Over the past two weeks, the US and much of the world has been devoured by a frightening question: Will America be at war with Iran?
It is an understandable question. The Trump administration claims to have information indicating that Iran intends to attack the Americans in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Iran has ordered its proxies to prepare for the war, pointing out that it may soon resume some activities related to its nuclear program (though it did not announce to use a nuclear weapon).  These developments, coupled with the emergence of Iranian hawks in the administration, such as National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have led to the widespread fear that a kind of conflict between Washington and Tehran is imminent.
Here's the good news: At the moment, it seems pretty unlikely that a full-blown war is about to happen, especially because President Donald Trump and his American allies do not want it. It also does not seem to be Iran.
But the situation is still very tense and the room for error and misjudgment on both sides remains high.
So, what exactly is going on? How did we get here? Why did this escalation happen so suddenly? And what would a conflict with Iran look like at all? The confusion is fair. After all, Trump seems to enjoy that everyone – including the Iranians – is guessing.
The fake news media are hurting our country with its fraudulent and highly inaccurate coverage of Iran. It is scattered, poorly procured and DANGEROUS. At least Iran does not know what to think, which can be very good at this point!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 17, 2019
But do not worry, we'll cover you. Below are answers to some of the most urgent questions about the recent conflict between the US and Iran. hopefully you can breathe a bit easier.
1) What's going on?
The current crisis began on May 5 when national security adviser John Bolton announced that the US was deploying an aircraft carrier and bombers to the Persian Gulf in response to "a series of disturbing and escalating clues and warnings" from threats Iran.
This move, Bolton said, should "convey to the Iranian regime a clear and unequivocal message that any attack on the interests of the United States or that of our allies will be carried out with relentless force." does not seek a war with the Iranian regime, "but added:" We are fully prepared to respond to any attack, be it through a deputy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or regular Iranian forces. "
It was unclear at that time Exactly what this intelligence agency said, but in recent days the reports have provided a bit more clarity, apparently with the intention of attacking or even targeting US troops in Iraq and Syria There was also information that Iran was putting cruise missiles on ships, raising fears that it might attack US Navy vessels.
The severity of the US Navy's use of drones against Americans in an important waterway near Yemen Intelligence continues to be controversial and some say Bolton and others have inflated the threat and it is undisputed that America's response has dramatically increased tensions between the two countries – and a series of events in the following days only exacerbated the situation. On May 8, three days after Bolton's statement, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that his L would no longer comply with parts of the 2015 nuclear agreement if the European signatories of the agreement did not grant Iran financial relief within 60 days.
In particular, Rouhani said Iran would begin to store extra low-enriched uranium and heavy water used in nuclear reactors that could be used to make a nuclear weapon and would enrich uranium to previously prohibited levels.
All these actions continue to be banned under the agreement, in which Iran, as well as some European powers, Russia and China are still involved. The decision of Tehran, which had telegraphed days ahead of it, came exactly one year after Trump's US commitment to the agreement ended.
Rouhani made sure that this was not an escalation. "The road we have chosen today is not the path of war."
] Nevertheless, this set the stage for a possible confrontation: The Trump administration does not want Iran to get a nuclear weapon, and while Rouhani's announcement would still not nearly bring Teheran to the receipt of the bomb, she moved a little closer. And with the threat of a military struggle, the likelihood of miscalculation increased.
But it did not stop here. A few days later, four oil tankers were damaged in attacks near the Strait of Hormuz, a vital waterway aggressively controlled by Iran, producing one third of the world's liquefied natural gas and nearly 20 percent of world oil production.
Two of the oil tankers belonged to Saudi Arabia and one to the United Arab Emirates – both strong enemies of Iran and friends of the United States. (The fourth was owned by a Norwegian company.)
Unidentified US officials told NBC News that it was "very likely" that Iran or its allies were behind the attacks, a similar conclusion from a Norwegian insurance company This evaluates the shipping risk, according to a confidential Reuters report. However, details of the attacks remain unclear, and neither the United States nor any other person has publicly submitted concrete evidence to substantiate the allegations against Iran.
