Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the Middle East to shore up support to put the economic screws to Iran. It’s not a tough sell. Here are five reasons why:
- The nuclear agreement with Iran and world powers allowed billions of dollars to pour into the hands of regime officials. Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf States – already mortal enemies of Iran – watched from the sidelines with horror.
- With this money, the world saw an increase in “military adventurism” on the part of Iran, which already holds the dubious distinction of being the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Iran’s quest to create a “Shiite crescent” from Iran to Lebanon was starting to look like a fait accompli until Trump turned off Iran’s money faucets by pulling out of the nuclear deal. In addition, Russia allowed Israel to bomb Iranian bases in Syria.
- An Iranian diplomat posted in Vienna was recently arrested in Germany along with a man and a woman of Iranian decent in Belgium with explosives in their car. The three were suspected of planning a bombing attack on an enormous gathering of Iranian opposition activists in France. Pompeo reportedly focused on this incident in his talks with the U.S.’ political allies in the Middle East. His presumed strategy is to present a united front to the Europeans who still insist on doing business with Iran.
- If the U.S. succeeds in disrupting Iranian oil exports, Iran threatened to shut down Middle East oil supplies by cutting off the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf. The U.S. made it clear it will not let that happen.
- Trump already got Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait to agree to increase their oil production to starve out Iran (even though it will mean lowering their oil prices).
Pompeo’s next stop is Europe where he is accompanying President Trump at a NATO summit. Although getting the Europeans on board to stop doing business with Iran will be a harder sell, the threat of sanctions by the U.S. has already “won over” 10 of the largest European and Asian companies, which announced last month they were pulling out of Iran.