Trump's imaginary coalition in Persian Gulf : A mile wide, an inch deep
Bobby Naderi
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Editor's note: Bobby Naderi is a journalist, current affairs commentator, documentary filmmaker and member of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain. The article reflects the author's opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

On Tuesday, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford claimed Washington plans to put together a "coalition to ensure freedom of navigation both in the Straits of Hormuz and Bab al-Mandeb."

The United States, which used to carry out clandestine wars and cyber-attacks in more than half the nations on the planet, is no longer able to sell fire insurance to its allies in the Persian Gulf. It has emerged that Washington is desperately trying to outsource its ongoing "maximum pressure" campaign against "the bogeyman" Iran by having allies seize Iranian oil tankers - advertised publicly as "freedom of navigation."

Before cashing his check, General Dunford should realize that his dodgy coalition - if any - would be a mile wide and three-quarters of an inch deep. This is because no ally in the region is in the mood to be caught in a riptide of yet another conflict and preparations for more of the same. There are some tough questions for this.

 

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, April 26, 2018. /VCG Photo

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, April 26, 2018. /VCG Photo

Iran seeks no escalation. foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has offered to sign non-aggression pacts with all countries in the Persian Gulf and Tehran's offer is still on the table. The call for dialogue and de-escalation has not fallen on deaf ears.

If anything, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir has said, "Riyadh does not want a war in the region, nor does it seek that."

Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash has equally said tensions in the region could only be contained through dialogue, and that priority is to end the unnatural standoff with Tehran.

It isn't just that. Legally, Washington's incoherent plan to isolate "the bogeyman" and seize its oil tankers in international waters is on shaky ground. If truth is the first casualty of this illegal campaign, international law is the last. By putting "maximum pressure" on Iran, which is as much about Israel's regional security as it is about regime change in Tehran, the U.S. is breaking the fundamental norms of international law and the Charter of United Nations. All the reason why Trump shouldn't expect much support from the European Union allies either.

It's no small thing to argue that it's a dead give-away. General Dunford's problem is that Washington has no coalition partners to seize Iranian tankers. At this point, it isn't also clear any petrodollar ally plans to do anything other than continue to bankroll American bases and troops. These rich "allies" are not inclined to seize tankers, because promises of Iranian retaliation are large and expanding too.

As its troubles mount, and whatever the final details that might emerge, the desperate attempt by General Dunford brings out the utter failure of U.S. policies and the terrible cost that its allies have been paying in such a pointless containment strategy. Despite the failure, the U.S. is still escalating the situation, as a consequence of which, Iran has not only gained strength from its rightful stance against U.S. bullying, it has also won support of the European Union, China and Russia - the remaining signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal.

 

U.S. Senator Mitt Romney speaks to media after a closed-door briefing on Iran at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, May 21, 2019. /VCG Photo

U.S. Senator Mitt Romney speaks to media after a closed-door briefing on Iran at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, May 21, 2019. /VCG Photo

To be sure, the threat of a new war is not only for Iran. Iran could shut the Strait of Hormuz and attack those who seize its oil tankers on the other side of the international waterway. It might as well find Iraq and Afghanistan a much softer target than the Persian Gulf to hit American bases and troops with ballistic missiles. If Iran makes a dash for its Arab neighbors, will their governments be able to hold? How much of the old order including the Arab monarchies will survive if they become targets as well?

For all its bellicose rhetoric, therefore, the maintenance of America's superpower prestige through a full-scale tanker war with Iran is not the answer to the unfolding mess in the Persian Gulf. The way to peace and security is for the U.S. to drop its silly "maximum pressure" crusade and leave the region's security to the own littoral states. Without this step, the Persian Gulf cannot be free of tension and strife of all varieties.

It isn't just that. Speaking of things not past, U.S. President Donald Trump made a strategic blunder by trashing the historic nuclear deal Tehran signed with world powers after several years of negotiations and diplomatic maneuvers that was also ratified by the United Nations Security Council. Trump now feels obliged to stand his foolish ground and save face in entirely new conditions rather than change course and call it quits.

Added to this, another problem with Washington's linguistics is that it is of strategic interest for Arab allies not to join any open-ended coalition against Iran in the Persian Gulf. What their people and officials admittedly favor is shared peace and prosperity with Iran, not the destructive course adopted by Trump, the military-industrial complex, many intelligence services, and clueless Pentagon generals like Dunford.

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