Bombers and a carrier strike force are sent to the Middle East after provocations from Iran, and the U.S. body responsible for declaring wars, Congress, has no idea what is going on. Lawmakers are expecting the Pentagon and the State Department to brief them on the situation in Iran sometime this week, but for now, Congress is left in the dark.
A rocket was fired into the Iraqi capital Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses government buildings and diplomatic missions, on Sunday night, falling near the U.S. Embassy but causing no casualties. “We will hold Iran responsible if any such attacks are conducted by its proxy militia forces or elements of such forces, and will respond to Iran accordingly,” a State Department official said.
Following the attacks on Saudi oil tankers last week, Saudi Arabia emphasizes that while it does not want war with Iran, it stands ready to respond with “all strength” should a war with Iran be necessary. Iran is accused of attacking two Saudi oil tankers.
As tensions continue to rise between Tehran and Washington, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is taking a less confrontational approach. He said, “There will be no war because neither do we want a war, nor has anyone the idea or illusion it can confront Iran in the region.”
The case for the Iraq War was built on intelligence that suggested Iraq had WMDs, which were famously never found. Iran now appears to be using the “faulty intelligence” argument, still a sensitive topic for many Americans, to sow distrust of the current intelligence, which the U.S. claims shows Iranian ships armed with missiles. Iran’s ambassador to the UN has also sought to drive a wedge between National Security Adviser John Bolton and the president.
While the U.S. sends a carrier fleet and bomber strike force to the Middle East to defend its interests against Iran, Iran remains defiant and says that its missiles can easily hit U.S. warships. Iran also says that the U.S. cannot afford a war with Iran and says the U.S. as a country is in a “bad situation”.
Donald Trump has said he does not want a war with Iran amid rising tensions between the two countries, according to senior officials. The U.S. has deployed warships and planes to the Gulf and withdrawn diplomatic staff from Iraq in recent days, citing threats from Iran for the moves.
“The U.S.-Iran faceoff is one of those odd situations where both players appear eager to set off sparks, although neither seems to want a raging fire. They seem comfortable in a halfway zone of conflict, where nations use force in deniable ways across different domains, hoping they don’t set off an explosion. The problem is that nobody in Washington, Europe or the Middle East has a convincing answer to the obvious question: What’s next? Each side says it fears an attack by the other, but hard-liners in both capitals seem eerily ready for an exchange of blows.”
The U.S. has multiple images of Iranian commercial vessels in the Persian Gulf that it believes are carrying missiles and other munitions, according to a U.S. official. The freighters have been modified, the official said, with large areas of their decks removed. The official did not explain why these vessels would need to be altered to carry missiles, but surveillance has shown the freighters moving in and out of Iranian ports in recent days.
“Tehran’s leadership should bear in mind that for Trump, a deal seems to be ‘horrible’ unless it is proposed by his administration. Only then can it be deemed ‘fair’ if not ‘great.’ By making his willingness for a phone call clear, President Trump is laying the groundwork for an attempt, through his bipolar style of negotiations, at an agreement bearing his signature, instead of those of the previous U.S. administration and the other world powers. As Trump stated when he exited the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, better known as the Iran deal, in May 2018, he seeks ‘to negotiate a new deal.'”
No one seems to know. Republican lawmakers have complained that they’re “left in the dark.” There are rumors that the president feels he’s being coerced into a war he doesn’t want by National Security Adviser John Bolton. And to top it all off, our European allies are disputing the justification for a possible military operation, saying there has been no increased threat from Iran-backed forces in Iraq and Syria.
Donald Trump, with his isolationist tendencies, does not want a war with Iran and appears to be upset with his hawkish advisers and aides, whom he sees moving him closer to war. He intends to speak with the Iranians, believing war would be very costly to him politically.
The spy images are said to have revealed fully assembled missiles, which raised concerns that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps was preparing to attack American naval vessels in the region. The escalation in tensions between Iran and the U.S. came after American intelligence snapped photos of small boats equipped with Iranian missiles in the Persian Gulf.
“It is not too late to stop this mistake. Military brinkmanship, designed to provoke or cause an aggressive reaction, can be stopped. We ask that the administration brief Congress on the situation in an open and transparent way and acknowledge that the Constitution grants war-making authority solely to Congress, not the Oval Office. Critically, President Trump must understand that the authorization for the use of military force that Congress passed in 2001 against al-Qaeda does not authorize hostilities against Iran, no matter how much Pompeo would like to link Iran and al-Qaeda.”
The threat level update is in stark contrast to a British official who stated that there was no increased threat to coalition. Relations between the US and Iran have become extremely strained, especially since Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal with the country.
The State Department has ordered all non-essential, non-emergency government staff to leave Iraq immediately as increasing tensions with Iran risk spiralling towards a potential military conflict. The news comes after the U.S. beefed up its military presence in the region in response to what it claims are threats from Iran and its allies.
Iran seems to think so. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif rejected allegations that an attack on Saudi oil tankers near a strategic Persian Gulf waterway over the weekend was orchestrated by Iran, saying “some radical individuals inside the U.S. administration and the region” were pursuing “dangerous policies” in an attempt to pull the country into a military conflict with the U.S.
