It appears there are multiple players attempting to calm escalating tensions in the Gulf between Washington and Tehran.
United States – Former U.S. state secretary and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has suggested that Washington should engage in diplomacy with Iran rather than threats of military force which Trump has been prone to.
“You know Winston Churchill famously said in his typical quotable fashion: ‘jaw, jaw, the jaw is always better than war, war, war,’” Clinton said at a memorial service for Democratic Representative Ellen Tauscher, who died in April, Fox News reported Tuesday.
“That is what we did with the Iran negotiations — put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program,” Clinton said in an apparent reference to her diplomatic efforts during the Obama administration. “That is what we should still be doing.”
In response to Trump’s Sunday tweet heard around the world: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”
In response to Trump’s tweet, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted back: “Goaded by #B_Team, @realdonaldTrump hopes to achieve what Alexander, Genghis & other aggressors failed to do. Iranians have stood tall for millennia while aggressors all gone. #EconomicTerrorism & genocidal taunts won’t “end Iran”. #NeverThreatenAnIranian. Try respect—it works!”
The B-Team, a term coined by Zarif, includes Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton, Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel (known as bibi), Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ).
Back in 2018 Hillary criticized Trump’s decision to withdrawal from the nuclear deal warning that this would seriously damage US credibility around the world.
On May 18th, Hillary tweeted: “As Secretary of State, I helped negotiate the crippling international sanctions that brought Iran to the table. It would be much harder a second time, now that our credibility is shot.”
Tweet Salt between Trump and Zarif
Goaded by #B_Team, @realdonaldTrump hopes to achieve what Alexander, Genghis & other aggressors failed to do. Iranians have stood tall for millennia while aggressors all gone. #EconomicTerrorism & genocidal taunts won’t “end Iran”. #NeverThreatenAnIranian. Try respect—it works!
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) May 20, 2019
With the #B_Team doing one thing & @realDonaldTrump saying another thing, it is apparently the U.S. that “doesn’t know what to think”.
We in Iran have actually known what to think for millennia—and about the U.S., since 1953.
At this point, that is certainly “a good thing!”
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) May 17, 2019
In final 2 days of Asia tour—Turkmenistan, India, China & Japan—fruitful discussions w/ FM Kono & PM Abe in Tokyo, & FM Wang Yi in Beijing. Int’l community, #JCPOA members, & our partners must step up efforts to restore stability & save JCPOA through concrete economic measures. pic.twitter.com/pXwFZb9h7s
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) May 17, 2019
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is due to arrive in Islamabad on Thursday (May 23) as part of a national effort to garner Pakistan support amid rising tensions in the Arabian Gulf region. Holding meetings with civil and military authorities, Zarif will brief the Pakistani leadership about Iran’s ongoing tensions with the United States. He has already traveled to other regional countries including China, Japan, India and Turkmenistan. Pakistan leaders were also briefed about Iran’s continuing commitment Iranian to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) endorsed by the UN Security Council Resolution 2231. After the United States decided on its own to withdraw from the agreement a year ago, Iran took reciprocal measures based on articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA. Pakistan not only has close ties with its neighbor, but also with Saudi Arabia (One of Iran’s main rivals). Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has stated that Pakistan would stay neutral in case of a conflict. Its official stance is to urge both the US and Iran to show maximum restraint and for both to move forward with dialogue as the only way to make real progress. Escalation in tensions would be detrimental for the entire region.
The Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi stated on Tuesday that he will send delegations to Washington and Tehran to help resolve the tension amid rising fears of a military conflict between Iran and the United States. He mentioned that no groups in Iraq wanted a war between the US and Iran two days after a rocket fired from Baghdad landed close to the US Embassy. The US believes this may have been inspired by Iran. No one claimed responsibility for the rocket fired into the Green Zone which houses government buildings and diplomatic missions. However, Washington suspected Shiite militias with ties to Iran were behind this. Iran has denied any involvement. Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/iraq-seeking-to-help-calm-iran-u-s-tensions/29954893.html
Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi visited Tehran on Monday two days after a telephone call between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Sultan Qaboos of Oman. The Omani minister met with his Iranian counterpart and government officials according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) but did not elaborate beyond saying they had “discussed bilateral relations and regional issues”.
Hours after the visit, US President Donald Trump tweeted that his country was not seeking negotiations with Iran and was still waiting for a call from Tehran asking to negotiate. “Iran will call us if and when they are ever ready. In the meantime, their economy continues to collapse – very sad for the Iranian people,” Trump’s tweet said.
However, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country would not negotiate under economic siege and military threats. “I favor talks and diplomacy, but under current conditions, I do not accept it, as today’s situation is not suitable for talks and our choice is resistance only,” Rouhani said, the IRNA reported.
Just days after the telephone call between Pompeo and the sultan of Oman, Saudi air defences shot down a group of missiles over Taif and Jeddah. Oman and others are making an effort to bring both sides to the negotiating table. However each party is trying to set out its positions prior to any negotiations taking place. Pompeo’s call to the Sultan was seen as an attempt to open the door on negotiations. The official US state department announcement of the contact said that the “secretary and the sultan also discussed Iranian threats to the Gulf region more broadly.” The secret Iranian-American negotiations that led to the nuclear deal with the West in 2015 (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPA) from which the United States withdrew last year took place in Muscat.
Even though Trump says he is not negotiating, there are already negotiations taking place (albeit through 3rd parties). It appears that Iran will seek assistance from Pakistan and Iran to want to protect its interests while something is worked out that will reassure Washington that it does not want war or be seen as posing a threat to US interests in the Middle East. However, Washington will have to wake up to the reality that you can’t have it both ways (i.e. Iran’s full cooperation while retaining crippling economic sanctions).