Will Trump Try to Pull an October Surprise with Iran in 2020?

Recently, a historic peace deal between Israel and the UAE and potentially with other Persian Gulf states such as Bahrain has been announced in Jerusalem and in Washington.  This has been in the works for some two years at least.  If you watch the video attached to the above link, Donald Trump makes a startling statement — that the Iranians want to make a deal with him.  To quote Clint Eastwood, is the president simply “a legend in his own mind?”  A short little kimchi eating dictator in North Korea has made the fairly stable genius eat great amounts of humble pie in the last three years.  Will the Ayatollah Khameini make the “dotard” do so as well?

One of the continual hallmarks of failed US policies in the region is hubris.  Really, in the minds of any administration, not just that of dumb Donald and the coterie of sycophantic suck-ups you saw in the video, the complex Middle Eastern conundrum between Israel and the various Muslim states (as well as conflicts between the various Muslim actors) can be solved by Uncle Sam.

Since the administration of Harry Truman, the US record in bringing peace to our region has been  abysmal.  Even the historic peace treaties between Israel and Egypt and Jordan have needed their skids greased with generous amounts of US weapons and military aid (not exactly a help to sustained and real peace in the region). Weapons usually get used.  Certainly, peace has been good for the arms industries in America.  However, war is usually even better for business.  Either way, they are open for business.

Most people don’t know that Israel signed an environmental treaty with Libya known as the Barcelona Convention. Our partner, Moammar Qaddafi, was killed in a US backed revolt in 2011.  The Convention was not just environmental in scope, but dealt also with the original Law of the Seas that was updated by the United Nations.  Israel signed on in 1978 and the treaty came into force with Libya in 1979.  All of this was before the much heralded Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt in 1979 because the Barcelona Convention was originally signed in 1976.  It was in existence already and simply had to be ratified by a new state.  The Convention needed no weapons deals to ensure that European and United Nations diplomats could expand the original agreement to include the Middle Eastern nations of the Mediterranean basin, including Syria and Lebanon.  As usual, the UN labors quietly and with little fanfare.  The neo-cons and neo-liberals haven’t screwed up all of our back channels, but they’re working on it.

Certainly, Qaddafi was no Teddy bear, but then neither are the strong men in Egypt and Jordan.  Even Qaddafi could have a good day and realized that the enemy of his enemy (in this case environmental disaster) might not be his friend, but could at least be eliminated from his unofficial enemy list, directing resources to his civilian population, therefore stabilizing his regime’s base.  Till the “revolution” and the civil war that toppled him, Libya led Africa in leading demographic metrics such as a low infant death rate and long life expectancy.  Since then, the country has become a failed state akin to Somalia.  Thanks so much Hillary and Barack.  Hillary is reported to have danced with joy when she saw the snuff video on YouTube. The video is still there.  I guess you can’t demonetize the Telegraph.  The Libyan people salute you Hillary, as do those of the Syrian killing fields

Now, to a possible Iran deal.  Just as with Iran-Contra, this could be a potentially tasty morsel for US arms manufacturers in a time of economic depression.  What most US policy wogs won’t acknowledge publicly and still don’t understand fully is that most everything in this complex region happens through the “back channel.” Even at the height of Israeli relations with the Iranian regime under the Shah (including full diplomatic and military relations), many deals were unofficial and plausibly deniable for obvious reasons given the religious volatility of our area.  Even Shah Reza Pahlavi himself did not sit securely on the Peacock throne.  He had to keep relations with the Jewish state on “the back channel,” if not on the back burner.

For all of you generation Xers, you might remember the Iran-Contra Affair that soiled the reputation of the great tough guy Ronald Reagan.  I am not interested in the Nicaraguan and the Contra part of this arms mess.  What I want to zone in on was the back channel between the US, Israel and Iran. Israel was a covert conduit for US weapons to Iran.  Various other reports were made that such weapons came from Israel to Iran starting in 1981 for small arms and for more lethal HAWK anti-aircraft missiles and TOW anti-tank missiles promised by then presidential candidate Ronald Reagan in secret 1980 negotiations with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni.  It was reported that this led to the holding of the hostages from the US Embassy in Tehran until Reagan’s inauguration speech.

It is hard to that believe weapons would come from Israel to Iran without at least some tacit approval in some US quarter, in or out of power.  While these are only allegations, it was proven in the official US Congressional investigation into the Iran-Contra Affair that the Israeli back channel for US weapons to Iran went back at least to 1985 and only ended with the program’s exposure in 1986.  When push comes to shove, the US will do a deal, usually with generous amounts of weapons grease on those skids.  This was applied with gusto by Israel.

On a number of fronts, Donald Trump is beleaguered in his contentious election in 2020.  Joe Biden is coming close to besting him in what may be a landslide victory.  The UN just let the arms embargo on Iran expire.  While he says he will negotiate with Iran in January, perhaps desperation may drive him to do a deal in 2020 with Khameini before then, at least covertly. He tried to make an end run around Biden in the Ukraine.  Perhaps Iran is just another piece on the global chess board.  After all, Trump may have nothing to lose.

The Iranians also now have no UN arms embargo holding them back.  They are less concerned with the Saudis who are mired in Yemen.  Rather, they are more concerned with Wahabi nut jobs in the Taliban who will inevitably take total control in Afghanistan once the US fully pulls out.  Al-Qaeda as well ISIS terrorism are major concerns for the stability of the Tehran regime.  Adversity makes strange bed fellows.  Perhaps the adulterous President Trump will be drawn to this bed as well. It took less to convince him to eat with Kim Jong Un.  Perhaps he is ordering Persian food to get ready for a summit with an Ayatollah or for a simple unofficial chat through the back channel, just as Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s.

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About the Author
Akiva ben Avraham is a former community college adjunct, US Army intelligence analyst and officer, and a caregiver.
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