Early last month, the US began deploying additional forces to the region, including an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers, Patriot missiles and 1,500 troops in response to “troubling indications and warnings” from Iran — this week, Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced an additional 1,000 US troops will be deployed.
Meanwhile, threats have been rife between the two feuding leaders with Mr Trump threatening via Twitter that a fight with the US would be “the official end of Iran”, while Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani told Mr Trump not to “play with the lion’s tail”.
Iran could “activate it’s network of proxies and partners” in the region from Yemen to Lebanon, Syria and Iraq to “go after US assets and those of America’s allies,” he said.
The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah’s warned the United States that if they strike Iran “the entire region will burn”, and “all US forces and interests in the region would be annihilated” — the US has already evacuated “non-emergency employees” from Iraq.
Meanwhile, US-ally Saudi Arabia encouraged Washington to cut Iran down to size, and while Riyadh has maintained that they would not be in favour of war, Foreign Affairs Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the kingdom “will defend itself, its citizens and its interests”.
Israel, who have advocated for strikes on Iran in the past, have so far kept a distance from the current stand off.
Mr Vaez says a US offer of sanctions relief in return for full compliance with the nuclear deal could defuse the situation, but the biggest risk is “miscalculation”.
“Tensions are running high across numerous flashpoints and there are no channels of communication between the two sides.”
Alternatively, the remaining parties to the nuclear deal — Europe, China and Russia — can provide Iran with an “economic lifeline” that could help it keep its economy afloat and justify remaining in the deal.”Donald Trump campaigned on drawing down from the Middle East, and Iran does not have the capability to counter the US in a large-scale conflict, Dr Bryce Wakefield, executive director of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, told the ABC.
Mr Wakefield said the possibility of US allies acting as a broker between Washington and Tehran has been hampered by Mr Trump’s policy “predicated on ratcheting up tension” in the Middle East.
“The Iranian regime, meanwhile, won’t back down amid American demands to dismantle its missile program or end its support for insurgencies elsewhere in the Middle East.”
However, Mr Wakefield added that he believes the situation has a long way to go before open conflict breaks out.