Saudi Arabia said explosive-laden drones had struck oil pumping stations in the Riyadh region on Tuesday in what it called “an act of terrorism” two days after Saudi oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. The U.S. was quick to blame Iran for the attack.
At the direction of National Security Adviser John Bolton, acting Defense Sec. Patrick Shanahan last week presented top White House national security officials with a plan to send up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East in the event that Iran should “attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons.”
Concerned about a military threat from Iran or its surrogates, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan has authorized a new deployment of Patriot missiles to the Middle East. The Patriot missile system is defensive in nature and designed to intercept incoming missiles.
The recent bravado from U.S. leaders on Iran and the recent movement of an aircraft carrier strike force in the region appear to be based off of Iranian intelligence intercepted at some of the highest levels. The intelligence indicated that Iran was telling its proxy forces and surrogates in the Middle East region to begin attacking U.S. personnel and assets.
President Trump signed an executive order sanctioning Iran’s industrial metals. Iran’s metal industry accounts for 10 percent of its export economy.
Iran’s president has declared his country will stop complying with two key commitments from the accord, pushing the animosity between Washington and Tehran into dangerous new territory. Iran will immediately begin to build up stockpiles of low enriched uranium and heavy water, which is used in nuclear reactors.
On Sunday, the National Security Council announced that the U.S. was sending a carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Gulf in response to “troubling and escalatory” warnings from Iran. Justifying the move, government officials cited intelligence indicating Iran had crafted plans to use proxies to strike U.S. forces in the region. Now, multiple sources close to the situation say the administration blew it out of proportion, characterizing the threat as more significant than it actually was.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceled a previously planned trip to Berlin to make a surprise visit to Baghdad. The visit comes amid escalating tensions with Iran. It is believed that Iran was targeting U.S. forces in Iraq.
Reporting is indicating that Iran is moving short range ballistic missiles by boat, possibly in an effort to target and attack U.S. forces in the region. This intelligence contributed to the decision made by the Trump administration and the Pentagon to deploy an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers in the region.
Israel sent intelligence to the U.S. about a potential Iranian plot that would target U.S. interests in the region. The U.S. responded by deploying a carrier task-force and bomber group to the Persian Gulf.
A statement from U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton reads, “In response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings, the United States is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the U.S. Central Command region to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”
Despite the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, Iran plans on keeping their end of the deal. Part of the deal allowed Iran to enrich low-level uranium.
Waivers for China, India, and Turkey to buy Iranian oil have officially expired. The three countries are hesitant to stop buying Iranian oil and are unsure if the US would place sanctions on them if they do not change their ways.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif went on Fox News Sunday morning to say that he believes the U.S. is trying to “bring Iran to its knees.” Zarif argued that President Trump’s advisers and Israel were pushing him toward a war with Iran, a war that Trump does not actually want. Zarif’s presence on Fox News was likely purposeful, considering that the president is a frequent watcher of the network.
Quitting a treaty designed to stop the spread of nuclear weapons is one of Iran’s “numerous choices” after the United States tightened sanctions on Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday.
An Iranian news agency released footage of a drone flying above the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and another warship in the Persian Gulf. The Iranians flaunted the footage, proud of their ability to successfully conduct surveillance on the carrier. All of this comes weeks after the U.S. declared Iran’s Guard as terrorists and Iran retaliated by declaring U.S. forces terrorists.
China is quite upset with Washington over the decision to end its waivers program on Iranian oil and to sanction any country that buys oil from Iran. China is being forced to make tough decisions on Iranian oil purchases, as one of the countries benefiting from U.S. waivers.
The two countries are seeking to expand border cooperation in the fight against terrorist groups and to bring peace to their neighbor, Afghanistan. The joint security force agreement comes days after a terrorist attack in Pakistan was committed by terrorists based in Iran.
The US is ending its waivers programs which previously allowed countries to buy Iranian oil without being sanctioned. Any country that buys Iranian oil may now be sanctioned by the US.
The Trump administration is set to end its 180-day oil waivers against U.S. sanctions that were granted to eight countries that rely on Iranian oil exports. China, India, and Turkey are among those that had hoped for an extension of the waivers when they expire May 2. Instead, the Trump administration has signaled it will end the dispensation in an effort to drive Iran’s oil exports down to zero.
The first Iranian female boxer to compete in a competitive match will not be traveling home. Sadef Khadem, who had won her first professional match in France, competed without wearing a hijab and with a male trainer, causing Iran to issue a warrant for her arrest.
A couple weeks after the US labeled Iran’s National Guard as terrorists, Iran officially responds by declaring US forces in the Middle East as terrorists. It is unclear how designations on both sides will affect already tense interactions between the two sides near the Strait of Hormuz.
Richard Nephew, a former director for Iran at the National Security Council who served as a member of the team who negotiated the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, said President Trump’s decision to designate the Revolutionary Guard as terrorists would most likely make American operations in the region “much more complicated.”