The Iranian Regime is Trying to Wait Out Trump

Guest post by Todd Winter

American sanctions are increasing on the Iranian regime, as the Trump administration attempts to reimpose costs on the Mullahs for their malign behavior in supporting terror around the world and continuing efforts to develop a nuclear weapon. In a recent discussion in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Turkish Heritage Organization, panelist Retired General Daniel Christman, former Superintendant of West Point, and combat commander in Vietnam, proffered that the Trump administration has obviously decided to push for regime change in Tehran.

“Iran already has the money from the Iran Deal, or the JCPOA; all it has to do is wait out the president. It believes it can pursue its path of support for terror, ballistic missile development, and nuclear weapons, with support from the European Union, Russia, China and others. Iran saw far worse conditions during the Iran-Iraq War; they know Trump is not there forever. They believe they can get through this. The danger for them, and for the United States, is an inadvertant, military incident in the Persian Gulf.”

Dov Zakheim, a defense strategy expert, offered the idea that even Congress is not on board with the president when it comes to Iran, Saudi, and even relations with Turkey. He stated that Turkish-American relations are bad but Ankara does desire a good relationship with the United States. Even in the face of the current Russia bromance between Turkish President Erdogan and Russia President Vladimir Putin, and the sale of the Russian S-400 air defense system to the Turkish military, Zakheim believes the historical Russian threat to Turkey, reminiscent of the Crimean War, is much more of a factor in the relationship. Zakheim believes we will both try to develop common interest in the region.

Christman seconded these comments, but added that Iran is the biggest issue in the region, and a reason for the U.S. to keep troops in the Middle East. Both men believe that Turkey will eventually get the F-35 fighter from Washington, in some kind of deal between the Ergogan and Trump adminstrations that will also settle the issue of the YPG military units on the Turkish, Syrian border.

Zakheim added the United States needs Syria to stay together, and that is the best way to restrain the YPG against Turkish interests. A broken Syria would lead to problems for Jordan, Israel, Iraq, and Turkey in the long run.

Turkish retired General Naim Baburoglu joined the conversation via video link from Istanbul and outlined several challenges to Turkish American relations. These included U.S. support for the YPG, which Turkey sees as a terrorist organization, the allocation of natural resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, and U.S. support from the Greek/Cypriot claims on gas operations in the Med. He added that as a result of these issues, 2019 may be another strained year between the NATO allies, and it would be good to resolve these issues before it is too late. He believes the Kurdish YPG issue is the most significant, and if it can be solved, solutions to the other issues will fall in place.

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