Iran will soon have to make decisions in real time

Commentary Materials 27 May 2019 15:25 (UTC +04:00)
When experts say that both sides, the US and Iran, do not want a military solution, they are probably right. However, the reasons for each side are different.
Iran will soon have to make decisions in real time

Baku, Azerbaijan, May 27

By Azer Ahmadbayli – Trend:

When esteemed experts say that both sides – the US and Iran – do not want a military solution, they are probably right. However, the reasons for both sides are different.

The United States uses the tactics of anaconda, strangling Iran's economy by its coils and seeing that it works.

Turkey and India – being among the last importers of Iranian oil – officially announced that they stopped buying it.

Iran halted to reveal information about oil exports. However, data from various international sources, such as Refinitiv Eikon, SVB Energy International, OPEC and Reuters, show that the sales volume is an average 400-450 thousand barrels per day, including condensate.

This figure, if accurate, is twice less than the lowest pre-JCPOA (The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) volumes for 2014 and 2015, when Iran’s export was about 1 million b/d.

It is important for the US to preserve the current status-quo, although the White house does not exclude its sliding to a use of force, accumulating large forces in the Persian Gulf region.

Also, Iran's rejection of some provisions of the nuclear deal gives the US administration a reason to expect that one day the EU will return to the pre-JCPOA status quo and join the sanctions.

As the Iranian leadership believes, from the parties to the nuclear agreement only Russia and China fulfill their obligations, while the EU has failed to keep its promises to save the deal and facilitate Iran’s economic trade with the international community.

In his statement on May 21, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi sent a clear message to Europe in ironic manner, saying that Tehran is ready to fully support JCPOA and implement it exactly like France and other European signatories. Mousavi’s message came in response to his French counterpart’s statement that Paris strongly urges Iran to continue to implement all of its obligations under the JCPOA.

If there are no tangible results in 60 days, that is, if the EU's trade relations with Iran are not restored, Tehran will resume uranium enrichment. This is likely to mean death of the nuclear agreement. Given the EU's ambiguous stance, it’s just coming.

How can Tehran respond?

In the first place, among Tehran’s assets, there are armed groups of the multinational Shia militia operating in the entire region, ensuring Iranian influence.

On the official website of the Washington Institute, there is an interesting interactive map, arranged by Phillip Smyth, and showing positions of Shia militia in the Middle East. If you do not know the content and simply look at the map, it may seem that this is about the conquests by the Islamic State – so similar are the territories controlled by Shia troops in Iraq and Syria, and the density of their forces.

This is a very powerful force. They will try to take the US military hostage wherever possible. The similar idea has been voiced by Iran’s IRGC (Iranian revolutionary Guard Corps) spokesman Ramezan Sharif, who said that US soldiers in the region will be captured by the Revolutionary Guard if they transgress against his country.

But, in the end, this will not help, let alone drone attacks of the Yemeni Houthies. If deprived of unified command and financing as a result of war, most of the Shia armed troops will likely turn into unaccountable semi-criminal mercenaries.

There are still ballistic missiles with high precision guidance, which Iran possesses, but in general, Tehran is well-aware that the US-Iran military capacities are incomparably unequal. Therefore, Iran does not want a war, too.

On Monday May 27, at a joint press conference with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, President Trump has made peaceful statements regarding Iran, saying that he did not want to see terrible things happen and that he was not looking for a regime change in Iran. Instead, he wants to see no nuclear weapons and believes that one day the parties will make a deal.

“I do believe that Iran would like to talk, and if they would like to talk, we would like to talk also,” Trump said.

Tehran is still silent...maybe because today, on May 27, is a day-off in Iran, or maybe because the top Iranian leadership, having obtained another chance to come to terms, is holding heated discussions about which way to go.

However, the “coils of anaconda” are constricting more and more tightly. There may soon be a time when Iran will not be able to plan further action and will have to make decisions in real time, where there is a probability to make a critical mistake.