Iran itself denied any involvement – but a day later, Iran-backed Houthi rebels launched an attack on a Saudi oil pipeline in Yemen. And one of the leading Iranian military has called on militia in Iraq to prepare for war. This may explain why the US decided last week to remove some staff from the embassy in Baghdad and its consulate in Erbil.
The Trump government has also sent missile defense batteries to the Middle East, giving the growing military even more firepower stance there.
Taken together, this is a difficult, delicate and dangerous situation that can get out of hand unless carefully managed by both countries. Fears of war are widespread, and it is not clear how the US and Iran will go back from the brink.
2) Why is that all right now?
The US and Iran have been at odds for decades. Since a revolution in Iran in 1979 that overthrew US-backed and deployed leaders, both countries have held aggressive positions over the other. Over the years, Iran-backed groups have fought and attacked US forces, killing hundreds of American troops. The US has also launched its own attacks, including a devastating cyberattack, a sea-strike and the Iranian airliner.
In other words, relations between the US and Iran have always been a small push at the height of the times to make a ubiquitous dilemma worse. In this case, three recent "attacks" triggered the current stalemate.
First, the US withdrew from Iran's nuclear deal last year, sanctioning the country again and forcing European allies to stop importing Iranian oil. This has started to fuel the Iranian economy.
Second, intelligence and military actions have been carried out over the last two weeks.
According to Thursday's Wall Street Journal, one interpretation of the information received in the US is that Iran feared an impending US attack. As a result, Iran is taking provocative measures in preparation.
This view would be useful, according to some Iran experts. "Counter-attacks in response to pressure are an integral part of the Iranian playbook," tweeted Suzanne Maloney (19459014), an Iran expert on the think tank at the Brookings Institution in Washington on May 6 (19659036) about the Iranian Islamic Republic. The Army Shows Solidarity with the people on the street during the Iranian revolution. They carry posters of the Iranian religious and political leader Ayatollah Khomeini. "data-upload-width =" 2865 "src =" https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/M64tqGLgtfch9MZIReShkyLsvwM=/0x0:2865×2234/1200×0/filters:focal(0x0:2865×2234):no_upscale()/cdn .vox cdn.com / uploads / chorus_asset / file / 16283311 / 2659698.jpg.jpg "/>
In such situations, misperceptions and misjudgments are always worrisome. For example, a false move by the US could lead Iran to think of an impending war, forcing Tehran to take aggressive countermeasures or even launch its own attacks. The same is true when Tehran frightens Washington with an action that causes the White House to approve a strike.
This brings us to the third "push": Iran bargains in the Trump administration, which itches after a fight.
John Bolton, Trump's main national security adviser, has long argued for a regime change in Iran, and argues for bombing the country to prevent it from receiving a nuclear weapon. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also urged the US to face the Iranian regime.
In May last year, he gave a speech in which he outlined 12 ways in which the clerical government must change – including cessation of its support for proxy groups and the cessation of its missile program – before US financial and diplomatic pressure pick up from Tehran.
Together they must have made the Trump government much more against the Islamic Republic. It is a clear contrast to the time when Trump was flanked by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Although they both expressed deep mistrust of Iran, they did not raise maximalist demands or threaten conflicts so boldly.
It is important to note that Trump says he does not want to go to war with Iran, but the problem is that he is effectively outsourcing his Iran policy to the Falcons. This means that in a time when cooler minds should prevail, there are not many cool heads to be found.
"Moments like these are where institutions should play a role: Cabinet-level leadership, serious political decision-making, intelligence standards, professional ethics. All these factors have been undermined by the Trump government. " Maloney tweeted.
3) Wait, why do Bolton and Pompeo hate Iran so much?
It is difficult to find two other anti-Iranian figures in Washington as the national security adviser and Secretary of State.
Let's start with Bolton: The longtime Republican official and activist has seldom found an authoritarian regime he did not want to punish, but Iran seems to hold a special place in his heart.
