Despite appearances, Iran is losing its struggle against the West and will eventually come back to the negotiating table, a top Israeli security analyst estimated on Sunday.
Tensions in the Gulf have skyrocketed in recent days over the downing of an American drone by Iranian forces and the seizure of a British cargo ship, following the British seizure of an Iranian vessel near Gibraltar.
In a column for Israeli news website Mako, veteran Israeli journalist Ehud Ya’ari said that “no one wants a war in the Persian Gulf,” including President Donald Trump, the Europeans, and the Arab states.
However, he added, “Iran also has left no room for doubt that it has no desire to absorb military blows — it threatens to respond with force but not to initiate a deterioration.”
As a result, Ya’ari said, the region is likely to see a series of small gestures, aggressions, pushbacks, and other forms of brinkmanship. Iran, however, will not take action that could bring down Western retaliation in force.
“It is true that the Iranians are heating the waters of the Persian Gulf as they groan under the weight of the sanctions, but they will not bring things to a boiling point,” Ya’ari declared.
In fact, Ya’ari stated, “the wave of warnings against escalation ignores what is really happening: the opposite of escalation.”
Iran, he noted, has stopped attacks on Saudi Arabia by the Yemenite militias it controls, and has done the same in Iraq. It has also pulled back on its provocations along Israel’s northern border.
In the same manner, the US has not sent the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln into the Gulf itself, and even a symbolic deployment to Saudi Arabia amounted to only 500 troops.
Moreover, channels of communication still exist between Iran and the US, which will be used to prevent unwanted escalation.
At the same time, US sanctions are having a major impact, and there is no way for the Europeans to successfully circumvent them, even if they wanted to.
As a result, said Ya’ari, “The Iranians know — and they are already stuttering in this direction — that they will have to sit at the negotiating table [for talks on] improving the nuclear agreement from 2015. This is exactly what Trump wants and in this regard the Europeans support him.”
Such a situation, Ya’ari said, is “precisely the point that Israel wants to achieve: to keep Iran bound by the restrictions imposed by the nuclear accord, while striving to fill the gaps in Obama’s agreement.”
Although it “will not be immediate, it will not be simple,” Ya’ari said, this strategy will bear fruit for both Israel and the West.