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Trump’s Iran threat raises eyebrows — and questions

Behnam Ben Taleblu
23rd July 2018 - Quoted by Rebecca Kheel, Ellen Mitchell - The Hill

President Trump's apparent threat of military action against Iran has left members of the foreign policy establishment looking for clues as to whether it signals a change in the U.S. approach toward Tehran.


Behnam Ben Taleblu, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, argued that Trump’s tweet was not necessarily a military threat, but could also refer to the threat of harsh economic sanctions. He said it could also simply be political posturing.

“I am all for more creatively using the bully pulpit against U.S. adversaries,” Taleblu said while en route back to D.C. from Pompeo’s California speech. “The tweet was a vague threat. Whether we want to read the politics or the military angle or the economic angle into it, I think it was vague by design. It puts the ball back in your adversary’s court and makes them keep guessing.”

Taleblu also stressed that Trump was responding to Rouhani, not the other way around. He said he expects the rhetorical tit-for-tat to continue as the November deadline on sanctions reimposition approaches.

“You would also, I think, likely see Iran try to find creative ways to stay within the deal but look for other areas with which they can escalate,” he said. “The Iranians don’t want to lose the Europeans, at least not yet, so they’re going to look for areas outside of the deal to escalate. The region may be one, ballistic missiles may be one, rhetoric may be one, inside the country may be one, cyber may be another. These are all areas that I’m sure U.S. officials are looking at actively and hopefully red-taping to offset what Iran may be looking to do.”


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