Could US-Iran relations erupt into a military conflict?

How much we should be worried about the continuing escalation between the US and Iran? Do you see any indications that the current situation might lead to some military action (from any side), or you perhaps see this less dramatically? Read few comments.

Amin Saikal, Professor of Political Science, Director of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies, Australian National University, Author of Iran Rising : The Survival and Future of the Islamic Republic

Although both the US and Iran have said that they do not want a war, certain hawks in the Trump administration, especially the National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, backed by Israel and Saudi Arabia, are edging the US towards a military showdown with Iran. These elements may have concluded that the unprecedented harsh US sanctions are unlikely to bring about either regime change in Iran or make the Iranian Islamic regime to succumb to America’s wishes. They have claimed that the reason for significantly beefing up American forces in the Gulf is in response to threatening Iranian military activities. But this claim does not carry much credibility because the Iranian Islamic regime is under so much domestic and foreign policy pressure that it would not find it in its interest to ignite a military confrontation with the United Stares.

The fear is that the US may create a Gulf of Tonkin incidence in order to draw Iran into a conflict. In the event of such a conflict materialising, it would be devastating for not only Iran, but the whole region. Iran does not have the same firepower as the US or, for that matter Israel or even Saudi Arabia. But it has sufficient hard power, which includes advanced missiles, and soft-hard power, underpinned by a regional network of allied groups in a strategic crescent stretching from Afghanistan to Lebanon, to cause uncontrollable havoc in the region. While this does not stop the American hawks from saber rattling, but may caution them against plunging the US in another protracted and costly war in the Middle East similar to the Afghan and Iraqi wars.

Gabriel Ben-Dor, Professor, Head of the National Security Studies Program, University of Haifa

I do not think the present situation will lead to any military action.  I think we are witnessing maneuvering and threats, all parts of a diplomatic game of chess.

The US tries to deter Iran from encouraging further terrorist actions from the Gaza Strip, and also to force Iran to reduce its support for militant groups across the Middle East in general.  The Iranians are trying to show that they are able to cope with US sanctions, and they are also signaling that further oil embargo steps might lead to serious shortages around the world.

However, the military part of it all is not central.  What really counts is the combination of diplomatic and economic measures.  Both sides keep making demonstrative steps to illustrate their resolve and power.   The ultimate outcome might be a new agreement, or accommodation, between the two.  Also, both are trying to enlist more support  from their allies and coalition partners.

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