US Pressure Emboldens Iran: Experts

Washington's political and economic pressures on Tehran have backfired, emboldening the Iranian regime on some issues, according to western and Iranian analysts.

US Pressure Emboldens Iran: Experts

Washington's political and economic pressures on Tehran have backfired, emboldening the Iranian regime on such issues as the detention of 15 UK navy personnel, curtailing cooperation with the UN nuclear body and holding highly-sophisticated war games in a show of force, western and Iranian analysts agreed.

"Iranians are on the offensive because they're in a defensive posture," Patrick Cronin, a former State Department and Pentagon official who is now director of research at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday, April 3.

"There's a domestic audience and a fight over who is the rightful voice of Iran. If they don't have outside threats, they're going to lose power. If we slap on sanctions, they can blame the West."

The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a British-drafted resolution broadening sanctions on Iran for defying repeated demands to suspend uranium enrichment.

Main provisions of the resolution go beyond the nuclear sphere by banning Iran's exports of conventional arms and freezing financial assets abroad of 28 Iranian individuals and entities, including its Bank Sepah, and the commanders of the elite Revolutionary Guards.

Iran has repeatedly refused to suspend its uranium enrichment work and rejected accusations that it is trying to produce nuclear weapons, insisting its program is designed solely to generate electricity.

Hamidreza Taraghi, head of the international affairs office of the Islamic Coalition Party, an Iranian conservative parliamentary group, said pressures promoted Iran to adopt a more hard-line approach.

"Instead of opening its nuclear technology facilities to inspectors the government is more cautious than ever about revealing details of its program to inspectors so that the information cannot be used against [us] in any likely war," he told the daily.

"We should not volunteer information regarding our nuclear sites, as they may be misused by Americans."

Flexing Muscles

Analysts say recent war-mongering by the Bush administration and new military build-up in the Gulf have promoted Tehran to flex its own military muscles through highly-sophisticated war games in the Gulf waters and testing ballistic missiles.

"Because the neoconservatives in the American administration are prone to this sort of stupidity and craziness, we have been fully prepared in terms of hardware and military arsenals but also software and information for electronic warfare," said Taraghi.

Washington has been upping the ante against Tehran recently, restoring to the same aggressive rhetoric that preceded its invasion of Iraq.

For the first time since 2003, a second US aircraft carrier, the John C. Stennis, arrived in the Gulf for previously-scheduled naval war games.

The Pentagon said the exercise is aimed at reassuring friends and allies.

Exercises involving two carrier strike groups are unusual because two such naval formations are rarely in the same area at the same time.

Award-winning American investigative reporter Seymour Hersh has revealed that the Pentagon recently formed a special group to plan an attack against Iran that can be implemented, upon orders from the president, within 24 hours.

He believes the Bush administration is intent on striking Iran and would do that with or without the UN authorization as was the case with Iraq in 2003.

Emboldened

Cronin, a US Navy intelligence officer in the Gulf during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, described the capture of the Britons a "horizontal escalation" meant both to shift the domestic discussion and to gain leverage against the West.

"They have to go on the offensive to change the narrative," he said.

On Sunday, April 1, more than 150 students pelted the British Embassy in Tehran with firecrackers and a smoke grenade, demanding an apology and the closure of the mission over the sailors crisis.

Iran insists that the Britons entered its waters illegally while London maintains they were "ambushed" while in Iraqi waters on routine anti-smuggling operations.

The Independent reported on Tuesday that the capture of the British sailor was in revenge of a foiled US operation in January to abduct the powerful deputy head of the Iranian National Security Council and the chief of intelligence in the elite Revolutionary Guard during a visit to northern Iraq.

The raid on the Iranian liaison office in Arbil, where the Americans believed the two senior Iranian officials were, led to the arrest of five junior Iranian diplomats.

The British daily said Iran went for the British sailors because they were a more vulnerable target than their American comrades.

Ahmad Bakhshayesh, a professor of political science at Tehran's Allameh Tabatabai University, suggested Iranians thought the British naval personnel were assigned to test Iranian military readiness.

"One scenario is that their intrusion was a prelude for a large-scale assault," he said.

Christopher Rundle, a former British diplomat to Iran and honorary president of the Institute of Iranian Studies at Durham University in Britain, said Tehran has every right to be suspicious.

"Iran is full of conspiracy theories, and some of them may be right," he said.

"The Americans might be supporting (ethnic opposition) Baluchi and Arab separatists. There is a concerted effort to destabilize Iran."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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