In 2015, he wrote a statement for the New York Times advocating that the US bomb Iran to prevent it from getting a nuclear weapon. "Iran will not negotiate its nuclear program," wrote Bolton, criticizing the Obama administration's efforts to conclude a diplomatic deal with Tehran. "The inconvenient truth is that only military action … can achieve what is needed. The time is terribly short, but a strike can still be successful. "
In 2017, just eight months before becoming Trump's third national security adviser, Bolton delivered a paid speech to an Iranian exile group seeking to overthrow the country's leadership.
He clearly agrees with them: "The declared policy of the United States should be the overthrow of the mullah regime in Tehran," he said. "The regime's behavior and goals will not change, so the only solution is to change the regime itself."
"Before 2019, we will be celebrating here in Tehran," he concluded. Well, it's 2019, so maybe Bolton hopes to make up for lost time.
Where Bolton's Animus seems driven by Cold War era thinking, Pompeo seems to come from something much deeper.
The nation's chief diplomat made it No secret of his evangelical Christian faith, which he admits, derives his political views. This also applies to the world affairs in which, because of his religious belief, he fully supports Israel, a key American ally, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who sees Iran as an existential threat to his country.
For example, Pompeo and Netanyahu promised in Jerusalem on March 20 that they would continue their joint pressure on Iran. Five days later, the secretary delivered a speech to the pro-Israel lobby group of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to demonstrate his support for the US ally and his contempt for Iran.
"We have tackled the strongest pressure campaign against Iran and its deputies, and they feel the pain," said Pompeo with applause. He added, "Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, and any nation that works for anti-Zionism like Iran needs to be confronted. We must defend the legitimate homeland of the Jewish people. "
Pompeo has explicitly linked American fighting stance against Iran with the support of Israel. While he has also said that Iran deserves to be pushed back if it is pursuing a nuclear program and supporting terrorists and dictators like Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Pompeo clearly sees Iran as a threat to a country that is Christian Belief is important.
This means that Bolton and Pompeo are unlikely to reduce growing tensions with Iran. If anything, they will want to escalate as soon as they have the chance.
4) Are the US and Iran at war?
Take a deep breath: It does not look like the US will be at war with Iran anytime soon, though that possibility can not be fully counted. However, there are three main reasons for optimism (or just not complete pessimism).
First, according to some experts, US military operations in the Middle East are not uncommon.
Sure, the US recently relocated a missile defense battery to the region, but four months ago Ilan Goldenberg an Iran expert at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, tweeted on 11 May. He added that the aircraft carrier sent to the Middle East to repel an Iranian attack should be in the region earlier.
"So, what happens? Someone in the administration has decided to dramatically increase the US government's media position in connection with these operations in order to put pressure on Iran, "Goldenberg continued. The reason for the exaggeration, however, is not very clear.
Second, Trump does not want a war with Iran. He pledged not to engage the US in wars abroad, especially in the Middle East. While Trump is not a pigeon in Iran and seems to enjoy US pressure on him, he is not ready for a fight like some around him. He reportedly told his Pentagon chief on Wednesday that he did not want to engage in a skirmish with Iran at the moment.
And when Trump was asked on Thursday if the US would get Iran, he simply replied, "Do not hope. Third, it does seem that tensions are likely to subside significantly. For example, Pompeo relies on European allies to force Iran to "escalate" tensions, the New York Times reported Thursday. It is unclear whether he is doing so on Trump's orders or whether he has decided to stop his typical Iranian policy for the time being. And, according to the Wall Street Journal, two US destroyers drove through Strait of Hormuz without a hitch last Thursday. "It was the quietest transit we've seen in a long time," a defense attorney told the journal.
So the conflict between the US and Iran is not quite as bad as it seems and could calm down in the coming days. This is of course not guaranteed, as there is always room for error. At the moment, however, it does not look like the US and Iran are at war.
5) If the US decides to go to war with Iran, what are the reasons for that?
Based on statements by the Trump administration and US policies, America could opt for war for three reasons: 1) Iran is about to procure a nuclear weapon. 2) The US decides to overthrow the regime. 3) Iran is launching a massive attack on the Americans, calling for an even greater response.
