Trump Will Not Fight Iran only Stifle Its Economy – Sanctions by another Name

Iran was the main focus of the talks Saudi King Salman held in China, Indonesia and Singapore during his month-long Far East tour for the promotion of financial investment in the oil kingdom – even though on Feb. 26, the Malaysian police averted “in the nick of time” an Islamic State terrorist attack on the 1,500-strong royal entourage.
DEBKA Weekly’s intelligence sources reveal that the monarch gave his hosts to understand that he was privy to the Trump administration’s plans for Iran and was presenting them as shared US-Saudi policy. His message was as follows: President Donald Trump has decided not to confront Tehran in a straight showdown. Neither would he stand by his campaign pledge to rip up the nuclear accord, considering it was signed by five nations aside from the United States. Instead, he and his advisers had put together measures for sinking the Iranian economy and thereby forcing the ayatollahs into compliance with Washington.
The idea is essentially for Iran to finish consuming the $150 billion windfall from the nuclear accord, wind up without foreign reserves and drop back into its calamitous pre-accord economic straits.
The king explained the hope that the Iranians, starved of capital, would have no option but to put their nuclear plans on ice, discard plans to expand their armed forces and upgrade their weaponry, pull back from expansionist adventures outside their borders, chiefly in Syria and Yemen, and give up their subversive activities against Sunni Gulf nations.
This strategy does not depart radically from the exiting US sanctions regime against Iran, DEBKA Weekly’s sources say. Penalties remain for various Iranian sectors linked to the Tehran government and Revolutionary Guards Corps military, intelligence and economic systems. The main difference is that Iran’s foreign associates will be closely monitored and warned of the penalties for consorting with Tehran: they will be banned from contracting business in America and banished from the international banking system.
Sources familiar with the anti-Iran mechanism taking shape in Washington call it a form of “silent sanctions” under the international radar.
Salman also reported that Washington has asked the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to conduct much stricter inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities and to stop concealing its reports from the public.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson put this demand before the IAEA Director Yukiya Amano when they met on March 6. Amano later reported, “The US administration has not yet decided what to do about the 2015 Iran nuclear deal,” which was taken to mean that he was keeping the content of this conversation under his hat.
According to our sources, Iran’s Lebanese surrogate, Hizballah will be an important target of the new US sanctions.
If Iran becomes too cash-strapped to maintain a military presence in Syria, Hizballah too will be denied the wherewithal for maintaining an expeditionary army of 8,000-10,000 fighters in Syria, a figure that fluctuates according to the battlefield’s needs for reinforcements.
By its participation in the Syrian war at Iran’s behest, Hizballah has grown from an armed militia into a powerful military leviathan. The Lebanese national army has been reduced to no more than a subsidiary branch.
Reassessment of US ties with the Lebanese army is therefore underway in Washington. It became urgent when on Feb. 12, Lebanese President Michel Aoun declared in Cairo: “As long as Israel continues to occupy lands and the Lebanese army is not strong enough to stand up to it, we feel the need to have the resistance army (Hizballah) as a complement to the Lebanese army’s actions.”
President Aoun may find this policy costly – both for himself and his country – when they are targeted for the US-Saudi penalties imposed on Iran.

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