(Jerusalem, Israel) — Do the mullahs and ayatollahs in Iran want a war with the U.S.?
Or do they believe the current American President is likely to follow the way of most presidents for the last several decades and back down in the face of Iranian aggression?
I wish the mounting tensions were nothing more than the fiction of my latest thriller, The Persian Gamble. But the situation in real-life is actually becoming very serious.
Consider the latest Iranian moves, and U.S. counter-moves.
- June 20: Iran shoots down a U.S. reconnaissance drone that was operating in international waters over the Persian Gulf.
- June 20: Iranian-backed terrorists in Yemen fire missile at Saudi Arabia, damaging a desalinization plant.
- June 17: Iran vows to dramatically increase the amount of uranium it will enrich, in direct violation of the nuclear deal which is still in force between Iran and European countries (the U.S. withdrew from the deal in May 2018).
- June 13: Iran sabotages two oil tankers operating in the Gulf.
- June 12: Iranian-backed terrorists in Yemen fired missiles at a civilian airport in southern Saudi Arabia, wounding 26 people.
- April 22: Iran threatens to close down the Strait of Hormuz with force.
In response, the U.S. is ratcheting up the pressure on Iran:
- On Monday, the U.S. will impose “major” new economic sanctions on Iran.
- June 20: President Trump almost orders military strikes against Iran, but holds back at last moment.
- June 18: The U.S. announces it will send 1,000 more troops to the Middle East.
- June 10: The Pentagon sends more B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf in preparation for possible operations against Iran.
- June 9: The Pentagon orders U.S. aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf.
- May 24: The U.S. announces it will send 1,500 more troops to the Middle East, and sell $8.1 billion in new weapons systems to Arab allies — Jordan, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
- May 11: The Pentagon deploys Patriot missile defense batteries to the Gulf.
- May 10: The Pentagon sends B-52 bombers and a Marine Expeditionary Unit to the Persian Gulf in anticipation of possible attacks on Iran.
- May 9: On May 9, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warns Iran that “our restraint to this point should not be mistaken by Iran for a lack of resolve.” He adds: “The regime in Tehran should understand that any attacks by them or their proxies of any identity against U.S. interests or citizens will be answered with a swift and decisive U.S. response.”
Some commentators have been sharply critical of President Trump for not launching military strikes on Iran in recent days. I see it differently. As I Tweeted over the weekend, “I have no problem with President Trump showing some restraint. No one can say this President isn’t being tough on Iran. The key is for Trump and his national security team to continue ratchet up the pressure on Iran and run their strategy on their own timetable, not Iran’s.”
In a follow-up Tweet, I noted, “The President and his national security team are doing a good job bringing maximum pressure on the ayatollahs of Iran and bringing U.S. allies along step-by-step. If your overall policy is right, it’s not weakness to show patience and not be trigger happy.”
The current White House goal: persuade the Iranian regime to give up its nuclear program, its long-range missile program, and its support for terrorism in the Middle East and around the world — and persuading European allies to join the U.S. in scrapping the nuclear deal and imposing crippling economic sanctions on Iran.
Ultimately, the goal should be to remove the tyrannical regime from power and replace it will moderates. Hopefully, economic pressure and diplomacy will suffice. But the U.S. and our allies must be ready for military action if necessary.
Let’s pray it is not necessary.
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