The United States and Israel, together with the Arab "flagship" in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, are gradually deploying a frontal attack on Iran. While the advent of the conditional "Middle East triumvirate" on the anti-Iran platform is limited to active diplomatic steps. The transition to a "hot" phase of confrontation in the coming months is not expected. Although the military component of confrontation is likely to manifest itself this year already, because diplomatic attacks on Iran are close to accumulating their critical mass.
It looks at the prospect of directly military means of deterring the "Iranian aggressor." For example, in the form of coordinated attacks against regional allies and partners of Tehran in Lebanon (the Shiite movement Hezbollah), Yemen (Shiite movement Ansar Allah, Husits), Palestine (Hamas and Islamic Jihad). In Iraq and Syria, Iranian proxies are also under constant threat of direct strikes. However, in the case of the Iraqi Shiite militia, the Forces of People's Mobilization (Khashd al-Sha'abi), everything is not so simple, given the important role for the government in Baghdad of this militarized structure in the power bloc of the Arab Republic, its contribution to the fight against terrorists. "Islamic state", IG, IGIL) and Kurdish separatism in the north of the country.
In the Iranian policy of the current US administration, at this and the next stages, much will be subordinated to two main tasks.
The first is to prevent Tehran from laying the so-called "Shiite corridor" from the western borders of the Islamic Republic to the Lebanese coast of the Mediterranean. The US military presence in Iraq and Syria is extended for an uncertain future. The points of basing are chosen by the Pentagon taking into account the solution of this problem. On Syrian territory, in addition to the already deployed air bases and strong points of the US Marine Corps "Rumeilan", "Kobani" (both located in areas controlled by the Kurdish militia of Syria in the north of the Arab Republic), the military facilities Tabka (Rakka Province) and " At-Tanf "(south-east of the RAA, Homs province). The US, together with the Arab-Kurdish alliance "Syrian Democratic Forces" that they maintain, which has its ongoing history of complex relations with the government in Damascus, cuts the "Shiite corridor" along the Iraqi-Syrian border. There are pro-Iranian factions on both sides, but the establishment of a land link between them and a continuous line of presence from Iran to Lebanon is constrained by the expanding military base of the United States in the region.
The second task of the US in the Middle East theater to counter Iran's "expansion" is to cut it (primarily financially) from its proxies and the non-state forces sympathetic to the IRI in the region. Despite domestic economic problems, Tehran deployed not only a constantly progressing missile program, but also an impressive campaign of financial support for its regional partners. Most of all, "falls" to the key ally of Iranians - the Lebanese Hezbollah. The leading Shiite fighting unit west of the Iranian borders, according to Western intelligence, in 2017, Tehran quadrupled the amount of annual financial assistance - up to $ 830 million. An order of magnitude smaller amounts, calculated in tens, rather than hundreds of millions of dollars, go to support the Palestinian hearth resistance to the "Zionist regime" (thus, the official Iranian people call Israel), the Yemeni front of the struggle against Saudi Arabia and the Arab coalition that it has put together. Palestinian Hamas groups, Islamic Jihad, irrespective of their Sunni nature, the Iranians either already allocate an annual "anti-Israeli subsidy" within $ 50 million, or have made a firm pledge to provide a comparable amount of funding.
Such challenges on the part of Iran are extremely worried about Israel. The latter carefully blocks arms supplies to Lebanese Shiites and groups in Palestinian Gaza, and also tries to isolate them from financial flows from outside. Hence, it is not surprising when, at the insistence of the Israeli ally, the Washington emissaries campaign in Lebanon for cutting Hezbollah from the financial sector of this Arab country (1).
The United States presented Iran with an account for the "destabilization" of the Middle East. In fact, the same complaints of the US administration about the nuclear deal with Tehran (the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan, the SVPD - agreement on Tehran's nuclear program concluded in July of the year 2015 between the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany and Iran) for today, but only a pretext for presenting the IRI of this account.
