• Eyal Pinko

The winds in the Persian Gulf heat up less than a month before the change of the US administration

Aggressive U.S. military moves in the Persian Gulf, faced with Iranian military exercises, along with Trump's warnings against the promise of his assassination voiced by Rouhani. All of these are promoting winds of war in the Persian Gulf, on the eve of administration change in the United States. Is Trump, who has cut short his annual vacation and returned unexpectedly to the White House today, likely to launch a military campaign against Iran before the end of his administration? Israel has been warned and prepared.

On January 3, 2020, a Quds Force commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Qasem Soleimani, was killed in Iraq by four missiles fired from a U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle. Soleimani was one of Iran's most prominent leaders and is considered the brain and engine behind Iran's actions at the international theatre.

Soleimani was responsible for arms and weapons transfers to various terrorist organizations (such as Hezbollah, Hamas, the Yemen Houthis, the Irish IRA, etc.), and was responsible for establishing and training combat forces (such as Shiite militias in Syria and Iraq). He was also responsible for the establishment of operational cells in various countries around the world and on the Iranian funding of drugs through collaborations with drug barons in South America.

His assassination hit Iran, which has repeatedly vowed to avenge Soleimani's death and assassinate U.S. officials, including President Trump. Iran has even threatened to sue Trump personally in the Hague National Court for war crimes.

But a few months later, the COVID-19 virus began to spread and hit Iran hard. Senior government officials have fallen victim of the virus, which spread and claimed many other victims in Iran (more than 55,000 people have died in Iran from COVID-19). Iran has entered severe economic distress and social problems, which have threatened to continue the regime following the virus's spread. The Iranian government has turned its attention to retaliatory actions and the establishment of military and terrorist nests in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa to address economic and domestic problems.

In recent months, as Iran began to recover and as the consequences of the U.S. election, a new wind began to blow from the Persian Gulf.

The Iranian government has identified Trump's successor, President-elect Joe Biden, as leading a change in the U.S. sanctions policy and likely to remove it, supporting that policy while serving as vice president during President Obama's administration.

Iran is trying these months to maintain "industrial" silence across the diplomatic chessboard and not to resort to aggressive actions and military moves (other than ostentatious training and exercises by Iranian military forces), such as those perceived by future U.S. government as irresponsible or unacceptable.

Iran has also warned its proxy organizations, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, not to launch a military campaign in the region. At the same time, on December 20, the United States Embassy in Baghdad was bombarded with a barrage of rockets made by Iran, launched by the Shiite militia.

But Trump is refusing to leave his seat peacefully, trying to lead moves that could ignite the entire Middle East region, sending threatening messages to Iran and even declaring several times in the media that he is considering launching a military campaign against Iran in the remaining days until the end of his rule.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy and Air Force have in recent weeks carried out extensive raids and operations in the Persian Gulf region (including strategic bombers flights, submarine with ballistic missiles launching capabilities, and battleships), sending a threatening message to Iran not to take operational revenge actions for the anniversary of Soleimani's assassination.

Against the background of the assessment of the Iranian threat, the American chief of staff met with the heads of the Israeli defense and security services, and it was even reported on December 25 that Israel was put on alert due to the possibility that the United States would act against Iran before Trump leaves power. Israel sent a submarine through the Suez Canal to stay in the Persian Gulf region, which includes sending a message and deterrence to Iran.

According to senior security officials in the United States, the Iranian military threat level reflected in intelligence assessments is one of the highest observed since Soleimani's assassination, and Iran, along with the Shiite militias in Iraq, plans to carry out a retaliatory attack against the U.S. forces in the Middle East (There are more than 3,000 US soldiers stationed in Iraq).

At the background of this intelligence assessment, reports were received today (31/12) that Trump had shortened his holiday in Florida and returned a day earlier than expected back to the White House.

At the same time, in this year's speech on the day of Soleimani's assassination, delivered today (31/12) by the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Rouhani posed a personal threat to the American president, assuring him that after the end of his term he would be assassinated by one of his henchmen.

It is estimated that Iran will not advance military moves or military action soon in retaliation for Soleimani's assassination, as Iran estimates that Joe Biden's administration will help advance its political, economic, and military goals by easing sanctions. In this situation, Iran's military move will cause it to lose its advantage over Biden. At the same time, Trump's aggressive moves in the recent weeks against Iran may lead to the start of a military campaign less than three weeks before he leaves the White House. If implemented, these moves would leave Biden in a complicated situation as soon as his administration begins.

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