By Jon Dougherty
(NationalSentinel) The Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” sanctions regime directed against Iran is so effective that the Islamic republic has begun lashing out in frustration as it seeks to gain an advantage.
That explains, according to experts, why Iran has seized two British oil tankers in the past 24 hours and why Tehran’s leaders have taken other provocative acts in recent weeks.
But Iran’s actions will likely draw sharp responses from the United States, Britain, and our allies if Tehran continues to act in a belligerent manner, these experts say.
As he left the White House for a trip to New Jersey on Friday, POTUS Donald Trump told reporters that the Iranian government is so cash-poor it is unable to pay its proxy forces throughout the Middle East, thanks in large part to sanctions aimed at curbing the country’s oil exports, it’s primary source of income.
“Iran is in big trouble right now,” the president said. “Their economy is crashing. … They’re trying to bring soldiers back home (from abroad) because they can’t pay them. A lot of bad things are happening to them.”
The president then issued a thinly-veiled threat. “It’s very easy to straighten out, or it’s very easy for us to make it a lot worse,” he said.
Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), a former Green Beret commander, said in an interview with Fox News that U.S. intelligence — which POTUS has no doubt been monitoring — that “the president’s clear: The maximum pressure campaign is working.”
“The Iranian regime is desperate and lashing out as it’s done in the past,” he continued, noting that because of U.S.-led sanctions, Iranian oil exports have dropped from 2.5 million barrels per day to just under 400,000.
“Their currency is tanking, their economy is inflating, and they are lashing out,” Waltz said.
John Yoo, former deputy attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, noted that Iran’s behavior today is nothing new. He noted that towards the end of the 1980s-era Iran-Iraq war, Tehran began attacking and seizing oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, only to have the U.S. Navy step up and begin escorting tanker vessels and allowing them to reflag under the U.S. banner.
When Iran attacked those ships, then-President Ronald Reagan authorized the U.S. Navy to defend itself, which resulted in the sinking of several Iranian warships and the destruction of a number of Iranian oil platforms.
That may be what it takes now to get Iran to back off, Yoo said.
“If Iran is risking a confrontation like that again, then I’m afraid the U.S. Navy will have to defend American ships” in the Strait of Hormuz, he said.
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