by Azita Carlson
At the weekend, Iran flew an unmanned aerial vehicle into Israel. Not only was this a test for Israel, it has also been seen as a way of gauging the Trump administration’s intentions.
During former President Barack Obama’s time in office, the United States abandoned active military deterrent.
Obama let Iran get back a highly classified UAV when he should have sent a missile to destroy it. He also put great effort into ensuring that Israel did not strike Iran’s nuclear facilities and gave Iran numerous concessions during the negotiations for the nuclear deal.
However, the biggest failure of the Obama administration was its failure to act in Syria. It did not even enforce its own red line with regards to chemical weapons and excuses were made about the no-fly zone being too dangerous to actually enforce. Now, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have died.
During the weekend, around half of all Syria air defences were wiped out by the Israeli Air Force.
While Obama was in office, the Iranian regime took advantage of the US weakness.
It ramped up its quest for regional dominance and it used the billions of dollars that were freed up from the Iran nuclear deal to spread terror across the region.
The situation changed when President Donald Trump took office. Even before taking office, Trump made it very clear that he would not be continuing with Obama’s policies of appeasement. He threatened to scrap the nuclear deal and he criticised Iran’s belligerence. He also declared that he was on the side of the Iranian people after the protests and anti-government demonstrations that lasted several weeks starting from the end of December last year.
Trump has also imposed sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and has spoken out against the Iranian regime at the United Nations. Yet, contradicting all this is the nuclear deal that remains intact.
Furthermore, looking past all the tough rhetoric and sanctions and threats of scrapping the nuclear deal, Trump has actually done very little to hamper Iran’s regional expansionism.
Iran is still able to smuggle weapons and missiles across the region.
It has launched missiles into Saudi Arabia from Yemen and it is constructing new facilities in Lebanon and Syria to produce missiles.
Trump ought to bring back a military deterrent to Iran’s expansionism and it should be done in conjunction with allies across the Middle East. The IRGC’s bases in Syria should be targeted with the aim of keeping a larger conflict at bay.
Iran cannot face military powers that are superior to its own. On top of this, the domestic situation in Iran is explosive. Protests about the economic situation in Iran recently turned into calls for regime change.
The mullahs are aware that the people want Iran to pull out of Syria, so if even more resources are directed there, it will guarantee that the domestic situation will degrade even further.
If the US thinks it can get by without a military deterrent, it is basically handing Iran regional hegemony on a plate.