Let's start with the nuclear issue. The US policy in this and in previous governments is that Iran should not have a nuclear weapon. That's why President Barack Obama has signed Iran's nuclear deal to delay Tehran's bombing. Trump retired from business for a number of reasons, but one of them was that he claimed it had increased Iran's ability to receive a nuclear bomb, even though most experts disagree.
To date, Iran is still far from having a reliable nuclear arsenal – and it has never officially claimed to be looking for the bomb at all. But if you're serious about that, you could imagine people like Bolton and Netanyahu pushing for a military strike in their nuclear facilities. As a sign of Israel's seriousness in the matter, it has reportedly killed even nuclear scientists working for the Iranian regime.
But what would that do in the long run? Would we be able to prevent Iran from ever getting a bomb if he really wanted it?
"We can probably destroy the existing program," Richard Nephew, an Iranian nuclear agreement architect, told me. But "we can not stop Iran from restoring this program. In that case, we would either have to attack again in the future to tackle a restored nuclear program or resign ourselves to the fact that Iran has a nuclear weapon. "
An attack on Iran could actually force the country to seriously prosecute the bomb to hold more US strikes.
Okay, how about starting a war to overthrow the regime? This is even less likely, as it would require a huge military effort. Reports show that a management plan foresees the deployment of 120,000 US troops to the Middle East, a plan that Trump denies is in the works.
Colin Kahl who oversaw the Pentagon's Iranian planning from 2009 to 2011, tweeted on May 13 that the US would only send so many members of the service if regime change was the goal, even though he noted that he is still too small force for a complete invasion.
By comparison, the US sent about 150,000 troops during the initial phase of the 2003 invasion of Iraq – and Iran is a much larger country than Iraq.
If the White House wants to break down the Iranian leadership permanently, it would have to launch an invasion even bigger than Iraq's – which would lead to one of the most terrible wars of recent times, killing hundreds of thousands.
It's hard to imagine that Trump would find much love for a comprehensive war. "Almost no one would support an Iraqi invasion for a regime change under the current circumstances," said Eric Brewer, who had worked in Trump's National Security Council on Iran. "It's hard to stress how costly such a conflict would be."
Eventually, a war could break out if Iran attacked the American forces. The Iranian military leadership is on high alert with their troops and deputies, but that does not mean that Tehran intends to attack the Americans directly.
The Islamic Republic is almost certainly aware that any action that puts US troops, diplomats, or individuals at risk, provides Trump advisers, such as Bolton or Pompeo, with the ammunition needed to advance the war.
The pressure on Trump will also be to respond, if not more energetically, to benefits in kind during this tense time, if Iran kills Americans. This does not prompt Teheran to take any overly provocative steps.
Fortunately, none of these major warpaths seems particularly open. And although it is unlikely that this will be the case, this is also no certainty.
6) What would a war with Iran look like?
That really depends on what the US wants to achieve, experts say. As mentioned above, the war could take the form of targeted US military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities, or look like a complete US invasion of Iran.
However, it is worth noting that the US and Iran can fight each other at a subordinate level.
For example, the US could launch cyberattacks on Iran's infrastructure and power grid, a plan the military has already called "Nitro Zeus." The Obama administration used this method to overthrow part of the Iranian nuclear program. However, Iran has its own cyber capabilities to address important American companies or even the government.
In addition, the Iranian missions in the Middle East may appeal to Americans in Iraq, Syria or elsewhere in the Middle East. Perhaps worried about this possibility, the US removed staff from two of its missions in Iraq last week.
It is important that Iran has no nuclear weapons, so that the worst conceivable attack is off the table. Nevertheless, it is possible that Tehran is targeting American ships and troops in the region with its growing missile program.
It would therefore not require a tough fight for things to really get really bad between the US and Iran quickly. Let's hope we do not find out.
7) Does anyone outside the US want an Iran war?
Mainly no, but there are some who do.
Israel, which has argued in the past for strikes against Iran, is actively trying to stay out of the fight. The main reason is that a major war with Tehran would certainly affect Israel, most likely against Hezbollah, Iran's allies and deputies in Lebanon.
