President Donald Trump has privately driven his representatives to go back to his tough talk about Iran – and repeat that the administration is not aiming at war with Tehran.
Two senior officials and three other individuals with direct knowledge of the administration's strategy in the region tell the Daily Beast that the president has asked officials to downplay their excited rhetoric on Iran despite the attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman that Washington has sign on Tehran. The president has previously said he is less hawkish on Iran than some of his advisers and this week, in a magazine interview Time said the tanker attacks were "much less".
In the last several days in public testimony and in closed door fairs, Trump administration officials have tried to calm down legislators on Capitol Hill who are cautious of administration avoiding the congress to launch a military confrontation with Tehran. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
There is a big change in the tone of the Trump administration. As recently as a few days ago, State Secretary Mike Pompeo said on CBS Face the Nation that everything was on the table when it came to Iran, including military action. And national security advisor John Bolton has been pushing internally for a confrontation with Tehran. "If you cross us, our allies, or our partners, you hurt our citizens, if you continue to lie, cheat and deceive, yes, there will really be hell to pay," says Bolton in New York last year.
However, State Department's Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook during a hearing in front of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Wednesday that "there is no talk of offensive action" in the administration of Iran.
"No one should be uncertain of our desire for peace or ours readiness to normalize relationships if we were to reach an overall deal, "Hook said." We have made a much brighter future on the table for the Iranian people, and we mean it. "He added that the administration is willing to negotiate with Iran, but only when "the time is right."
new story has confused lawmakers at Hill who in recent weeks have worried about the Trump administration seemed to be up Blown Iranian Intel and led the US down the road for a military confrontation with Tehran. Now, with the administration backing on that idea, legislators are asking again, what's the plan?
"I don't think they have a [end game]. And that's very important to me," Rep Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) says. "I don't think they have a clear strategy, and I really don't think that they have formulated what the goals are. It seems as if they were intending to inflate [nuclear deal] and withdraw from that agreement and now they are able to try to build a coalition with our allies to keep pressure on Iran and not violate an agreement we pulled away . It's kind of an absurdity. "
During the hearing, at which Cicilline participated, rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) pressed Hook on what he understood to be the administration's strategy for Iran ahead.
We get messages from various parts of the administration, Malinowski says. What I hear from you is very different [than what I hear from the president] "and added that the president's tweets seemed to focus on changing Iran's nuclear power contract.
" But what I hear from you is that our policy is to bank Iran until they meets … requirements that include basically canceling ties with all their proxies in the region. So what is it? "
Hook said the administration's strategy was twofold, with two primary goals.
" First, depriving the Iranian regime of the money needed to support its destabilizing activities. Second, to get Iran to the negotiating table, Hook said, adding that the strategy included getting "a new and better [nuclear] deal".
Legislators were anxious to clarify whether the administration believed that it could use the 2001
Hook refused to answer questions from legislators about the administration's position at AUMF regarding Iran but said: "We will do everything we have to do with respect for Congress's military forces and we will follow the law". Khanna (D-CA) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) announced on Monday that they are launching a resolution that would block the administration from war on Iran on the basis of the 2001 AUMF.
Hook's testimony comes amid increased tension between Washington and Tehran and reaches another peak last week when the United States claimed that Iran attacked two oil tankers in Omanholmen. The United States and Iran have been engaged in a tit-anticipated escalation over the past month, with the birth of Capitol Hill that the two countries are on a crash path that is likely to end in a direct military conflict.
Everything began in May when the United States sent B-52 bombers and tankers to the Gulf of Persia in a violence show against Tehran after the Trump administration claimed there were new "storms" that required deployment. For some time, the congress was in the dark of intelligence. Sources informed that the Trump administration blew the hot reports in proportion and said there was no sign of an imminent threat to US military forces in the region. Shortly afterwards, acting defense minister Patrick Shanahan considered the troop movements "deterred attacks" against US forces in the region.
This week, the Pentagon announced it sent another 1,000 troops to the Middle East to counter Iran's presence in the region.
Hook also met behind closed doors with the Senate Committee on Wednesday. He will lead the Middle East Wednesday night to meet regional allies, including Saudi Arabia, before the Bahrain conference, where the United States plans to reveal part of its peace plan.