The latest attack against president Trump by Rouhani came one day after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei backed the idea of blocking all oil exports from the region by closing the Strait of Hormuz in the event of Iran’s exports being banned. He also said that "U.S. govt.'s words or even signatures cannot be relied on; thus negotiations with the U.S. are useless. The assumption that negotiations or establishing ties with the U.S. would solve country's problems is an obvious error."
In response to US escalations, Iran threatened to halt oil shipments through the strait if the U.S. stopped it from exporting, Esmail Kowsari, deputy commander of the Sarollah Revolutionary Guards base in Tehran. Such a move would likely provoke a conflict between Iran and the US, as the strait is the most important export waterway for most Arab oil.
Reza Marashi served in the Office of Iranian Affairs at the U.S. State Department and is currently research director at the National Iranian American Council. He is frequently consulted by Western governments on Iran-related matters. He took to Twitter on Friday to sound the alarm ahead of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's upcoming address called "Supporting Iranian Voices," set to be held Sunday at the Reagan Library, warning as a former longtime State Department insider that this is not about "rights" or "democracy promotion" but that the wheels of the Washington regime change machine are turning.
— Department of State (@StateDept) July 21, 2018
The Iranian regime is used to saber-rattling. This comes naturally to a regime that has sat at the negotiation table for more than three decades signing deals with other countries while failing to keep its promises – broken promises that have gone unpunished.
Unfortunately, the West, especially Europe, has ignored Iran's games. Whether this was intentional or biased or because Europe just did not understand the game is unknown.
Now, with the current status quo, Iran's saber-rattling is a front for its bewilderment in terms of which policy to follow to prolong its life.
Khamenei, Iran's so-called supreme leader, tweeted this yesterday: "The president's remarks in his recent trip to Europe stating, 'If Iran's oil export is blocked, no other country in region will export oil either,' is a crucial remark expressing Islamic Republic's approach. Foreign Ministry must sternly follow up on such stances by President."
Iran has less than four months before the U.S.'s "historical" sanctions come into play.
It seems that Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, is at a loss with regard to the path forward for the regime.
On July 20, in an interview with Euronews' Global Conversation, carried by Tasnim state-run News Agency, Zarif pleaded with Europe to do everything in its power to save the JCPOA and prevent the continuous exit of European companies from Iran.
"Donald Trump's plan is to weaken Iran to the extent of economic pressure leading to waves of protests. Unfortunately, no one in the world can counter the economic strength of the dollar," Arman, a state-run daily, wrote on July 19.
There have also been various reports of a shuffle in Iranian president Hassan Rouhani's Cabinet.
Rouhani's chief of staff, Mahmoud Vaezi, has also spoken of "new conditions" the regime is facing following the U.S.'s pullout of the Iran nuclear deal.
"We need cabinet members to handle our affairs while taking the current circumstances into consideration," he added in recent remarks.
Iran has two options going forward, since it does not have the power to play with various options: negotiating and accepting conditions that will have heavy repercussions or trying in vain to counter sanctions.
Iran cannot ignore the growing waves of protests inside the country. This is what it rightly fears most of all, and it will be the power of the people that will eventually bring the whole establishment to its demise.
It is significant that Presidents Putin and Trump have both spoken out against “haters” among America’s political establishment who would rather see conflict between Russia and the United States instead of a normalization of bilateral relations.
Significantly, the hostile reaction was overwhelmingly on the American side. Russians, by and large, welcomed the long-overdue summit between Trump and Putin, and the potential beginning of a new spirit of dialogue and partnership on a range of urgent global problems. Problems including arms control, nuclear proliferation, and working out political settlement to conflicts in the Middle East, Ukraine and the Korea Peninsula.