According to Axios, Netanyahu has told his top defense and intelligence agency that his country "should make every effort not to be involved in the escalation in the Gulf and not interfere directly with the situation." The United Arab Emirates have withdrawn their openly hawkish Iranian stance in order not to trigger a war at present.
Russia and European countries, especially those still involved in the Iranian nuclear deal, are also working as mediators to end the standoff. Experts also say that European nations are very concerned that millions of refugees are pouring into the continent if a war with Iran breaks out, putting massive pressure on governments already dealing with the consequences of the Syrian refugee crisis would.
This is bad news for Bolton and others who might want a full-scale war with Iran. For the US to succeed, they need the political and military support of Israel and the Europeans. Without them, the US would struggle to gain international legitimacy, and they need help not only to win the fight, but also to deal with its immense consequences.
But the US has some support for a fight. Most of it comes from Saudi Arabia, which was involved in a decades-long cold war with Iran for control in the Middle East. Arab News, a Riyadh newspaper, recently called on the US to launch a "surgical strike" against Iran.
However, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir recently told reporters that "the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not want war in the region and does not seek it." He added, "If the other side chooses war, the kingdom will fight it with all its might and determination and defend itself, its citizens and its interests."
Yet, it seems that the US will, if they decide If they were to start a war with Iran, they would do so for the most part alone, which must certainly also be a pause for those who itch after a fight in the Trump administration.
8) This feels like preparation for Is it similar?
Not really, no. "There are legitimate concerns that some members of the government are putting information in a certain light to advance their goals of regime change, but I think that there are more differences than similarities with Iraq, "says Brewer, who is now at the Center for a New American Security in Washington.
In the run-up to the Iraq war, the government of George W. Bush clearly and repeatedly states that Saddam Hussein, the brutal dictator of the country, possessed weapons of mass destruction. The problem is that it was based on cherry-picked information that proved untrustworthy and led the US to wage a war based on misinformation and misleading public behavior.
Administration – through large speeches, interviews, etc. – to present their arguments for the war. None of this seems to happen now, "Brewer told me.
Yet, there is a good reason to compare the current moment in Iran to the one in Iraq earlier this year, with a republican government with some of the same personalities in it. Bolton), and with reports showing that Trump's team may inflate what Iran is really up to, it's no wonder that eyebrows and goose bumps are building up across the country. Machen wir uns also klar, was wir tatsächlich wissen – das ist, was die USA laut Berichten wissen gefunden:
Experten sind sich weitgehend einig, dass solche Intelligenz existiert und glaubwürdig ist. Worin sie sich unterscheiden, hängt davon ab, inwieweit dies eindeutig ein neues Niveau iranischer Aggression zeigt.
Phillip Smyth, Iran-Experte am Washingtoner Institut für Nahostpolitik, sagte mir, dass die großen Bedrohung en durch die Bevollmächtigten Teherans seit Anfang 2018 andauern. "Es gab in der Vergangenheit Manöver, die den Amerikanern ein Signal für eine sich verschlechternde regionale Situation gaben."
Aber er merkte an, dass nur, weil es Anzeichen dafür gibt, dass ein Angriff stattfinden könnte, ein iranischer Stellvertreter nicht den Willen bedeutet starte bald eine. "Diese Leute sind sehr schlau und sehr geduldig mit ihrer Planung und Ausführung", sagte er.
Andere, wie Brookings Maloney sagten, die Leute sollten nicht davon ausgehen, dass die Intelligenz vor allem deshalb falsch ist Der Iran würde sich wahrscheinlich mit Nachdruck gegen den Widerspruch der Trump-Regierung revanchieren.
Was jedoch viele zu denken gibt, ist, dass es einen Unterschied zu geben scheint, was die USA und ihre Verbündeten aus dem Geheimdienst ableiten. Ein britischer Spitzenbeamter, der am Kampf der Koalition gegen ISIS im Irak beteiligt war, sagte Pentagon-Reportern letzte Woche, dass die Bedrohungen nicht außergewöhnlich seien.
