We must not forget that Saddam Hussein, the late defeated Iraqi president, never believed the seriousness of the threats that warned him that America intended to wage a devastating war unless he withdrew from Kuwait during the first Gulf War.
The last attempt to deliver the message to him was made in Switzerland, where the Iraqi and US foreign ministers, Tariq Aziz and James Baker, met just days before the start of the air campaign, after five months of repeated warnings.
We are now facing a similar scenario, with several warnings to Iran that, if war erupts, it will be a devastating one. The American side reiterates that it does not want to go to war but, in reality, it is pushing Tehran’s regime toward it. The US economic sanctions are exhausting the regime, and it may fall without a single bullet being fired.
The Tehran regime also does not want war because it knows it will be destroyed, but it is playing a blackmailing game in threatening to break the siege by force; and it may dare to resort to limited strikes against Gulf or Saudi oil interests. Thus, perhaps the Iranian regime imagines that, if it launches a limited propaganda engagement, as Hezbollah did with Israel, it would justify reaching an agreement. The danger of this thinking, i.e., standing on the brink, is that it may actually lead to an all-out war and a fall into the abyss.
What makes us believe in the likelihood of war is the growing number of American warships that have reached the Gulf’s waters and the surrounding area. These are not toys and are not sent unless they are ready to fight as soon as orders arrive, and they represent the most serious message Washington can send.
Here, in our region we must remember that the US is a tremendous military power, just like an elephant, trampling on grass and not looking beneath it. In all the areas of conflict it has gone into, it has suffered curable scratches, while the Iranian regime may face what Saddam faced in the two wars the US led against his regime — destruction and possibly total collapse. Another example is Afghanistan’s Taliban, which was destroyed as an authority and removed from Kabul after the Sept. 11 attacks. Even when America was defeated in Vietnam, it suffered psychologically and consequently became keen to reduce its human losses.
There is a question that is often asked: Since Washington possesses lethal capabilities, why hasn’t it used them on the dozens of occasions when Iran targeted the interests of America and its allies? This question is repeatedly raised by the confused, the “conspiracy theorists,” and those who seek to cast doubts by alluding to a secret relationship between the two regimes.
Indeed, there are two reasons for this.
The first is that the Iranian regime is cautious and insidious. It has never entertained the idea of direct aggression against the US, either in the region or abroad. Instead it has always used proxies to carry out its missions. Thus, the Iranians have avoided pushing any US president to wage war against them with the support of Congress, which is a constitutional requirement. All the attacks carried out by Iran were done with great caution, as if legal experts had planned them. At the same time, Washington, like Iran, is also fighting an undeclared war. It has waged secret military operations against Iran and its interests through its intelligence and allies, and imposed a very damaging economic boycott.
The second reason is that the US still hopes that Iran will change politically and become an ally; thus, it wants to avoid pushing Tehran into the arms of its major adversaries, Russia and China. One of these two powers may, in fact, intervene and give Iran protection to keep the regime on the conflict chessboard. This is just as Russia did when it intervened and saved the Assad regime in Syria from inevitable collapse, and is now doing with the Maduro regime in Venezuela.
However, the regime in Iran suffers from an extreme revolutionary religious ideology, which has been the reason why all Washington’s methods of persuasion and intimidation have failed to reform it.
Still, its fate this time round seems to have been decided, more so since similar evil regimes have been eliminated, such as Saddam in Iraq, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and Omar Al-Bashir in Sudan, while Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria has been effectively weakened.
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