The implementation of the SVAP in its present form is objectively interested in the American side itself. It is no accident that against the backdrop of the president's highly negative energy Donald Trump to this international multilateral agreement, even the leadership of the Pentagon and the CIA advises its "boss" to refrain from taking drastic steps. The latest Trump decision on the SVAP, voiced in mid-January, was taken in the light of the opinion of the US military and intelligence establishment, which is increasingly inclined to the fact that the collapse of the SVPD promises to the Americans in the Middle East an order of magnitude more problems than some geopolitical benefits. However, the expressive president-republican is not always and not always ready to obey the opinion of the "system". Moreover, when the factor of the closest relations between the administration of the White House and its owner personally with the leadership of Israel prevails over him in recent decades.
Recall that earlier Trump not only "wrote a check" to Iran, threatening him with the worst consequences if he does not give up the "destabilizing policy" in the Middle East region, but also moved the arrows on the issue of the SVPD to the European participants in this agreement. 12 January, he agreed to extend the suspension of the US sanctions against Iran, introduced earlier in connection with its nuclear program and "frozen" after the entry of the SVPD into force. But the US president gave the allies in Europe, the participants in the nuclear agreement, only four months to make changes to it, otherwise the Americans would withdraw from the deal.
Trump extended for 120 days the operation of suspending the sanctions against Iran in accordance with the terms of the UHAP. Such a decision was made by the US President after consultations with members of his team, including with the Minister of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, director of the CIA Mike Pompeo, national security adviser Herbert MacMaster. As sources at the US administration indicated at the time, Trump took the decision to suspend the sanctions for the last time, expecting to tighten the terms of the nuclear deal.
The next day, 13 January, the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a decree according to which the SVAP is not subject to change and official Tehran resolutely refuses to negotiate a revision of this international document. In the foreign policy department, the IRI was also warned that they would not go on linking the provisions of the SVAP with "any other issue". Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Trump's actions are "a desperate attempt" to undermine the nuclear agreement, stressing that it is not subject to revision.
Russia, as one of the parties to the nuclear deal, has diagnosed its attempts to torpedo an international agreement that has been successfully implemented (according to numerous estimates of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA). In Moscow, an ultimatum was expressed by President Trump's position regarding the SVAP, which "completely contradicts not only the principles on which international relations are built but also the logic that is embedded in the nuclear agreement" (statement by the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergei Ryabkov from 13 January).
However, Washington does not think to back up. His ultimatum tone in the next four months will be especially tangible in contacts with the three European capitals. Until 12 May, Tramp's declared deadline for completing the 120-day work on "improving" the SVPD, Berlin, London and Paris will be complex consultations and mutually agreed concurrently with the US and Iran. Moreover, taking into account the categorical refusal of Tehran to discuss any change in the document from 2015, such cross-agreement appears to be doomed from the very beginning.
However, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson 22 January said about the progress in getting Washington support from its European allies to "improve" the terms of the nuclear deal with Iran. According to the head of the State Department, this progress ultimately can keep the United States from withdrawing from the SVPD. Before the expression of optimism Tillerson held in London meeting with the Prime Minister Theresa May, Minister of Foreign Affairs Boris Johnson and adviser to the head of the British government on national security Mark Sedwill. Following the talks, it was announced the creation of a working group of experts from the United States, Britain, France and Germany, which will "fix the shortcomings" of the nuclear deal with Iran.
"I think there is a common view among the E3 group (Britain, France and Germany) that there are some provisions (nuclear deal) or some questions of Iran's behavior that must be answered," Tillerson said after the meeting with the British foreign policy leadership.
