Iran fears plot by U.S. and its Gulf al­lies as pres­sure grows

Austin American-Statesman - - NATION & WORLD - By Jon Gam­brell

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMI­RATES — On the same day Arab separatists killed at least 25 peo­ple in an at­tack tar­get­ing a mil­i­tary pa­rade in south­west­ern Iran, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s lawyer mounted a stage in New York to de­clare that the gov­ern­ment would be top­pled.

“I don’t know when we’re go­ing to over­throw them. It could be in a few days, months or a cou­ple of years, but it’s go­ing to hap­pen,” for­mer New York Mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani said Sat­ur­day. “They are go­ing to be over­thrown. The peo­ple of Iran ob­vi­ously have had enough.”

For Iran’s Shi­ite theoc­racy, com­ments like th­ese only fuel fears that Amer­ica and its Gulf Arab al­lies are plot­ting to tear the Is­lamic Repub­lic apart.

Those threats so far haven’t led to a mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion or vi­o­lence, but the risk is ris­ing.

“Un­doubt­edly the Is­lamic Repub­lic of Iran will not ig­nore this crime. It is ab­so­lutely clear for us who did that, what group they are and with whom they are af­fil­i­ated,” Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani warned be­fore leav­ing for New York for the United Na­tions Gen­eral As­sem­bly. “All of those small mer­ce­nary coun­tries that we see in this re­gion are backed by Amer­ica. It is Amer­i­cans who in­sti­gate them and pro­vide them with nec­es­sary means to com­mit th­ese crimes.”

Rouhani is a rel­a­tive mod­er­ate who was elected twice on prom­ises to im­prove re­la­tions with West, and who signed the 2015 nu­clear agree­ment. At the U.N. Gen­eral As­sem­bly that year, he de­clared that “a new chap­ter had started in Iran’s re­la­tions with the world.”

“For the first time, two sides rather than ne­go­ti­at­ing peace af­ter war, en­gaged in di­a­logue and un­der­stand­ing be­fore the erup­tion of con­flict.”

An erup­tion now seems more likely. What changed in the mean­time seems to be the pol­i­tics of the re­gion and the U.S. While Amer­ica’s Sunni Gulf Arab al­lies in the re­gion crit­i­cized the nu­clear deal, many later ac­knowl­edged that it did what it was de­signed to do.

Iran lim­ited its en­rich­ment of ura­nium, mak­ing it vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble for it to quickly de­velop nu­clear weapons, some­thing the gov­ern­ment in­sists it has never sought. In ex­change, some in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions were lifted, al­low­ing Iran to re­join the global fi­nan­cial sys­tem and sell its crude oil to Amer­i­can al­lies.

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