As Donald Trump takes to the U.N. General Assembly to demonize Iran yet again, the Trump administration is also considering a more aggressive strategy towards Iran behind closed doors, sources have told Reuters.
According to six current and former U.S. officials, the U.S. will be looking at more hostile responses to Iran’s forces, its proxy armies in Iraq and Syria, and its support for militant groups.
According to the sources, the current proposal was drafted by Defense Secretary Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, national security advisor General H.R. McMaster, and several other top officials before it was presented to President Trump at a National Security Council meeting on September 9.
The proposal will ultimately be made public before the end of September, two of the sources said. The sources requested anonymity because the draft proposal had not yet been finalized.
“I would call it a broad strategy for the range of Iranian malign activities: financial materials, support for terror, destabilization in the region, especially Syria and Iraq and Yemen,” said a senior administration official, as quoted by Reuters.
Without giving specific details, sources said the current draft proposal seeks to do the following:
(1) target cyber espionage and nuclear proliferation;
(2) provide for more aggressive U.S. interceptions of Iranian arms shipments heading to places such as Yemen and Gaza (even though U.N. experts confirmed earlier this year that they could find no evidence of a large-scale Iranian weapons supply line to Yemen);
(3) react more aggressively in Bahrain (presumably, to prop up the government in the face of Shia-led unrest) as the country’s Sunni Muslim monarchy has been suppressing its majority Shia population, a move that continues to anger Iran; and most importantly
(4) allow U.S. naval forces to react more forcefully when harassed by armed speedboats operated by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Funnily enough, many of the encounters taking place between U.S. ships and Iranian ships are arguably within Iranian waters. Who is harassing who, exactly?
According to Reuters’ sources, this proposal will not include an escalation of U.S. military activity in Syria and Iraq. However, anyone who has been paying close attention to the current conflict in Syria and Iraq knows the U.S. will have to take concrete military action if it intends to meaningfully oppose Iranian-backed forces in the two countries. Despite this, Reuters’ sources said Mattis and McMaster have not allowed U.S. military generals on the ground to act forcefully against the Iranian-allied militia inside Syria, including Hezbollah and the IRGC.
According to Reuters, one of the officials even said Iranian-backed groups had been “very helpful” in recapturing territories from ISIS since it declared its caliphate in 2014.
In that context, does the Trump administration’s distaste for Iran make any sense, given Iran is enemy number one for ISIS and its proxies are some of the most effective fighting forces against the terror group?
Regarding the fate of the nuclear accord signed in 2015, Donald Trump recently said:
“You’ll see what I’m going to be doing very shortly in October…But I will say this, the Iran deal is one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen, certainly at a minimum, the spirit of the deal is just atrociously kept. But the Iran deal is not a fair deal to this country. It’s a deal that should have never ever been made. And you’ll see what we’re doing in a couple of weeks.”