready to hold talks on how the US can re-enter the deal.”
It is no secret to anyone that Israel is the “calling the shots” in whipping up the situation with respect to Iran. That is why it comes as no surprise that it was precisely the topic of opposing Iran that was the main one featured during M. Pompeo’s recent visit to Israel (incidentally, as in other countries on his last “foreign tour”). Before leaving Israel on November 21, Mike Pompeo bluntly stated to the The Jerusalem Post that “to keep Iran’s nuclear ambitions in check, all options are still on the table for the current White House administration”.
In these conditions, the prospect of US military action against Iran in the time that remains before Donald Trump leaves the White House is, unfortunately, becoming more and more real. A wave of publications has already passed through the world’s media outlets concerning the interest expressed by US President Donald Trump, during a meeting in the Oval Office on November 12 with high-ranking advisers, in what options he could take against the main nuclear facility in Iran over the upcoming weeks. So far, as American media outlets report, Trump’s advisers have managed to dissuade the US president from pushing through the idea of an armed strike on Iran, warning that this would result in a wider-reaching conflict in his last weeks in office.
The fact that any US attack on Iran would lead to a full-scale war was announced to Western media and representatives from US government authorities by Hossein Dehghan, by Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, and by Ali Rabiei, the Spokesperson of the Government of Iran.
Nevertheless, Israel continues to push Washington to launch armed strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities, and to supply Tel Aviv with bunker busters – something that was mentioned in a bill introduced to the US Congress before. At the same time, Israel harbors expectations – even before the Trump administration leaves the White House – about neutralizing a significant part of Iran’s striking capabilities, whose backbone is formed by medium-range ballistic missiles housed in underground facilities. However, military experts note that this issue cannot be just confined to providing the Israelis with these kinds of bombs to inflict unacceptable damage on a potential enemy, since using them requires the appropriate delivery vehicles: for example, B-1 or B-52 bombers. Although the previous administration under Barack Obama refused to send this assistance to Israel, Donald Trump’s team is not quite as categorical when it comes to this issue, although the US clarified that it only has 18 B-1 bombers itself that are capable of carrying heavy bunker busters.
Regarding the possibility of Israel attacking Iran on its own, it would be appropriate to recall how General H.R. McMaster, former US National Security Adviser to President Donald Trump, did not rule that option out were Israel to “perceive a threat from Iran, even during the last days when the Trump administration is still in power”. At the same time, McMaster took note of Israel’s adherence to the Begin Doctrine, which means that the Israelis will never come to terms with the presence of weapons of mass destruction in a hostile country, and will use any means it can to suppress attempts on the part of Iran to create or obtain weaponry like that. This doctrine has already been put into practice by Tel Aviv in June 1981, when it executed strikes on the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq, and then again in September 2007, at facilities in Syria where, according to the military intelligence services in the Jewish state, development work on nuclear weapons was being performed.
Under these conditions, the fact that on November 21 the United States redeployed several B-52H Stratofortress strategic bombers from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to the Middle East is something that is noteworthy. The US military has already stated that the purpose for delivering the B-52 strategic bombers was “to contain aggression and to affirm support for US partners and allies”. It will not be superfluous to recall how the last time strategic air forces were redeployed from the United States to the Middle East was at the beginning of this year, after Iranian General Qasem Soleimani was assassinated, and the Iranian retaliatory attack on US bases in Iraq.
Taking into account what is mentioned above, and the fact that Israel is considered the main regional partner for the United States – and Iran is the main potential enemy – it is not difficult to guess what the true potential objective is for transferring these B-52 bombers.
Valery Kulikov, political expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.