Iran on the brink of disaster

Iran may be on the verge of proving that history may well repeat itself through its arrogance or ignorance. On Sunday, in a show of publicity Iranian lawmakers voted to raise spending on the nation’s missile program and elite forces. It is a show of publicity because the Iran parliament is just a show piece. It has no role or influence in the decision making process.

The publicity may have been intended to placate the growing fear among Iranians or as an act of deterrence. In both instances however it has served to show the world that Iran is scared.

Iran is scared because of the escalating dispute that it has instigated with America. Spending more on the nation’s missile program and elite forces will not bolster the twin pillars of the security establishment that are at the center of this dispute. Looking at the Iranian parliament’s decision shows just how scared Iran really is.

The parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve a bill sanctioning an additional 20 trillion rials ($609 million) for Iran’s missile program and the Qods Force arm of the Revolutionary Guards. The legislation cited “hostile” American policies against Iran and American “adventurism in the region.” The bill needs to be approved by Iran’s Guardian Council, a body of Islamic law experts and jurists, in order to take effect.

The vote is clearly a panic reaction to American President Donald Trump’s expanded sanctions on Iran that are being supported by Iran’s Persian Gulf rivals. Also on the horizon is Trump’s intentions to sink the 2015 nuclear accord negotiated by former American President Obama. The 2015 seven-party agreement was aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program. It has led to increased Iranian oil sales and investor interest in Iran but has not reduced tension relating to Iran’s nuclear intentions.

At the time in 2015 it was heralded as a basis for talks on easing clashes over Mideast flashpoints. However it has proved to be one-sided in Iran’s favor to the detriment of regional security and stability. Iranian missile tests and overseas military interventions are in breach of its spirit.

In responding one option for America and its allies is to propose and if need be implement a regime change in Iran. This is a standard operating procedure for a super power such as America who has proved time and time again that it can do so. The Iranian people are not the target and are clearly victims of the aggressive intentions and nature of the Iranian regime.

Iran led by President Hassan Rouhani is therefore on the brink of a disaster. While the Iranian Parliament thinks that the missile program is serving to project power and show strength it is achieving the opposite. The entire Middle East and increasingly the Persian Gulf region is incredibly volatile.

Increased spending and provocative publicity such as the Iranian parliament in voting over this legislation only serve to stoke the fire even further. Instead of reducing tensions Iran is now facing an ever increasingly likelihood of a military strike against it by America and other Gulf states.

Such Iranian chest thumping could have been ignored as just hot air but daily Iranian provocations against American military forces may well also spark an unintentional armed conflict. This is exampled by Iranian unmanned drones that operate without navigation lights in close proximity to nuclear powered American aircraft carrier such as the USS Nimitz during night operations in the central Persian Gulf. Such activity creates a dangerous situation with the potential for collision and is not in keeping with international maritime customs and laws.

So the two acts of daily provocation and the passing of a legislative bill move Iran ever closer to a military confrontation. No side is indicating stepping back. Iran has indicated that if America applies further sanctions regarding the 2015 multi-party nuclear deal then the Iranian government will be bound to react. America has indicated that Iranian bellicose intentions, actions and statements require a regime change. The last time the world saw such a stand-off was in the days leading to the American led regime change of Saddam’s Iraq. Both then and now the true winner is Israel, whose security is enhanced when such regimes cease.


About the Author
Dr Glen Segell is Fellow at the Ezri Center for Iran & Persian Gulf Studies, University of Haifa.
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