24 June, 2019
After a somewhat quiet weekend the Trump administration today engaged in another push against Iran.
Today the Treasury Department sanctioned the leaders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). It also sanctioned Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and his office! There will be no more Disney Land visits for them.
There is more to come:
Josh Rogin - @joshrogin - 16:18 utc - 24 Jun 2019
Mnuchin: "The president has instructed me that we will be designating [Iran's foreign minister Javad] Zarif later this week." cc: @JZarif
The Treasury Secretary will designate Javad Zarif as what? A terrorist? Zarif is quite effective in communicating the Iranian standpoint on Twitter and other social media. Those accounts will now be shut down.
The Trump administration's special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, said today that Iran should respond to U.S. diplomacy with diplomacy. Sanctioning Iran's chief diplomat is probably not the way to get there.
All those who get sanctioned by the U.S. will gain in popularity in Iran. These U.S. measures will only unite the people of Iran and strengthen their resolve.
Iran will respond to this new onslaught by asymmetric means of which it has plenty.
On Saturday Trump said that all he wants is that Iran never gets nuclear weapons. But the State Department wants much more. Hook today said that the U.S. would only lift sanctions if a comprehensive deal is made that includes ballistic missile and human rights issues. Iran can not agree to that. But this is not the first time that Pompeo demanded more than Trump himself. Is it Pompeo, not Trump, who is pressing this expanded version to make any deal impossible?
Brian Hook is by the way a loon who does not even understand the meaning of what he himself says:
laurence norman @laurnorman - 10:53 utc - 24 Jun 2019
US Hook says Iran knew what getting into when struck deal with president who had 1 1/2 yr left in office. "They knew what they were getting into...They knew that there was a great possibility that the next president could come in & leave the deal." Note: US elections 17 months away
Those are two good arguments for Iran to never again agree to any deal with the 'non-agreement-capable' United States.
It seems obvious from the above that the Trump administration has no real interest in reasonable negotiations with Iran:
“The administration is not really interested in negotiations now,” said Robert Einhorn, a former senior State Department official who was involved in negotiations with Iranian officials during the Obama administration. “It wants to give sanctions more time to make the Iranians truly desperate, at which point it hopes the negotiations will be about the terms of surrender.”
That is part of the strategy. But the real issue is deeper:
Max Abrahms @MaxAbrahms - 16:41 utc - 24 Jun 2019
Pro tip: Sanctions against #Iran aren’t to retaliate for the downed drone or to punish tanker attacks or to improve the nuclear deal or to help the Iranian people but to foment revolution against the regime. The strategy is regime change with velvet gloves.
The U.S. now tries to build an international coalition against Iran. Trump invited China and Japan to protect their tankers in the Middle East:
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 0:08 utc - 24 Jun 2019
China gets 91% of its Oil from the Straight, Japan 62%, & many other countries likewise. So why are we protecting the shipping lanes for other countries (many years) for zero compensation. All of these countries should be protecting their own ships on what has always been....
....a dangerous journey. We don’t even need to be there in that the U.S. has just become (by far) the largest producer of Energy anywhere in the world! The U.S. request for Iran is very simple - No Nuclear Weapons and No Further Sponsoring of Terror!
One wonders what the U.S. Central Command and the U.S. Navy will say when that Chinese carrier group arrives in the Gulf region.
Who else will join this?
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday he wants to build a global coalition against Iran during urgent consultations in the Middle East, following a week of crisis that saw the United States pull back from the brink of a military strike on Iran.
Pompeo spoke as he left Washington for Saudi Arabia, followed by the United Arab Emirates, ..
"We’ll be talking with them about how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned, and how we can build out a global coalition, a coalition not only throughout the Gulf states, but in Asia and in Europe, that understands this challenge as it is prepared to push back against the world’s largest state sponsor of terror,” Pompeo said about Iran.
Pompeo was hastily sent to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Brian Hook is now in Oman and Bolton is in Israel. The U.S. will also pressure Europe and NATO to join a new 'coalition of the willing'. The UK will likely follow any U.S. call as it needs a trade deal to survive after Brexit.
Other countries are best advised to stay out.