Intelligence reports join think tanks join journalists in the prediction of a collision course between the US and Iran. Not only in words but also in action. Not just through proxies, but directly. Not only in one zone, but possibly, in several arenas.
The US world-wide threat assessment report of the US intelligence community, issued May 11, asserts in relation to Iran: “The Islamic Republic of Iran remains an enduring threat to US national interests because of Iranian support to anti-US terrorist groups and militants, the Assad regime, Houthi rebels in Yemen, and because of Iran’s development of advanced military capabilities”. “Iran continues to be the foremost state sponsor of terrorism and, with its primary terrorism partner, Lebanese Hezbollah, will pose a continuing threat to US interests and partners world-wide”.
In the Saudi led summit held in Riyadh May 21, with the participation of President Trump, the rhetoric tensions reached a new level. In his speech, President Trump accused Iran of spreading destruction and chaos in the entire region. President Rouhani, following the elections, antagonized with increased verbal attacks, as reported in the nytimes and in the washingtonpost. Rouhani mocked Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia terming it “just a show”, and “took barbed swipes at the US and its ally Saudi Arabia“. It would be a mistake to assume that the build-up is only rhetoric. It goes far beyond.
As pointed out by foreignpolicy, the confrontation between Iran and the US has already reached military cross-fire. In the May 18 US airstrike in Syria, American F-16’s targeted a convoy of Iranian armed Shiite fighters, marking the first time the US deliberately hit Iran proxies. Looking toward the future – the probability of further clashes is only rising, as we witness growing conflicting interests in an increasing amount of zones.
As the Islamic State’s grip on territory weakens, the United States and Iran are increasingly at odds, as their local partners vie for control of key terrain along the Syria-Iraq border. In Southern Syria – as the Iranians perceive the US opposing their ambition to secure a corridor linking Tehran and Baghdad to Syria and Lebanon. farsnews reported on the deployment of Hezbollah forces and other militias by Iran at Al-Tanf (at the Syrian-Iraqi border) in order to obstruct US plans. Foreign Policy predicts further that when the fight moves to the Euphrates valley in Deir Ezzor, the risks of an unintended conflict grow even more. Given also that the US is increasing its activity significantly in Iraq with “close proximity” to Iranian supported militias, as reported in an additional foreignpolicy article, the risk increases further.
Other explosive issues include the Iranian insistence on continued ICBM development and launches (despite violation of UN resolutions, justified defiantly by Rouhani), the persistent US Iran naval altercations and the politically motivated arrest of dual citizens.
Everywhere you look you can see the signs of a collision course. Perhaps business seekers in Iran should be aware of this.