Piling pressure on Iran doesn’t benefit US in anyway

S hu Meng The targeted elimination by the US of a senior Iranian military figure has stirred a hornet’s nest in the Middle East, sparking a groundswell of anti-US sentiment in the region already reeling under geopolitical tensions. Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a commander of Iraq’s Shia Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization Units, and two other militia leaders loyal to Tehran, were killed in an airstrike in Baghdad on January 3. The killing of Soleimani has escalated tensions between the US and Iran. “World War III” has become a top-trending search term as the contradiction between a global superpower and a regional power intensifies. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on January 3 that Iranians’ resistance “will continue with a doubled motivation.” There is, of course, little chance that the assassination will directly lead to a full-scale war. The confrontation between the US and Iran has become normal under the US policy of “maximum pressure” on Tehran since Donald Trump became US president. After withdrawing from Iran nuclear deal in 2018, Washington has stepped up sanctions against Tehran, upgrading from conventional to economic measures and including individuals and entities. The US intends to bring down the Iranian government by striking at its fiscal revenue, economy and the livelihood. However, the sanctions did not receive expected results. Although sanctions have affected its economy, Teheran still holds a hard-line position. Pressures piled by the US have reinforced cohesion among Iranians. US maximum pressure policy toward Iran has met considerable opposition among US allies, who want to deal with the issue under the framework of the Iranian nuclear deal. The disadvantages of US maximum pressure policy have far outweighed the gains so far. In addition, a large-scale war is not an optimal option for both Washington and Tehran. Waging a war is costly for the US. Iran, which holds the biggest and most advanced missile arsenal in the Middle East and the largest standing army in the region, is capable of being a great military power. Although US military clout far exceeds that of Iran, in the era of advanced military technology, the US is reluctant to launch another war. Furthermore, US presidential election is to be held later in 2020. Trump prefers to use military measures to divert domestic political attention and buttress his political position, but he is not willing to risk US public concern on national security by waging a war against Iran. Therefore, the US will continue to use the policy of maximum pressure, but will not easily cross the line. In addition, once a war breaks out between Washington and Tehran, oil price will rise sharply and the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy will be affected. At that time, both the US and Iran will suffer. Iran has been showing a tough attitude toward the US, threatening to revenge Soleimani’s killing, but Iran’s official statement has left some leeway, noting Iran has never and will never seek war, yet the US “should accept appropriate reactions to their actions.”Under US sanctions, Iran’s economic development has been severely affected with increasing social instability. At this point, an all-out war with the US will only exacerbate Iran’s plight. However, it is worth noting that under maximum pressure by the US, struggling bilateral ties have reached a critical point. Iran’s announcement that it will no longer observe limitations on its capacity for enrichment means the country will no longer be bound by any restrictions imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal. The possibility of resuming negotiations between the two sides has therefore been further reduced. Security and stability in the entire Gulf region is in a precarious state.Soleimani’s death will once again drag the US and Iran into a vicious cycle of revenge. The situation in the Middle East is sensitive, fragile, complicated and constantly changing. A slight move in one part may affect the entire region. Against this backdrop, even if all parties are reluctant to start a war, tensions and turbulence in the region are at a risk of snowballing any time. -The Daily Mail-Global Times News Exchange Item