Trump's dilemma in Gulf region
Updated at Friday, 20 Sep 2019, 06:36
The Hanoitimes - The attack on Saudi Arabia`s oil facilities has put President Trump in a dilemma which it is not easy for him to get rid of.
From the outset, it was out of question for the US, Saudi Arabia and US President Donald Trump personally that Iran masterminded the attack on Saudi oil facilities that knocked out almost half of Saudi Arabia's oil capacity. Their usual practice is to immediately accuse Iran of sabotage and provocation in the Gulf region even without any plausible evidence.
The attack carried out by whomever and by whatever means - whether drones or cruise missiles - caused huge damage on all aspects to the royals reigning over the kingdom. And not only this, it put Mr. Trump in a dilemma which it is not easy for him to get rid of.
US President Donald Trump
On one side, Trump must act, the sooner and the more resolute the better for him. Saudi Arabia is the US’s closest and most important ally in the Gulf region and the US has security commitments with this kingdom. In order not to lose credibility, Trump must respond and retaliate. The question is whom the US will strike against. For Trump and Saudi Arabia, the answer could only be Iran. But supposition is not proof and can in no way replace proof. And even if the US presents some evidence proving Iran is involved in this attack, the world will hesitate before deciding whether or not to trust the US. The memory of the US lying in 2003 on Iraq's chemical weapons is still fresh. Lacking clear and convincing evidence, any military strike of the US against Iran would be more risk than gain for the US and for Trump personally.
On the other side, Trump pledged during his 2016 presidential campaign to end and not to carry out US military interventions outside the US as well as to withdraw US soldiers from conflict and war zones. He knows that Americans are already tired of American wars in foreign countries. He is aware of the fact that he could only be reelected in 2020 by fulfilling these commitments. Any US military strike against Iran immediately results in Iran’s retaliations against the US and its allies in the regions, first of all against Saudi Arabia, Israel and UAE. It would be an ever expanding fire which would very soon slip out of control of all parties. And that would be an unavoidable political and military Waterloo in the Gulf for Trump.
Because Trump doesn’t want to return to Obama's accommodating policy towards Iran and because Trump doesn’t dare to go into war with Iran, at least under the present circumstances, he will and can only increase pressures on and impose more sanctions against Iran. And wait.
Ambassador Tran Duc Mau