And if that happens there is a real possibility that the United States would directly be involved in the war and not just watch from the sidelines.
Soon after President Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran on Tuesday, there were new tensions between Iran and Israel. Israel put its troops on “high alert,” anticipating strikes by Iran on Israeli targets in Syria.
On Thursday, Israeli officials blamed Iran for an unsuccessful rocket attack on Israeli forces in the Golan Heights. Then Israeli jets struck back at Iranian forces in Syria, bombing dozens of targets. The strikes hit “nearly all” of Iran’s military infrastructure in Syria.
The rapid acceleration of violence between Iran and Israel is almost certainly a result of Trump’s decision. “While Israel and Iran have been conducting a shadow war in Syria for months under the cover of the civil war there,” the New York Times wrote, “the conflict has now burst into the open.” And from here things may get worse quickly.
The existence of the Iran deal prevented escalating violence in Syria between the two countries. It wasn’t until after Trump’s announcement that Iran directly struck back against Israel.
Middle East expert Ian Bremmer told Vanity Fair that until the U.S. left the deal “the Iranians had not responded, and I am sure a part of the reason for that is that they didn’t want to give the Americans any reason to leave the deal. Now that they have done so, I assume that the gloves are off for the Iranians, and it makes mutual military escalation between the Israelis and the Iranians much more likely.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that his country would renew its nuclear program if there are new American sanctions. “We have put a number of options for ourselves, and those options are ready including options that would involve resuming at a much greater speed our nuclear activities,” Zarif told Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
If Iran can’t keep the nuclear deal with European nations, it may see restarting its nuclear program as its best option. If that happens, “you get a nuclear race in the Middle East,” said James Dorsey, a Middle East specialist to the Atlantic.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will intervene in Iran directly, launching air strikes to eliminate Iran’s nuclear facilities. And he wants U.S. help in doing this.
Retired U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark wrote for CNBC, “Israel has several times sought U.S. help, or at least U.S. support and backup in striking Iran’s nuclear program. Under the Obama Administration, the answer was, No. Under President Trump, and with the emerging condominium of interests between the Saudi’s and the Israeli’s, the possibility of war between Israel and Iran is rising.”
“President Trump’s actions in quitting the Iran accord would place a large share of the responsibility on the United States, increasing the likelihood that the U.S. would, in fact, support and reinforce Israel,” Clark wrote.
In other words, Trump may decide he has to get involved in a war with Iran. Based on his blustery rhetoric, he’s not the type who will stay out of a fight.
So the direct result of Trump’s action could be a new war in the Middle East. If that happens it will probably lead to American intervention with possibly cataclysmic consequences.
The editors of the Washington Post put it this way: “The Saudis and Israelis may hope that Mr. Trump’s decision will draw the United States back into the Middle East through a confrontation with their enemy. The president has frequently said that he has no wish for further Mideast wars; his decision has made one more likely.”