Until now, there is no clarity about the essence of the changes in the SVAP, requested by the American side. The first time that Trump refused to "certify" a nuclear deal, 13 October last year announcing that he was sending her to Congress to receive concrete proposals from him on the issue of "improvement," the dedicated sources pointed to one of the demands of the White House. It was concerned with the extension of a number of restrictions on Iran's nuclear program for the period after 2025, which is contained in the agreement (according to the text of the UWPD: "For 10 years Iranian R & D in enrichment using uranium will include only IR-4, IR-5 type centrifuges , IR-6 and IR-8 ... and Iran will not engage in the development of other isotope separation technologies for uranium enrichment).
Closer to Trump's second (January) signal that he is ready to "kill" the nuclear deal, if it is not revised, new data on the substance of American inquiries have appeared. This, in particular, is the condition for admission of international inspectors to everything, not just nuclear facilities, of Iran, which can cause suspicion of storing components for weapons of mass destruction there. That is, Tehran is invited to open the door for external control at all its military bases. A similar condition for the Iranians is not only unacceptable. It is seen by them as a direct insult, grossly encroaching on their national sovereignty.
Another alleged request from Washington is connected with the introduction in the text of the SVAP of a provision legally binding on Iran not to develop ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. So far, Tehran is not limited by international legal norms on this issue. There is a resolution of the UN Security Council 2231 from 20 July 2015, but it does not oblige, but only calls on Iran to refrain from such actions within its missile program (2).
It should be noted that Iran's commitment not to engage in military development in the implementation of its own nuclear program, according to the CAP, is of an indefinite nature: "Iran will not engage in activities, including at the R & D level, that could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device, including uranium metallurgy or plutonium. "
The linkage of Iran's nuclear and missile programs in one international treaty, under which the signature of the Iranian leadership would stand, is the cherished goal of the United States and Israel. However, they realize that Tehran can agree to this only in one case: if it loses a big regional war with the "Middle Eastern triumvirate".
Direct military conflict with a powerful opponent is not included in the short-term plans of the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Like the Americans, in the coming months the Israelis will "punch" Europeans into anti-Iranian steps, involving in the process of "improving" the SVAP, which will irritate Iran more and more every day. Prime Minister of Israel Binyamin Netanyahu earlier warned in Davos, Switzerland, on the margins of the World Economic Forum-2018, the President of France Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that they have only a few weeks left for a "significant change" in the provisions of the UWP. "In the coming weeks they still have the opportunity to try to make genuine, not cosmetic, amendments to a dangerous nuclear deal with Iran," the Israeli leader said.
In the current situation, Iran has no choice but to seek support from Russia and China - the other two permanent members of the UN Security Council and the parties to the nuclear deal. They also know about this in Washington. Therefore, it is quite expected that the United States will increase the sanctions pressure on two natural partners of Iran until 12 May, when the Americans promised to definitively determine the nuclear deal.
Moscow is ready for such a scenario, since 2014, it has already developed a certain immunity for restrictive measures by any Washington administrations. As you can understand, Beijing, moreover, there is no reason for serious concern, because the first and second economies of the world are doomed to find a common language in the most difficult foreign policy situations. A conclusion is drawn. Iran has all chances to stand up against the "Middle East triumvirate", to withdraw from it without significant damage to its positions in the region and internal shocks only in the commonwealth with Russia and China. In the case of such support to the Iranians from the two world powers, the Europeans will also be determined not to go on about Trump, the "killer" of the nuclear deal, and uphold his point of view about the need for its implementation in its present form.
(1) The government of Lebanon should cut Hezbollah from the financial sector of the country. With such a call to the Lebanese government, during his recent two-day visit to the Arab Republic, US Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingsley addressed. He also pointed out to local authorities the importance of neutralizing "Iranian hostile activity" in Lebanon. Recall, "Hezbollah" from 1997 year is listed in the terrorist organizations, compiled by the US State Department. Earlier, the US Congress appealed to the European Union with an appeal to recognize the political association of Lebanese Shiites as a "terrorist organization".
(2) According to the text of the UNSC resolution 2231: "Iran is called upon not to carry out any activities related to the development and creation of ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology."