‘Thousands could die’: Are US and Iran headed for war?

Sunday, May 12, 2019
By Paul Martin

As Tehran-Washington tensions flare, analysts say direct conflict would be ‘catastrophic’ for entire region

By Ali Harb
10 May 2019

When US National Security Adviser John Bolton announced last week that Washington was deploying a naval strike group to the Gulf to send a “clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime”, many likened the situation to the lead-up to the Iraq war.

Still, a military confrontation between Washington and Tehran would be nothing like the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, when American troops reached Baghdad in less than a month, analysts told Middle East Eye this week.

Instead, an all-out US war with Iran would have “hideous” ramifications and may spark deadly battles across the Middle East.

“In one word, it would be catastrophic,” said Imad Harb, director of research and analysis at Arab Center Washington DC.

This week, US President Donald Trump reimposed a series of strict sanctions on Tehran and did not rule out a direct military confrontation between the two countries.

That came after US officials warned about the possibility of Iranian attacks on US forces and commercial ships.

For its part, Iran announced plans to pull out of parts of the 2015 nuclear deal that Washington abandoned last year, and called on European leaders to protect it against United States sanctions.

This latest round of tensions has led some observers to wonder whether some US officials, especially the interventionist hawks in the Trump administration, may be maneuvering towards all-out war with Iran.

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