Why did Khamenei resort to escalation?

Iran’s Supreme Leader said that he ordered Iranian scientists to resume uranium enrichment after the US withdrew from the nuclear agreement.

Meanwhile, the Europeans failed to persuade Iran to go on with the agreement. The decision to boost uranium enrichment will enable the Iranians to manufacture the nuclear bomb.

This will push the rest of the region’s countries, mainly Saudi Arabia to work to acquire nuclear weapons as a deterrent to the mullahs’ state which seeks to occupy the two Holy Mosques as it’s known; i.e. this means entering a phase of a nuclear arms race to deter Iranian ambitions.

Retaliating 10 times harder

Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons is not only rejected by the US, but by all European countries as well as Russia and China. Discouraging Iran from pursuing this dangerous direction must thus be the responsibility of these countries.

If Iran insists on its position, it is possible to target it with an airstrike that may destroy its nuclear reactors.

The Supreme Leader addressed this when he said that those who attack Iran will be attacked 10 times harder. The question remains: Can Khamenei fulfill his promise? Does he have the needed weapons and military technology? The answer is certainly no.

Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons is not only rejected by the US, but by European countries as well as Russia and China. Discouraging Iran from pursuing it must thus be the responsibility of these countries

Mohammed Al Shaikh

Iran has nothing but ballistic missiles whose technology is imported from North Korea. These missiles are primitive and their capability to hit the target is weak. Anti-missiles can easily destroy them.

For example, the Houthis fired more than 120 missiles towards different cities in Saudi Arabia and they were all destroyed in the air before reaching their targets.

The US and Israel have highly destructive guided missiles so it’s actually possible to target these reactors destroying them into tatters. The question imposed in this context is: Are Iran’s mullah not aware of this?

Definitely not, but they got used to pushing things towards the abyss during political conflicts and then backing down in the last minute.

Paralyzed economy

The economic sanctions which will be imposed on Iran by the US will lead to economic recession in Iran. The Iranian economy will thus be affected and be almost completely paralyzed. The Iranians will thus revolt against the mullahs’ state.

Therefore, escalating with the US and Western countries will make the Iranian people line up behind the government to confront the invasion. This will provide the government with the capability to resist and confront sanctions.

I think this is one of the reasons that made Khamenei escalate the confrontation. It is as if he is speeding up the US strike which would enable him to stay for a longer period. However, if he submits to pressure and complies, he will face a massive famine revolution which he will not be capable of suppressing no matter how much he kills people and governs with an iron fist.

Will Khamenei’s old “new” approach succeed this time? Frankly I think it’s unlikely.

This article is also available in Arabic.

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Mohammed Al Shaikh is a Saudi writer with al-Jazirah newspaper. He tweets @alshaikhmhmd.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:51 - GMT 06:51
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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