In der Zwischenzeit traf sich eine überparteiliche Gruppe von Senatoren am vergangenen Donnerstag mit Vertretern des Weißen Hauses, um mehr über den iranischen Geheimdienst zu erfahren. Der Gesetzgeber bot der Presse nach seiner Abreise nicht viel an, aber Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), der führende Demokrat im Geheimdienstausschuss des Senats, sagte: „Es ist sehr wichtig, dass mehr Mitglieder diese Geschichte hören.“
Mit den Informationen vertraute US-Verteidigungs- und Geheimdienstbeamte würden mir nicht mehr Informationen liefern, als es bereits öffentlich ist.
Was dies vom Irakkrieg unterscheidet, ist, dass sowohl der Kongress als auch die Presse sich weigern, die Informationen der Regierung zu übernehmen Ansprüche zum Nennwert, und drängen stattdessen die Trump-Administration, diese Ansprüche mit tatsächlichen Beweisen zu sichern.
"Wir haben leider erfahren, dass im Irak, wenn die Dinge hinter verschlossenen Türen erledigt werden und das amerikanische Volk nicht umfassend informiert ist, dies zu erheblichen außenpolitischen Fehlern führen kann", sagte Chuck Schumer, Vorsitzender der Senatsminorität, am Donnerstag vor dem nachrichtendienstliche Unterrichtung.
9) Hat der Konflikt zwischen den USA und dem Iran irgendetwas mit Öl zu tun?
Man fragt sich, ob es nur darum geht, mehr zu kontrollieren, wenn die USA im Nahen Osten in den Krieg ziehen Öl. Dies ist in gewissem Maße gerecht, da die USA und andere Weltmächte Kriege zur Übernahme von Energiequellen geführt haben.
Das ist hier nicht wirklich der Fall. Was die USA jedoch interessiert, ist die Gewährleistung, dass Schiffe frei durch die Straße von Hormuz fahren dürfen, durch die etwa 40 Prozent der weltweiten Ölschiffe fahren. Wenn die Spannungen zwischen den USA und dem Iran zunehmen, droht der Iran normalerweise, die Meerenge zu schließen.
Dies würde den globalen Energiemarkt in die Enge treiben und eine weltweite Krise auslösen.
Doch der Iran folgt normalerweise nicht mit seiner Bestürzung, da er sich sicherlich der Wut bewusst ist, die von den Vereinigten Staaten und anderen erwartet wird. Als letzte Woche die Nachricht von mysteriösen Angriffen auf Öltanker in der Nähe der Meerenge bekannt wurde, gab es Bedenken, dass Teheran möglicherweise einen Weg gefunden hat, eine Nachricht zu senden (auch hier bestreitet der Iran jedoch, irgendetwas mit der Sabotage zu tun zu haben). Die Drohnenangriffe iranischer Rebellen auf die Ölpipeline von Saudi-Arabien im Jemen haben ebenfalls keine Bedenken ausgeräumt.
„Indem Teheran signalisiert, dass diese Versorgung nicht sicher ist und gestört werden kann, lässt es die Welt wissen, dass es Eskalationsoptionen gibt. Sagt Behnam Ben Taleblu, ein Experte der Foundation for the Defence of Democracies, einer Denkfabrik in Washington, die sich für eine hawkische Iran-Politik einsetzt.
Obwohl die fortgesetzte Versorgung mit billigem Öl für die USA definitiv wichtig ist, ist dies nicht der eigentliche Grund, warum einige in der Trump-Administration heute auf einen Iran-Kampf drängen. Das kommt wirklich darauf an: Bolton, Pompeo und andere wollen einen Regimewechsel im Iran und setzen Geheimdienste ein, die Teheran zeigen, wie es provokative Dinge tut, um für eine kämpferischere Haltung einzutreten.
Die Hoffnung ist nun, dass Trump sie weiterhin auf Distanz hält. A source told me that the president is already calling friends to complain about Bolton and even asking about who might be a good replacement.
Which means that war with Iran remains an unlikely possibility — at least for now.