Iran and US: Could it end in war?

Concerns are growing that the situation in the Persian Gulf may spiral out of control. The US has sent war ships to the region and Tehran has begun preparations for increasing its uranium enrichment activities. US President Donald Trump and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have crossed swords on Twitter. Commentators analyse the battle lines and cast about for solutions.

Open/close all quotes
Cyprus Mail (CY) /

Critics could quickly become fierce patriots

Iran's military strength should not be underestimated, writes military historian Gwynne Dyer in the Cyprus Mail:

“Iran's army is about the same size as that of the United States, but it could quickly expand to ten times that size with volunteers, as it did during the US-backed Iraqi invasion of Iran in 1980-88. And Iran is as large as France. Would the Iranians volunteer in such numbers? Of course they would. Many Iranians don't like the current regime, but they are patriots. They are as unlikely to welcome a US invasion as American liberals would be to welcome a foreign invasion promising to liberate them from Donald Trump.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

Full focus on arch-enemy Iran

US President Donald Trump has opened a war on three fronts with Iran as the main common enemy, comments columnist Gerardo Morina in Corriere del Ticino:

“Since 2007 the US has accused Huawei employees of lying about the relationship between their company and the Iranian firm Skycom, which has apparently falsely claimed that it is not a Huawei subsidiary. ... So here too, the main problem is Iran, where Trump recently opened a second front and sent an aircraft carrier to the Gulf. In addition, Washington has called on Iran to discontinue all its nuclear and missile programmes, withdraw its armed forces from Syria, which is the third front, end its destabilising policy in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf and stop supporting armed groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and the Huthi - all as a prerequisite for a new nuclear deal.”

Delo (SI) /

Brussels will once again sit on its hands

The EU must do its best to prevent a war, Delo urges:

“The US and its allies are banging the war drum ever louder while the behaviour of Iran and its allies is becoming increasingly irrational. In view of Russia's active military role in the Middle East and the clinically dead UN, the EU must adopt the key diplomatic role, as it did with the Iranian nuclear agreement. That would allow the EU to put its disastrous dependence - as regards Middle East policy - on the US behind it once and for all. But because there is little time for EU standards and many European countries are among the most important arms exporters, sadly it is unlikely that Brussels will vehemently oppose an attack on Iran.”

Naftemporiki (GR) /

Calm voices are not being heard

Today's situation has a precedent, Naftemporiki recalls:

“The situation that is developing now is similar to the one in 2003 which led to the US and Britain intervening in Iraq under the pretext of having discovered nuclear weapons, which were never found. ... There is a very real danger of a new war in the Persian Gulf. And this is taking place in the midst of growing regional tensions, US intervention scenarios in Venezuela and an increasing military presence in the South China Sea. The drums of war are being beaten everywhere, and calm, diplomatic voices are being drowned out by the hawks who fantasise about rapid interventions that could have fatal consequences for everyone.”

Star (TR) /

Risky psychological warfare

The muscle-flexing between Trump and Rouhani could easily spiral out of control, warns the pro-government Star:

“Currently we are witnessing a policy of controlled tensions, maintained by threats, attempts at intimidation and battle cries... It is entirely possible that Trump and Rouhani will find ways to increase their room for manoeuvre in grey areas. ... But as soon as third parties enter into this tense atmosphere the outcome will be unpredictable. There is always the danger that the controlled tensions spiral out of control. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States have their share in this conflict that started over oil. At the same time we know that in this current phase Israel, which virulently hates Iran, and Israel's friends are very influential in the US administration.”

Novoye Vremya (UA) /

Preparations are well underway

A war in the Persian Gulf is becoming increasingly likely, journalist Ivan Jakovyna fears in Novoye Vremya:

“Today we received news from Iraq that the US embassy in Baghdad had been completely evacuated. Most American diplomats have already left the embassy; only a few crucial staff members remain. Apparently the Americans are preparing for the eventuality that the embassy will be the target of acts of reprisal once a military operation against Iran begins. The military preparations are well underway, so we can reckon with a war starting there in the autumn. Unless there is an unexpected turn of events.”

Cyprus Mail (CY) /

This is not what Trump wants

In the Cyprus Mail military historian Gwynne Dyer warns Trump of the consequences of an attack:

“If the United States does attack, nobody will help Iran, even though every other signatory to the no-nukes treaty that Trump trashed knows (and says) that Iran has complied with its terms. And the US would only bomb Iran, not invade it on the ground. But then it would spread: mines in the Strait of Hormuz, missile attacks on Israel by Hezbollah, maybe an uprising by the Shia minority in Saudi Arabia. Lots of death and destruction, and no possibility of a happy outcome. I really don't think this is what Donald Trump wants. Maybe somebody should tell him.”

