Donald Trump has smaller and smaller options in Iran politics. Instead of a military strike, the White House takes additional pinpricks – a strategy with risks.
Donald Trump is at a crossroads in his Iran policy. The previous "maximum pressure campaign" does not show the desired effect. Tehran has announced plans to increase uranium production over the next few days, beyond the limit of the terminated nuclear contract. And after his very brief withdrawal of an already prepared military strike in retaliation for the launch of an American drone, the US president has a few options left.
Trump would still be able to order a military strike and thus an escalation of the crisis visible to everyone. But beyond the rhetoric, the White House focuses on less visible operations aimed at deterring Tehran from further attacks and increasing pressure for concessions.
In other words, the signs of Iran's crisis are shadow war.
Das First, it shows that Trump wants to continue the sanction campaign. Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and eight commanders are punished. Sanctions against Foreign Minister Jawad Sarif could follow within a few days. They are more symbolic.
More than 1
The new sanctions are part of a series of measures against Iranian leadership and the country's economy. The United States has issued more than 1,000 such sanctions since the nuclear agreement expired in May 2018. Sometimes it is tight sanctions that make life difficult for individual government representatives. Sometimes it is powerful sanctions with consequences for the whole country, which by April when measures were announced to empty the whole of Iran's oil exports – a step that ultimately exacerbates the economic situation.
There is a simple thought behind this: If you tighten the sanctioned thumb screw so that economic problems and price increases in Iran take dramatic proportions, Tehran's leadership has no choice but to engage in negotiations with the Americans. The US government could then impose a much stricter agreement than the nuclear trade negotiated by the Obama administration with Europe-China-Russia cooperation, which was dismissed a year ago by Trump.
The White House is dependent on the oil Factor
The problem: All sanctions, Iran's economic problems and an inflation rate of 50 percent have not yet made Tehran open for negotiations. On the contrary, the Iranian leadership has made it clear that they do not want to enter into talks with a Trump.
The White House does not want to give up the plan. Tehran's support is expected to rise, as sanctions against the oil shop announced at the end of April will come fully.
Following the sanctions against the oil sector, tankers attacked the first time in the Gulf of Oman and further the US Troops to the region.
So it was the sanctions that drove a spiral of escalation that also became tremendous for Trump. It planned the missile attack on Iranian positions, which should repay the launch of an American drone, whitled Trump on Friday night and decided instead of a cyber attack.
An Invisible Attack
The Americans attacked computers and networks the Iranian revolutionary guards blamed for the drone launch. A second attack was directed to computers used for missile launching. Such attacks will take place away from the public and the damage they do will not be experienced for a long time or can never be experienced.
The White House will continue to rely on such digital attacks in the future. The New York Times has reported that the White House has ordered that the business be carried out in a similar way. Both the army and the foreign intelligence service CIA were able to carry out the cyber attacks. Ironically, the times, such beaten, unrecognizable acts of the public are hardly different from the tactics of Iranian groups in the region.
It is not without risk either: Iran itself has a strong capacity in the area of the cyber war. In recent years, units have attacked US banks and communities, mixed on the Internet on the Russian model in the last election campaign. In turn, they could expand their business.
Hidden cyber attacks and the new symbolic sanctions against Iranian leadership are in line with Trump's reluctance to use American soldiers in the bay and take a military risk. To date, however, there is no evidence that they help Trump achieve its ultimate goal: to force the Iranians into the negotiating table.