Let’s take a re-cap of Iranian defiance against the USA in the past week. This will not be the first time Iran threatens the USA arrogantly, but the incidents of the past week are the first reported Iranian defiant acts against the USA since the election of Trump.
Iran aimed, once again, against American armed forces. This time, against American helicopters. Quoting US defense officials, the description of this event in theguardian is intriguing: “A small Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard vessel pointed its weapon at a US military helicopter in the Strait of Hormuz at the weekend”. Reuters reporting on this incident also stressed that President elect Trump vowed during his campaign that “any Iranian vessel that harassed the U.S. Navy in the Gulf would be ‘shot out of the water'”. They also quoted officials saying that this incident “could be seen as an escalation”. Iran then went on to blame the US for this incident, claiming that ‘The U.S. military presence in the Gulf poses the main risk of conflict in the region”, as reported in Reuters. Unidentified officials in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard went a step further stating that “Everybody knows that the main problem in the Persian Gulf is the U.S. presence”. Now we understand, the mere US presence is a bother to the Iranians.
Their rhetoric this week was not less sharpened than their gunners. In a myriad of media reports, we learned of Iranian threats against the USA if the Iran Sanctions Act is renewed. In voanews it is reported that the Supreme Leader stated “Iran will not stand by idly”. In politico the promise of Iranian retaliation is highlighted. The wsj and the washingtonpost termed it, rightfully so, an open threat and a warning.
In light of the fact that the Senate did ratify and renew the Iran Sanctions Act last week, unanimously (see politico), it would seem that this threat becomes real and tangible. One can only assume that President Obama will not exercise his veto authority on this. Even if he does, due to the overwhelming Congressional support he may be unable to prevent an extension of the existing sanctions as Congress will be able to override Obama’s veto.
The weeklystandard already related to the Iranian issue as a test to the Trump administration, in the context of the untrustworthiness of the UN reports regarding Iranian nuclear activity.
We would go one step further and dare to claim that the Iranian issue is topping the list and seems to be turning into the biggest foreign affairs and defense challenge. How many countries in the world have threatened the US and aimed at US military, in the past week? How many in the past month or year? Iran stands out in its defiance posing perhaps the biggest test to the new Trump administration.