Iran under pressure | Editorial

Donald Trump has set May 12 as the do-or-dare deadline for American support for the Iran nuclear deal. Yet the US is leaving nothing to chance. It is gunning for Iran. By fair means or foul.
Mike Pompeo, the new secretary of State, undertook a whirlwind tour of the Middle East that saw him make pit stops in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel; all the while pushing for sanctions. The message was clear: Iran is a threat to Washington and the region. The charge sheet against it includes: supporting proxy militias and terrorist groups; playing arms dealer to the Houthi rebels in Yemen; running cyber hacking offensives; not to mention backing the murderous Assad regime. And then there is Tehran’s audacity in terms of regional ambition.
Yet Iranian pundits are having none of this. They point to the fact that allies like Lebanon’s Hezbollah hold seats in Parliament and are cabinet members; while underscoring that before Saudi aggression in Yemen, Sana and Tehran had hardly any formal relationship to speak of. Though mindful that this may be seen as an unwitting admission of weaponry support — they are quick to stress how incomparable this is to the billions of dollars of arms that Washington continues to sell to Riyadh. All of which renders the US complicit in bombing one of the world’s poorest nations; which is suffering the most catastrophic humanitarian disaster in the last 50 years.
That being said, it looks as if the American endgame is to economically cripple the Iranian regime. This is more necessary than ever from the Trump Town perspective. Especially after Pompeo’s inadvertent blunder at his confirmation hearing last month when he threw this curveball: “Iran wasn’t racing to a weapon before the [nuclear] deal, there is no indication that I am aware of that if the deal no longer existed that they would immediately turn to racing to create a nuclear weapon.” And just like that, the former CIA chief managed to de-legitimise 15 years of American anti-Iranian propaganda.
Except that the US, and parts of the Arab-Muslim world, will seemingly not be satisfied until regime change occurs. By this, they do not envisage a simple overthrowing of the Rouhani government. What Washington and its allies want is nothing short of a reversal of the ideology that swept the Centre on the back of the Iranian revolution. For Tehran today still stands accused of wanting to spread this throughout the region and beyond. No matter that Saudi Arabia is a known exporter of extremism.
And now Trump Town may just have a little help towards this end. After all, an American judge has ruled that Iran must pay more than $6 billion in compensation to the victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks. The court contends that Tehran supported and trained the hijackers; despite the 9/11 Commission never having established direct linkages. While it remains unclear what sort of jurisdiction a local court ultimately wields in a case of international terrorism — this is nonetheless a superb masterstroke on the propaganda front.
Thus Iran had better brace itself. For the hawks will not rest until there is nothing but bones to pick at.

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