Iran is preparing for a great struggle against the United States this summer. It entails working with Russia and China to end an arms embargo; cooperating with Turkey to subvert US sanctions; and providing weapons technology to its allies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
This is Iran’s own version of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign. It kicked off more pressure last month and looks set to continue it into July.
This involves discussions with the Taliban and Qatar about Afghanistan, where US troops are based; trying to get allies in Iraq to harass US troops; and encouraging recent rocket fire by Hamas and the Houthis and protests against the US in Syria.
How does Iran exert maximum pressure against the Americans? It plays the Middle East like a piano, keying in various partners and allies when necessary. For instance, Iranian allies in Iraq this week humiliated the prime minister in Baghdad by burning his image, and they are pushing to get the US to leave.
Kataib Hezbollah, a member of the Iraqi security forces and a pro-Iran militia, has said it will not lay down its weapons, mocking the US for trying to get its members detained.
Then Iran brings out Hadi al-Ameri, who heads the Badr organization and the second-largest party in Iraq’s parliament and is a former fighter alongside the Iranian IRGC in the 1980s. This week he said US jets are violating Iraqi airspace and that US forces must be expelled.
Iran also supplies the Houthi rebels in Yemen with missile and drone technology. On June 23, the Houthis fired drones and missiles at Saudi Arabia in an attack aimed deep inside the country. Tehran celebrated the move and appears to have been behind it. The UN and the US have both accused Iran of involvement in previous attacks and of smuggling weapons to Yemen.
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