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US PRESIDENT Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi attend the annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service, on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 15..(Photo by: REUTERS/CARLOS BARRIA)
with new measures being taken by the Gulf states toward the development, security and strengthening of the nation state, the isolation of Iran has become ever stronger.
Okaz, Saudi Arabia, June 22

Perhaps the best scenario that the world can wish for is this: the internal pressure on the Iranian regime increases, widespread protests erupt throughout the country, a popular resistance movement emerges, and the mullah regime finally collapses. Then a new Iranian leadership, led by moderate seculars, assumes power, drafts a new constitution, and rids the country of its theocratic ideology.
But this scenario is way too hopeful. The current Iranian regime, after 40 years of military and security buildup, will not allow such a scenario to unfold. If it feels threatened, it will go down in extreme chaos, repression and bloodshed at home.
A look back at Mike Pompeo’s speech last year, shortly after he was appointed secretary of state, would suffice to show that US policy toward Tehran is no longer just that of a change in behavior. The issue, in America’s eyes, lies with the system itself: “The regime that emerged in the 1979 Iranian Revolution will not last much longer,” Pompeo said in his speech. The Iranian street has known several attempts to protest against the regime. The Green Revolution of 2009 brought thousands of Iranians to the streets, where they were met with violence, repression and firepower. It is not unlikely that similar protests will once again erupt, this time with the support of the international community and Iranian diaspora communities. The strength of the Iranian opposition has certainly grown over the past few years.
The regime, in turn, will do everything in its power to deflect attention away from its own misdoings by wreaking further havoc in the Middle East. It will increase its attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf and threaten to close the Strait of Hormuz. It will also continue to drag the region into a war that everyone seeks to avoid.
Today, however, with new measures being taken by the Gulf states toward the development, security and strengthening of the nation state, the isolation of Iran has become ever stronger. The Iranian regime has no goals or projects related to the development of Iranian society or the Iranian economy. It is focused solely on its political agenda.
The free world is finally beginning to recognize that security and stability in the region cannot be achieved, so long as the mullah regime continues to exist. It may have lasted for 40 years, but the Iranian regime is finally coming under existential pressure. As Pompeo put it, this regime will not last much longer. – Yahya al-Amir

Al-Mada, Iraq, June 21
Last week, the US special envoy on Iran, Brian Hook, presented to members of Congress his report on the increasing role of popular mobilization militias operating in Iraq.
These groups, which take orders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani, have been able to impose their presence in Iraq’s political scene and compete with the state’s regular armed forces and official security services.
Hook spoke about the importance of ensuring that US weapons are distributed only to official state entities and not to these militias, while blocking Iran’s path to consolidate its influence in Iraq.
This report and Hook’s special hearing are very telling in that they signal that Iraq is among the top concerns of American policy-makers these days. In many ways, the Americans understand that the future of Iran’s involvement in the region will be settled in Iraq.
In the past few years, and specifically since the December 2011 withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, the militias operating in Iraq promoted sectarian strife and undermined any attempt to reconstruct Iraqi civil society. Then, following the signing of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1, Tehran began increasing its support of Iraqi militias, with the hope of gaining more leverage against other countries in the region.
But the Iranian regime did not take into account the greater geopolitical changes in the region, and ignored the adverse reaction of the people in the Middle East – including in Iraq – to its expansionist ideology. Tehran thus suffered immense losses and paid a heavy price for its client-list politics.
Unfortunately, many political figures in Iraq continue to be bribed by Iran. They point to terrorism and describe it as a problem stemming from “neighboring countries,” without naming the Iranian regime specifically. The Iraqi popular militias, although supported by a law of the Iraqi parliament and subject to the powers of the prime minister, turned into an existential threat at the hands of Iran. The only way to protect Iraq is to dissolve these militias and bring an end to Iran’s influence over Baghdad’s politics. – Hamid al-Kilani

AN IRANIAN cruise missile fires into the air from a submarine during a test at Strait of Hormuz on February 24, in this still image taken from a video. (Credit: IRINN VIA REUTERS TV)

Al Jazeera, Qatar, June 22
The Democrats were confident that President Donald Trump would be impeached, or at the very least lose his credibility, by the time the 2020 elections rolled around. But as soon as special counsel Robert Mueller acquitted the president in his investigation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stepped back from her efforts to impeach Trump. She did so despite great pressure she faced within her own party, partially because she knew that such a move would come back to hurt the Democrats down the road. Unfortunately for Pelosi and her fellow Democrats, it is highly unlikely that Trump will be displaced from office.
The dilemma faced by the Democrats now is that they lack leaders like Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. There is not a single figurehead that can unite and lead the party in the upcoming elections and pose a credible threat against Trump. Even Joe Biden, who is perceived as a prominent politician and a close confidant of Obama, lacks the charisma needed to defeat Trump and win the election.
Winning the presidency is very different from winning a seat in Congress. Many clever politicians, who fared well in their bids for Congress, failed miserably at their presidential campaigns. This will likely be the case with the Democratic nominees competing in the upcoming election.
Trump is not only the first to understand, but also the first to capitalize on, this reality. He used his lack of political credentials to his own advantage, by presenting himself as a DC renegade. The Democrats, whether they openly admit this or not, are truly frustrated by this situation. And while it is too soon to tell who will win the race, we can confidently say that the Democrats had hoped for a much stronger starting point for next year’s campaign. – Ahmad al-Faraj

Al-Ittihad, UAE, June 22
The average observer of international affairs will almost certainly claim that we are closer than ever to war with Iran. Why is this the most prevalent prediction? In short, because Iran is determined not only to undermine regional security through its ballistic missile and unmanned aircraft programs, but also because it seeks to damage the world’s energy markets by blocking international waterways in the Arab Gulf and the Sea of Oman. Tehran’s plan is to use the Revolutionary Guard Corps to target US vessels in the Arab Gulf, while their agents in Yemen – the Houthis – threaten Egypt and Sudan with missiles. Iran, on its end, continues to believe that US President Donald Trump will lose his 2020 election campaign and find himself out of the White House. It is forgetting, however, that there is a large chance that Trump will win a second term and come back to punish Iran for its provocations.
Now, Iran, through both its statements and its actions, intends to increasingly extend its control over the waters of the Arab Gulf. It will again try to attack international maritime and commercial vessels in international waters.
There are many signs pointing to a rapid escalation on the ground, suggesting that if Iran continues to pursue its hostile actions, it will be confronted by a resolute American response. The new US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, John Abizaid, a four-star general and military expert, recently declared that the United States will not wait for Iran to carry out an attack before it retaliates. Instead, it will strike Iran rapidly and firmly in pinpointed preemptive operations. It is very likely that over the course of the next few weeks we are going to relive the notable American strike on the Iranian fleet in April 1988, which took place after an Iranian mine blew up the USS Samuel Roberts in the Arab Gulf. It is almost certain that such a thing may happen soon, especially given Trump’s short temper.
If Iran chooses to further escalate the situation, it is likely to do so throughout the entire region: in Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. But the United States, while talking about avoiding war, is preparing for a military confrontation with Iran. It is deploying more and more forces to the region and drawing plans for an attack.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani might be saying that his country is not interested in war, but we are all too familiar with Iranian hypocrisy to know that this is a lie. Iran is unable to read the political map and learn from its past mistakes, and it will pay for its arrogance dearly. – Amil Amee

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