Tensions rising in the Middle East

New conflict between Iran and the United States are causing air of unease

With tensions between the United States and Iran on the rise, it is important to know exactly what is occurring and where this issue appears to be heading. 

A lot has happened since the Jan. 8 Iranian missile attack on the U.S. air force located in Baghdad, Iraq. This attack was retaliation on the U.S. for the assassination of top Iranian general Qassim Soleimani.

Previously, President Donald Trump had stated that no troops were hurt during the attack, but the pentagon has now informed the public that 34 troops have brain injuries. 

Of the 34 service members, 17 were flown to a medical center in Germany, nine remained in the military hospital in Iraq and the rest were flown back to the United States.

Currently, additional U.S. troops are being pulled out from Iraq.

 Members of the Trump administration are attempting to keep pressure in Iran without causing any further confrontation between the two nations.

 U.S. officials differ in the manner in which they want to deal with Iran. Some want to solve current conflicts diplomatically, and others believe military action would be more effective; however, U.S. officials are confident that Iran and its Middle East allies are looking to avoid further conflicts with America.

Currently, Key members of Trump’s national security team are certain that Tehran has lost some of its domestic grip after the Iranian military mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian Airliner, killing 176 people. 

The Iranian government claimed that they did not know what caused the crash of the airline, but they now say their military shut it down by accident. This catastrophe triggered protests across the country. 

 In order to prevent further predicaments, some U.S. officials believe that a regime change in Iran could lead to a collapse of the Iranian government and pave the way for a more balanced government; nonetheless, they are not necessarily looking to take Ali Khamenei out of power.  Their main concern is applying a dramatic shift in the manner Tehran approaches military and foreign affairs. 

The most popular idea seems to be the imposition of further economic sanctions in order to weaken the Iranian economy. This would re-impose United Nations sanctions on Iran for violating the nuclear-containment agreement; however, Iran has recently claimed to have more enriched uranium than the 2015 nuclear deal agreed upon between Tehran and the world powers.

Brain Hook, who is part of the Trump administration and oversees policy towards Iran in the State Department, believes that “a combination of maximum economic pressure and restoring deterrence by credible threat of military force, if attacked, is going to do more to advance peace and stability in the region than a policy of accommodation with the regime.”

Other U.S. officials think that direct conversations between Washington and Tehran would have a better effect in resolving the issues between the two nations. Trump has shown interest in partaking in these conversations, but Iran is not willing to cooperate until the U.S. eases some sanctions. 

Sheikh Tamim Hamad al Thani, the emir of Qatar, has offered to work with Washington and Tehran in order to avert a dangerous conflict between the two nations. Trump has spoken with him twice this month, U.S. officials have said.

In order to get a local opinion on this issue, Dr. Youssef Chouhoud, a politics professor who specializes in U.S. and Middle Eastern relations here at CNU, was asked to share some of his views on the topic. 

When asked about what his view on the American attempt to deal with Iran either diplomatically or by the increase of sanctions backed with military force, he thinks neither would be effective at easing political tensions between Iran and America. Instead, the U.S., Iran and other world powers should come back to the drawing board and make a new agreement, one that would replace the Iran Nuclear Deal. 

He believes this because the current deal has been losing its influence over Iran, especially since the U.S. decided to withdraw from it. He said that if America wants to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, the U.S. can’t depend on European policy alone to enforce sanctions. The U.S. must be part of the deal. 

He was also asked about what his thoughts were on a potential Iranian revolution since the Iranian people are losing faith in their government and have begun to criticize the incompetence and corruption their leaders demonstrate. To this, he responded that American involvement will not catalyze a revolution. In fact, it will have the complete opposite effect. It is important to note that he thinks a revolution is very unlikely.

If the Iranian government were to collapse, it would occur as a result of the Iranian people wanting a regime change; however, nationalism works against this desire for change, especially among conservative Iranians. Of course, such political speculations are no more than just ideas. One can never tell what the future holds, especially in a topic as complicated as Iran-U.S. relations.

In addition, Iran is holding its parliamentary election on Feb. 21st, which will replace all current members of the Iranian parliament. The Guardian Council, which is responsible for approving and rejecting candidates, has already disqualified a great number of reformists and moderates from running in the election.

Iran is trying to maintain it’s conservative government, and it is believed that if the government strengthens its right-wing ideologies, it is very likely that Iran will withdraw from the Nuclear Deal Agreement and increase its nuclear enrichment.

Regardless of how politicians and diplomats try to solve this issue, it is of the utmost importance to release the tension between the United States and Iran in order to prevent any further conflicts that could result in the loss of lives.

~Cesar Gonzales-Engelhard, Staff Writer~

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