July 14, 2015 seems so far away. On the evening of the signing of the nuclear deal between Iran and the major powers (the United States, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom and Germany), thousands of Iranians rushed into the street to celebrate the end of international sanctions and the reestablishment of Iran in the concert of nations, which sparked an unprecedented wave of hope after thirty-six years of isolation. But less than four years later, the US aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln is about to reach the waters of the Persian Gulf, accompanied by a B-52 bomber force. He will be joined by theUSS Arlington, a warship carrying amphibious vehicles, as well as a battery of Patriot missiles. For US National Security Advisor John Bolton, it is a "clear and unequivocal message to the Iranian regime: we will respond relentlessly to any attack on the interests of the United States or our allies" .
How did we get there ? It must be said that in the meantime, Donald Trump withdrew on May 8, 2018 from the Iranian nuclear deal, which significantly limited the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of sanctions, and that Tehran however complied according to the multiple reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Las, the American president, who is happy to unravel the entire legacy of his predecessor Democrat Barack Obama, would like to tear Iran a new global agreement: in addition to the nuclear issue, he would like to limit the ballistic program and stop the support of the Islamic Republic for groups and countries hostile to US interests in the Middle East (Shiite militias in Iraq, Houthi rebels in Yemen, Syrian regime, Lebanese Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad).
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Put Iran on its knees
To do this, the American billionaire intends to exercise "maximum pressure" on Tehran to put the Iranian regime on its knees. At the economic level, Donald Trump ordered two rounds of draconian sanctions, in August and November 2018, against the banking system and especially the sales of Iranian oil, which represent 40% of the budget of the Iranian state. On the political front, the White House resident has placed Iran's armed forces on the US terrorist list, despite the Pentagon's and the intelligence services' advice to the contrary. In retaliation, the Pasdaran in turn described the US forces in the region as "terrorists". Problem, Iranian Guardians and American soldiers often rub shoulders in Iraq, in Syria or in the waters of the Persian Gulf, where they maintained until now a precarious balance.
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"The Iranians have always done everything to avoid confrontation, but today, we have all these mutual terrorist forces next to each other in the region," said a keen oriental connoisseur of the issue. "Donald Trump did not realize the consequences of this decision or perhaps his advisers made this choice without realizing collateral effects. In a recent note, former French ambassador Michel Duclos believes that "in this context, any incident in the Strait of Hormuz or Iraq, or even in Syria, can degenerate into a major military confrontation between Iran and the United States (as well as their allies) ". And the former diplomat, today special geopolitical adviser of the Montaigne Institute, said: "The lack of a" deconfliction "channel between Washington and Tehran can only aggravate the risks of accidental conflict. "
Coincidence or not, on Monday, Saudi Arabia announced that "unclaimed" subversive acts had been conducted the day before against two Saudi oilers, a Norwegian ship and an Emirati cargo ship off the UAE's Fujairah emirate. On Tuesday, the al-Saud kingdom declared that it had ceased operations on a major oil pipeline in the Riyadh region after being targeted by "armed drone" attacks. They have been claimed by Yemeni Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, that Saudi Arabia openly accuses them of being behind the attack.
120,000 American soldiers
Announcing, on May 5, the deployment of the American armada in the Persian Gulf, John Bolton, well known for being a supporter of regime change in Iran, said it was a "response to worrying indications and warnings that led to escalation". On the order of the National Security Adviser, Pentagon Acting Chief Patrick Shanahan reportedly presented to several security officials in the country on May 7, including John Bolton and Gina Haspel, CIA Director, a plan to sending 120,000 troops to the Middle East if Iran retaliated against US forces in the region or resumed its nuclear program, according to New York Times. Still according to the New York daily, the alarming elements available to John Bolton emanate from a report of US intelligence he received on May 3, which would contradict the conclusions of the European and American services, which so far claimed not to see an aggravation of the Iranian threat in the region.
