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Has Washington Really Revived the Military Option Against Iran?

It was remarkable that the White House envoy to Iran, Robert Malley, spoke last week to the American magazine Foreign Policy and announced what could be interpreted as the revival of a military option against Iran in the event that nuclear negotiations fail. In his interview, Malley said that if none of the diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb succeed, US President Joe Biden will agree as a last resort to a military option. Malley added that “we’re not there yet.” This position is new, and it comes in the wake of the growing pace at which Washington is holding joint military exercises with allies in the Middle East, especially Israel. It became clear how serious the situation is when the American and Israeli militaries distributed video footage of a squadron of fighter jets from the two countries as they flew over the region in a joint maneuver. The footage shows advanced F-35 and F-15 jets, accompanied by a Boeing aircraft designated for refueling This means that the maneuvers are taking place in the context of preparing for long-range missions. It’s worth remembering that, about a month ago, the American and Israeli militaries distributed video footage of an Israeli escort of two American B-52 bombers that flew back and forth from one of the American bases near the Mediterranean Sea toward the Persian Gulf region. This coincided with news reports about an Iranian attempt to attack Saudi Arabia. Notably, a large part of the disagreements between Washington and Tel Aviv during the Biden presidency have centered around Israel’s claim that the US has abandoned a “credible military option” despite Tehran’s continued violation of the commitments stipulated in the nuclear agreement. Israeli officials protested the Biden administration’s refusal to revive the military option, claiming that this gives tailwinds to the mullahs in Teheran. Iran’s delivery of Shahed-136 explosive drones to Russia for use in its war on Ukraine, is an indication that the mullahs intend to go far in expanding Iran’s sphere of power, taking advantage of the war in Ukraine in order to win over Moscow’s support on the nuclear negotiations. In any case, there are no indications that President Biden is inclined to use force against Iran, as the matter is more complicated than making simple remarks in an interview. However, the latter’s dash toward a nuclear bomb has become a serious matter that worries the West, Israel and their Arab allies in the Middle East. Hence, the US administration is determined to show Iran that it will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear bomb at any cost. – Ali Hamada (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)