[size=32]Iran-Saudi crisis after Aramco attacks and possible escalation
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Determinants of US behavior in the crisis with Iran
A set of considerations in the administration of President Donald Trump's policy regarding the gradual escalation of Iran, the most important of which is the president's position of refusing to engage in any new war that is not directly related to American interests, is based on his administration's "national security strategy," based on his campaign slogan. “America First”. During his 2016 election campaign, Trump has pledged to withdraw US troops from many conflict areas in the world, particularly from the Middle East, but has had little success in this regard. He even found himself forced to send more troops to Afghanistan, for example, in 2017, as well as deploying additional troops in the Persian Gulf in May and July 2019, in an effort to deter Iran from carrying out attacks that threaten freedom of navigation in the region.
But Trump does not want to look like the president's weak face to Iran, especially since he did not
"Trump refuses to get involved in any new war that is not directly related to American interests," he is reluctant to accuse former US presidents of having "lost faith in American greatness." Obama has often called for weak and reluctant policies in the world, making America's opponents dare. Trump finds himself embarrassed by the hawks of the Republicans and his allies in Israel and Saudi Arabia.He has made significant threats against Iran, but is now begging for a dialogue with it under the sanctions he reimposed after he unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018, which Iran understands is a surrender of abolition. Agreement and subject to sanctions. This behavior has greatly weakened the image Trump tried to establish for himself, as a “big deal maker” from a position of strength. Iran has also increased its challenge to Trump, and instead of bowing to sanctions and returning to the negotiating table, it is gradually escalating to raise the cost to him, forcing him to retreat from his policies towards it.
Saudi Considerations Saudi Arabia
finds itself facing a dilemma no less difficult than the one facing Trump. At the start of the crisis, Saudi Arabia was pushing for a military confrontation between Washington and Tehran in the hope that it would put an end to Iran's expansionist policies in the region. Over time, however, Saudi Arabia began to realize that it could pay a high price in such a confrontation, especially as confidence eroded in the US position, and the Trump administration's reluctance and reluctance to engage in a full-scale military confrontation with Iran became apparent. Recent attacks on Saudi Arabia have increased their vulnerability to threats. Despite large arms deals and Saudi military spending, which ranks third globally after the US and China alone, Saudi Arabia has been largely powerless in the face of air strikes, whether from Yemen or the north.
According to US reports, Saudi suspicions about Trump's intentions to counter the Iranian escalation that targeted it prompted Riyadh to formally ask Washington not to ignite a regional war, of which the kingdom would be the first affected, or its main arena. The Saudi request, leaked by the Trump administration, came through Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khaled bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud during his recent visit to Washington in late August 2019. Instead of beating the drums of war, bin Salman asked US officials to continue with the sanctions approach. On the grounds that the U.S.-imposed `` extreme pressures '' economic policy, imposed in August 2018, is effective in undermining the stability of the Tehran regime, which may be involved in a limited war, to divert the attention of the Iranian people from domestic crises to external threats.
Saudi fears of US let-down appear realistic - a series of attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf in May and June 2019 did not generate a US military response. Iran's downing of a U.S. drone in June 2019 - the United States insisted it was flying over the Strait of Hormuz, not in Iranian airspace - did not change the US position. After Washington resolved its decision to launch a retaliatory military strike on Iran, Trump retreated at the last minute; claiming that the rhythm of Iranian deaths is a disproportionate response to the downing of a drone, and instead to launch a "cyber" attack, Trump claimed to have done great damage to Iran's Missile. Finally, the attacks on Aramco's facilities on September 14 unequivocally revealed Trump's inability to engage in a confrontation with Iran as long as it did not directly affect US forces in the region.
Saudi Arabia's image in Washington does not look much better than the image of Iran, which makes it more difficult to defend it if attacked. Riyadh suffers from the shrinking base of its allies in the US Congress that
“Trump finds himself embarrassed by the hawks of the Republicans and his allies in Israel and Saudi Arabia.” Abuses committed in the Yemen war since 2015, prompting Congress to vote by a bipartisan majority in May 2019 on a resolution barring the United States from continuing to support the Saudi-UAE alliance, and Trump has been forced to veto it. Add to this the repercussions of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was a US citizen, at his country's consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. Moreover, the human rights file in the kingdom continues to draw widespread criticism in Washington and the world.
Riyadh justifies its intention not to respond directly to the attack, which Iran accuses of launching against Aramco's oil facilities by coordinating with Washington and obtaining its approval. The United States has hundreds of troops stationed in Saudi Arabia and has thousands more deployed in bases and military parts in the Gulf. This makes them vulnerable to retaliatory attacks from Iran. This makes the decision to respond to Iran practically in the hands of the United States, the Saudis say, although US officials assert that Washington has sold Riyadh many sophisticated weapons that would enable it to respond to the Iranian attack, if it really wants to.
Based on these considerations, the US Treasury announcement on September 20, 2019, to impose further sanctions on Tehran, followed by the Pentagon's announcement of reinforcing its forces and air and missile defense equipment in the region in response to the Aramco attack, may be The best that Washington and Riyadh want to do at the current stage, in the hope that Iran will stop taking further escalation.
Background Washington's reluctance in the face of Iranian escalation
There are important factors pushing the US administration, especially the Pentagon, to deal with great caution in the crisis with Iran, the most important of which: the
fear that any limited strike on Iran would spark a full-scale war in the region, involving it
“Saudi fears of American betrayal are realistically justified” by the United States along with its allies. In a limited strike, Iran is likely to use its proxy network stretching from Yemen to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, which could jeopardize US bases, military parts and interests. If that happens, the United States will find itself forced to mobilize a large military force to defeat Iran; which means a new war in the Middle East, and enter a scenario worse than the scenario of Iraq.
The administration also fears that it might serve the hard-line in Iran if it is hit by a military strike. It could eliminate any chances to re-negotiate the Iranian nuclear deal.
According to the American intelligence community's assessment, the Iranian regime, which is suffering from a decline in its popularity due to the impact of economic sanctions, seeks to entice the United States to a limited military attack, to increase its popularity internally, and strengthen its strategic position externally, and therefore the Trump administration does not want to give this paper .
Regardless of the circumstantial considerations that govern US behavior in response to the Iranian escalation, the recent crisis has exposed a profound change in the US approach to Gulf security and the limits of its commitment to it. This change did not begin with the Trump administration, but the Obama administration established it; On the other hand, the US is becoming less dependent on Gulf oil today, producing 12 million barrels of oil per day, and buying only 9% of Saudi oil imports from abroad. This does not mean that the Gulf region has completely lost its importance to the United States. It remains a major source of oil and gas in the world, affecting the stability of energy prices globally and thus the stability of the global economy. The United States is unlikely to allow rival international powers such as Russia and China to take its place in the Persian Gulf, but this region is no longer as important as it once was when Washington imported a large part of its oil. Finally, US allies in the Gulf region, especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, failed to bet on President Trump, believing that he would fundamentally change Obama's policies. All that has changed for them, as they rush to normalize with Israel to gain his satisfaction, is his constant demand for them to pay for protection, without a real translation on the ground. Finally, US allies in the Gulf region, especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, failed to bet on President Trump, believing that he would fundamentally change Obama's policies. All that has changed for them, as they rush to normalize with Israel to gain his satisfaction, is his constant demand for them to pay for protection, without a real translation on the ground. Finally, US allies in the Gulf region, especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, failed to bet on President Trump, believing that he would fundamentally change Obama's policies. All that has changed for them, as they rush to normalize with Israel to gain his satisfaction, is his constant demand for them to pay for protection, without a real translation on the ground.