Congress still waiting for Iran briefings

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.

Rocket fired near Iraq’s US embassy

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.

Iranian foreign minister downplays tension with US

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.”

2003 called…it wants its war rationale back

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.

Iran runs a defiant posture

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”.

Trump ‘does not want war with Iran’

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 The U.S. has deployed warships and planes to the Gulf and withdrawn diplomatic staff from Iraq in recent days, citing threats from Iran for the moves.

David Ignatius: America and Iran are both oddly eager for war

“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.”

US says it has pics of Iranian missiles

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.

Jamsheed & Carol Choksy: Iran, give Trump a call

“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.'”

What’s going on with Iran?

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.

Pictures of Iranian missiles in Persian Gulf caused US panic

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.

Sen Chris Murphy & Rep Jim Himes: Stop the march to war

“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.”

US orders all non-essential embassy staff to leave Iraq

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.

Is Iran a ‘wag the dog’ situation?

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.

White House exploring plan to send ground troops to Iran

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.”

US deploys Patriot missiles to Middle East

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.

Intel showed Iranian leader OK’d attacks on US personnel

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.

Iran quits parts of nuclear deal

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.

Administration trumped up intel on Iran

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.

Iran is using boats to move ballistic missiles

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.

US deploys carrier and bomber task force to Iran

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.”

Burning the midnight oil

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.

Iran believes the US is trying to start a war

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.

Iran keeps an eye on US carrier

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.

Trump administration to cut off waivers for Iran’s oil sanctions

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.

Imitation game

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.