Milliyet (TR) /

Washington just making empty threats

The US wants to intimidate Iran but it doesn't want to attack it, believes Milliyet:

“We are not in a phase of heated wars between states right now. A few months ago there were fears that a nuclear war could break out between North Korea and the US. And what happened? They made peace with each other. Then there's Trump's 'America first' slogan. The US president wants to reduce his international commitments and focus on domestic affairs instead. Concentrating his military forces in the Middle East again is therefore the last thing he wants now. This is why he is hitting Tehran with sanction after sanction and sending his war ships to Basra while at the same time openly saying 'Call me!'. ... It's clear that he's still just trying to force Tehran to its knees through economic and diplomatic attacks.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Negotiate a proper nuclear deal

Iran should yield and negotiate a comprehensive nuclear deal, The Daily Telegraph counsels:

“It should also be remembered that, when the Trump administration first withdrew from the JCPOA last year, it did so on the basis that it wanted to negotiate a new nuclear deal with Iran, one that covered all aspects of Iran’s attempts to acquire nuclear weapons, rather than focusing mainly on the issue of uranium enrichment. Accepting Washington’s offer to reopen negotiations, then, is the best way for Iran to get its economy back on track instead of provoking a fresh confrontation with the West, one it has no earthly chance of winning.”

Wiener Zeitung (AT) /

EU must block warmongers

Europe would do well to keep its distance from the hardliners in the White House, warns the Wiener Zeitung:

“Washington may see the crisis as a strategic opportunity, setting its hopes on regime change. While this is a desirable prospect for the people of Iran, the example of Iraq (and also Libya) shows that a regime change brought on by external players cannot be successful. For the EU, a war-like conflict on Europe's doorstep would be a catastrophe. So Europeans must form alliances against these plans, while at the same time exerting pressure on Tehran in order to block Washington's path to war with Iran.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

EU must form a coalition of the unwilling

The EU should not allow itself to be divided or resign to the seemingly inevitable, warns taz:

“It must, if it lands on deaf ears with Trump, play a mitigating role with Saudi-Arabia and Israel, for whom a war with Iran would be opportune. Berlin has a very good relationship with Tehran. This government should finally stop its strangely unambitious and vague foreign policy. That means going on the offensive in Tehran, mediating with Paris and London, trying to maintain trade relations (and thus influence) with Iran in spite of US blackmailing - and in Washington, driving home the high cost of war. Trump is clearly even crazier than Bush and has no interest in multipolarity. At the very least, the EU cannot allow itself to be divided. The EU must be a coalition of the unwilling. That would be something new.”

Dnevnik (SI) /

Playing with fire

The escalating conflict between the US and Iran could have terrible consequences, warns Dnevnik:

“Although a new war in the Middle East would be utterly irrational, we cannot totally rule out the threat of war. British Foreign Secretary Hunt, during an unexpected visit from his US counterpart Mike Pompeo in Brussels yesterday, quite rightly said that the US and Iran were in danger of triggering a war by accident. The sending of weapons and the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to the Persian Gulf, the still unresolved sabotage of Saudi tankers, the regions of Yemen and Syrian which are already engulfed in geopolitical conflicts, the occupied Palestinian territories and the Saudi-led failed attempt to subjugate Qatar could quickly ignite the situation.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Trump left Tehran with no choice

The Financial Times explains why Iran's course of action is understandable:

“It was the US president who last year unilaterally withdrew from an international accord that had taken years of difficult negotiations to seal. In one action, Mr Trump undermined the international order and put the Iran nuclear deal on life-support. ... Europe's efforts to keep open trade channels with the Islamic republic have proved dismally ineffective. As a result, Iran has no dividend to show for complying with an agreement that was based on an economic pay-off for limiting nuclear activities.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Europe must rescue the deal

Europe must follow up its clever words with deeds if it wants to save the nuclear deal, warns Handelsblatt:

“Does the EU really want to let Washington dictate its foreign policy? If the nuclear deal is 'indispensable for our national and joint European security', resolving this situation will require more than anaemic statements about our concern for the consequences of the US's unilateral policy. ... Iran must be stabilised economically and then engaged in negotiations on a security concept for the entire region. Otherwise the region will hurtle dangerously towards a new Gulf war. ... What is urgently needed is de-escalation and negotiations that create binding mutual dependencies. The EU needs to take a resolute and united stance on this.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

A lame deal from the outset

Iran's ultimatum to the EU is blackmail, in the opinion of De Telegraaf, which concludes:

“Europe only has itself to blame for this blackmail. Last year European leaders should have sided with the Americans when President Trump withdrew from this bad nuclear deal. Instead Europe tried to somehow save the lame deal, even though right from the start the inspectors were not rigorous enough and the deal was valid for a limited time only. The support for this deal gave the leadership in Tehran a false signal. ... Tough sanctions are the only way to curb the Iranian nuclear threat; giving in to blackmail is not.”

ABC (ES) /

The EU has been too naive

The EU should have been more wary in its dealings with Iran from the start, ABC concurs:

“The High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, is too naive when it comes to negotiating with dictatorships, especially those that openly act against the interests of the free world. ... The final doubts about Iran's willingness to renounce nuclear weapons were dispelled yesterday when it turned its response to Washington's decision to abandon the treaty into a direct threat aimed at the US and Europe.”

Večernji list (HR) /

One spark could start a war

The conflict between the US and Iran on the Persian Gulf could escalate any time, warns Večernji list:

“Although at the moment no one is expecting a large-scale war between Iran and the US observers fear that one little spark could be enough to ignite a war. Because both sides are gathering their armed forces in the Gulf region. The US has sent several B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf in response to an Iranian 'attack'. According to the Pentagon the deployment is a response to clear indications that Iranian armed forces and their supporters are planning an attack on US forces. ... The Iranians are aware of the US's superior military power in the region, which is why experts believe they would be likely to resort to guerilla tactics at sea.”