Trump likely to wage limited war with Iran to boost reelection chances: ex-ambassador

September 16, 2020 - 0:45

TEHRAN – While U.S. media outlets and officials accuse Iran of hatching a plot to kill the American ambassador to South Africa, a former ambassador tells the Tehran Times that the Trump administration is likely to wage a “limited war” to boost Donald Trump’s reelection chances.

After a short period of diplomatic quietness between Tehran and Washington, high-ranking U.S. officials including Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo resumed the policy of threatening Iran this time over allegations that Iran is weighing a plan to avenge the assassination of IRGC’s Quds Force commander General Qassem Soleimani by killing U.S. ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks.

The plot was first reported by Politico. Citing unknown U.S. government officials, the American publication accused the Iranian government of weighing an assassination attempt against the American ambassador to South Africa.

Iran firmly rebuffed the claim, calling the Politico report “custom-made, ill-intentioned, and purposeful.”

“We advise the United States’ officials to stop resorting to repeated and decayed methods to create an anti-Iran atmosphere on the international arena,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that Politico tried to make its report look real by quoting an “apparent” American official.
 
The spokesman also said, “This kind of unfounded and baseless remarks is part of the Trump administration’s disinformation campaign against Iran.”

According to Khatibzadeh, it was predictable that the U.S. administration would resort to lying and leveling accusations against Iran ahead of U.S. presidential election simultaneously with its efforts to misuse the UN Security Council mechanisms in order to increase pressure on the Iranian people.
 
“This type of measures and headline-making, which is likely to continue in the future, will absolutely yield no results and will be added to the long list of U.S. failures against Iran,” Khatibzadeh asserted. He also accused Politico of selling the Trump administration’s “folly.”

“U.S. warmongers have always used gullible ‘journalists’ to sell their folly. Under Bush, they used them to sell the $7 trillion Iraq War. Now they are at it again, using Politico to peddle lies. U.S. media needs to be vigilant so as not to be used by politicians,” tweeted Khatibzadeh on Tuesday.

Despite Iran’s strong denial, the U.S. chose to escalate tensions with Iran. In a tweet on Tuesday, Trump threatened to attack Iran.

Referring to press reports about Iran’s alleged plot to retaliate for the assassination of General Soleimani, Trump Tweeted, “Any attack by Iran, in any form, against the United States will be met with an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!”

The U.S. allegation caught South Africa by surprise. Lunga Ngqengelele, the spokesman for South Africa’s Foreign Ministry, has said that his country was not aware of the alleged plot until Wednesday morning.

“We only became aware of this report this morning,” he told Bloomberg.

In addition to Ngqengelele, the Politico report and Trump's subsequent threats against Iran have taken many analysts and commentators by surprise as it is not in Iran’s interests to violate diplomatic norms. Diplomats said the Trump administration may have cooked up an intelligence story to escalate tensions with Iran ahead of the November 3 presidential elections to overshadow Trump’s failures and thus boost his reelection chances. Some diplomats even said that Trump may be looking for a “limited war” with Iran to create a rally-round-the-flag moment to save his troubled campaign. Trump has said on many occasions that he was a “wartime president” as he led the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic, creating suspicions that he could be opened to lying the American people into another costly war.

“Evidence suggests that the Trump administration is likely to wage a limited war with Iran to boost Donald Trump reelection chances. And Iran is aware of this scheme and it held the Zolfaqar-99 military exercises to dissuade the Americans from pursuing ill-intentioned plots against Iran ahead of U.S. presidential election,” Seyed Jalal Sadatian, Iran’s former ambassador to the UK, told the Tehran Times.

Sadatian said Trump took many measures to boost his reelection chances since he sensed that he could lose the November election.

“Trump did his utmost to put maximum pressure on Iran. His efforts inflicted economic pain on ordinary Iranians but failed to bring Iran to its knees.  Trump made efforts to force Iran into signing a new deal with the U.S. or at least force its leaders into giving Trump a photo op, but his efforts hit a dead end. He tried to get the UN Security Council to indefinitely extend the UN arms embargo on Iran, but his efforts got nowhere. He also tried to trigger the snapback process but, again, failed. Thirteen of the 15-member UN Security Council rejected the U.S. notification. These all were diplomatic failures. Trump then announced the normalization deals between some Arab countries and Israel to show that he made breakthroughs.” Said the former ambassador, noting that Trump made all these efforts to portray himself as a successful president.

According to Sadatian, Trump is also making efforts inside America to win the election at all costs.

“Trump is preparing to renege on the election results in case he didn’t win. He said the election would be rigged and he also said that he could impose curfews on some states if he loses the elections. All these issues show that he wants to win the elections at any cost,” Sadatian pointed out.

Commentators and analysts have long warned that Trump could wage a limited war with Iran to win the election. However, Iranian diplomats and officials have made it crystal clear that any war with Iran would not be limited in time and in scope. Iran has also said that the U.S. could start a war, but it would not be the one who ends it.

In an interview with “Face the Nation” in September 2019, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif echoed the same warning.

“No. No, I'm not confident that we can avoid a war. We- I'm confident that we will not start one but I'm confident that whoever starts one will not be the one who finishes it,” He said. “That means that there won't be a limited war.”

Government Spokesman Ali Rabiei warned on Wednesday that Iran will respond to “any strategic mistake” by the U.S., hours after Trump threatened to attack Iran.

Sadatian said any military confrontation with Iran will not be limited and could include the region in its entirety.

“Israel can’t confront Iran alone. So, the Americans strengthened their bases in the region to besiege Iran in a way that it would not be able to respond to any aggression. But they will fail because Iran has a strategic depth in the region and the U.S. can’t undermine this strategic depth. So if they attack Iran, they will be bogged down in the region. Any attack against Iran could pave the way for the U.S. to be mired in the region,” the former ambassador warned.

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