Including telephone intercepts and satellite imagery, the report indicates that Iran has ordered its militias to prepare to attack US forces in the region. According to the US news website Axiosit is the Israeli intelligence service that reportedly provided Washington with information about possible Iranian attacks on "an American target in the Gulf or US allies such as Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates". Yet in Washington, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez lamented Wednesday that "the Trump administration has not provided any information" to Congress "on the information that motivates its decisions, nor on what it intends to do."
Blur on American "information"
The vagueness that reigns over these American "information" is reinforced by the denial on Tuesday by the deputy commander of the international coalition against the Islamic State, led by the United States. "No, there has been no increase in the threat posed by pro-Iranian forces in Iraq or Syria," Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, who was speaking from Baghdad, told US journalists he is based. However, this high-ranking British was quickly contradicted by the US military command in the Middle East (Centcom). "Recent comments from the Deputy Commander of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) contradict the credible threats received from US and Allied intelligence regarding the pro-Iranian forces in the region," Major Bill Urban said in a statement. of Centcom. "As a result, IRO is now at a high alert level and we continue to closely monitor credible and possibly imminent threats against US forces in Iraq. "
The interrogations of journalists and experts in Washington are all the greater because John Bolton was one of the architects of the US intervention in Iraq in 2003, based on false allegations about the detention of weapons by Saddam Hussein. of mass destruction. This Iranian threat "is real," said a US State Department official, whose chief, Mike Pompeo, is also known for his dislike of the Iranian regime. Quoted by Agence France-Presse (AFP), this top diplomat spoke of the responsibility of "Iraqi militias under the command and control of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards", including Asaïb Ahl al-Haq Shiite groups and Iraqi Hezbollah brigades. . In addition, several US military officials, who had access to the famous report, told AFP that the intelligence found movements of weapons and pro-Iranian groups on land and at sea, as well as instructions from leaders to attack American interests such as embassies, consulates or soldiers.
"US officials claim that Iran has given permission to its regional allies to attack US interests without showing any evidence," the International Crisis Group think tank said in a recent analysis. "Whether Iran is directly or indirectly behind the recent attacks (…) and that Washington is making accusations to justify a peak of its military activities, all the ingredients for an escalation are present", alarmed the organization, which adds: "All this rise in tension was entirely predictable and most of it was caused by the United States. "
Trump: a war in spite of himself?
Extremely rare, because of the "increased threat flow", the State Department on Wednesday ordered non-essential US personnel from the US embassy in Baghdad and the US consulate in Erbil to leave Iraq. For now, Iran seems to want to calm the game. Accusing Thursday the United States to cause an "unacceptable" "escalation of tension" against Iran, the head of Iranian diplomacy Mohammad Javad Zarif said that his country acted "with maximum restraint". The day before, in retaliation for the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal a year earlier, Tehran has officially stopped limiting its reserves of heavy water and enriched uranium, two measures it had committed to respect under the agreement, but is entitled to terminate in the event of a breach by one of the parties. Dismissing any negotiations with the United States, the Islamic Republic gave the Europeans two months to find a solution to loosen the grip around its banking and oil sectors. If not, she said she would step up the resumption of her nuclear program.
"Iran does not want to fall into the trap of Donald Trump, to go out in turn of the nuclear deal. But it has been a year since Europe promised a compensation mechanism (Instex), without a single dollar has been exchanged, "said the source Eastern said. "Iran will not be the country that will start a war with the United States or any other country in the region. But this country can not go to the Americans either. "
Surprisingly, the increased risk of war between the United States and Iran contradicts Trump's campaign promise to stop intervening in foreign conflicts. Since coming to power, the US president has reduced American troops in Syria and Afghanistan. And if he warned Iran in case of attack on US interests, the billionaire repeated Thursday morning his wish to negotiate directly with Iranian leaders. "Everything in the policy of his administration vis-à-vis Iran points to a surprisingly different direction: war, by will or by mistake," warns the International Crisis Group nonetheless. "A crisis that he may not want, but that would not bother some of his advisers and that would be about to burst. Asked Thursday night on the forecourt of the White House on the possibility of a war against Iran, the US president simply replied with a terse: "I do not hope. "