Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Ellen Mitchell / The Hill – 2018-05-22 00:40:04
Pentagon Threatens More Aggressive Stance Toward Iran
Presents anti-Iran policy as a ‘whole government’ effort
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(May 21, 2018) — Following up on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s bellicose threats toward Iran, Pentagon officials suggested that moving against Iran would require a “whole government solution.” They pointed toward the Pentagon being more aggressive toward Iran in the future.
While officials were not specific about what the Pentagon would or even might do, they condemned Iran’s “malign influence” in the region. Some talked up freedom of navigation operations, which has long been a favored way for the US Navy to pick fights or escalate tensions with rivals.
Purely theoretically, the freedom of navigation exercise is just meant to prove that ships can safely transit certain waters. Though Iran has never impeded anyone’s ships passing around their sphere of influence, the US Navy has favored parking ships along Iran’s maritime borders, and occasionally hugging that border.
Even before the US started this post-nuclear deal desire to pick a fight with Iran, such exercises were common. Often, this boiled down to US warships hugging the Iranian coast until Iranian patrol boats made visual contact. Following that, US officials would condemn Iran as “provocative” for having those boats patrolling their own territorial waters, or “reckless” for getting even a little close to US warships.
Beyond maritime incidents, the comments from the State Department suggest the general preference of the administration is to provoke something inside Syria. A substantial number of US troops are stationed in Syria, and while very few Iranians are there, the US and Israel have often spun every Shi’ite militia as effectively “under Iranian control.”
Pentagon Hints at More Aggressive Posture Toward Iran
Ellen Mitchell / The Hill
WASHINGTON (May 18, 2018) — The Pentagon on Monday hinted at a more aggressive approach toward Iran following Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s threats to “crush” the nation with economic sanctions.
“We are going to take steps necessary to address Iran’s malign influence in the region,” Defense Department spokesman Rob Manning told reporters at the Pentagon.
“They are a destabilizing force in the region . . . and we’re going to do everything we can to avert that,” Manning added. “This is a whole of government solution that we’re working in order to change Iran’s influence in the region and we’re continuing to do that.”
Pompeo earlier on Monday vowed to impose an “unprecedented” level of economic sanctions as well as military pressure unless Tehran alters its behavior in the Middle East.
The speech came roughly two weeks after President Trump announced he was withdrawing the US from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions that were lifted as part of the accord.
Pompeo, while unveiling the Trump administration’s new policy on Iran, said he will work with the Pentagon and allies in pressuring Iran to curb its nuclear and military ambitions.
“We will ensure freedom of navigation on the waters in the region. We will work to prevent and counteract any Iranian malign cyber activity. We will track down Iranian operatives and their Hezbollah proxies operating around the world and crush them,” Pompeo said at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.
“Iran will never again have carte blanche to dominate the Middle East.”
Manning would not say what the Pentagon will do to address Iran, but he said officials “are actively looking at their influence in the region” and assessing what actions will be taken.
“We’re assessing if we’re going to double down on current actions or implement new actions. It’s on the table, we’re not going to rule out anything necessary in order to address Iran,” Manning said.
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