The members of Congress were briefed on Tuesday by Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford.
Senator Graham, speaking to the press, said that “the Iranian threat streams” are different this time and that the recent attacks were “co-ordinated and directed” by Iran’s government and the Supreme Leader.
The attacks had the aim of sabotaging oil interests in the Gulf and U.S. President Donald Trump had predicted that Iran was involved. He also said that Americans were not targeted because of his administration’s deployment of military reinforcements to the Gulf.
The weeks previous to this had been fraught with tension and there were concerns from many that a military conflict – intentional or not – would ensue.
Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, had warned Iran earlier this month that the United States would use “unrelenting force” if the Iranian regime dared to threaten Americans.
The Iranian regime is in the weakest place it has ever been. It is being subjected to extremely tough economic sanctions and the United States is not easing up on its maximum pressure campaign. Adding to all of this is the domestic pressure that is also being maintained by the people of Iran.
The Trump administration has made it very clear that it will not accept the regime’s meddling in the region and its support of terrorist proxy groups and militias that work all over the world on Iran’s behalf. Trump pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) last year in a bid to get Iran back to the negotiating table.
Trump explained that the 2015 Iran nuclear deal is weak and one-sided and said that the United States would withdraw because it does not cover the entire Iran threat. Trump made it very clear that he is encouraging dialogue with Iran.
The Iranian regime flat out refused to negotiate with Trump. When Trump re-iterated that the door to negotiations remains open, a number of Iranian officials stated that Iran would never negotiate. The Supreme Leader himself also confirmed that Iran would not negotiate.
However, since then, a number of officials, including Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, have said that Iran could be persuaded to engage in dialogue.
Without the massive oil revenues to fund its militias and proxy groups, the regime is doomed. Negotiating with the United States is the only real option that remains. Military conflict, as the Trump administration has said, would result in the immediate collapse of the regime. It would not survive a conflict, and its regional allies, Lebanon and Iraq, are hardly in a position to help.