Zarif’s ‘B-Team’ reference aimed to expose divide in Trump admin: analyst

May 4, 2019

TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made a well-calculated “B-Team” reference to expose the divide within the Trump administration in regard to Iran, a senior analyst said on Saturday.

Speaking with IRNA, Ali Vaez, director of the Iran Project at the International Crisis Group, said the “calculated tactic” by the Iranian foreign minister displayed a deep gap between U.S. President Donald Trump and his national security team and regional allies, who are pushing for regime change in Iran.

Vaez said Trump is not willing to get involved in another conflict in the Middle East, therefore Zarif’s revelation on the intentions of the U.S. president’s advisors and allies was an effort to make Trump aware of the issue.

“By exposing the intentions of Trump’s advisers and allies, Zarif intended to put the president on notice,” he remarked.

Vaez did not rule out an unwanted escalation between Tehran and Washington, particularly when there is much friction between Iran, on one side, and the U.S. and its allies in the region, on the other.

“The [U.S.] president probably believes that at the end of the day, he would not fall into anyone’s trap,” he said, warning, “There is plenty of precedent in U.S. history when clueless presidents have been easily manipulated by much more experienced executives.”

Moreover, the analyst continued, there is so much friction between Iran and the U.S. and their respective allies in the region that a clash could happen even unintentionally.

In his recent interviews, Zarif has also voiced Iran’s preparedness to swap prisoners with the United States.

Vaez described the move as another direct message to Trump and an “appealing offer” for him who is seeking to take credit for bringing the American forces back home.

He also argued that it was too late for talks as the presidential elections in the U.S. approach.

“I’m afraid it might be too late for opening such talks as in the run up to the 2020 U.S. presidential elections, Trump is likely to be more risk averse in engaging in controversial dealings with U.S. adversaries,” he concluded.

MH/PA

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