“Iran has probably arrived at the conclusion that it has less to lose from acting this way than from doing nothing,” Aniseh Tabrizi, a research fellow and Iran expert at London’s Royal United Services Institute, told CNBC via phone Tuesday.
“There is a gamble behind it that wasn’t there before, which is: ‘If other countries retaliate, we are willing to take the risk because we have really nothing to lose at this point’,” Tabrizi described. “And that is a dangerous way to feel.”
Iran’s economy is expected to shrink by 6% this year, after having contracted 3.9% last year, the International Monetary Fund says. By contrast, it clocked 3.8% growth in 2017, before the Trump administration re-imposed economic sanctions after withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal that offered the Islamic Republic relief from prior sanctions.
“It’s all about careful calibration and plausible deniability,” Hussein Ibish, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, told CNBC.
Iran’s tactics, experts say, are designed to disrupt but not provoke a military response. So far, attacks have specifically avoided civilian deaths and environmental damage like an oil spill.
Instead, the Revolutionary Guard or its naval equivalent may be sending the message that it’s capable of undermining U.S. and Arab Gulf states’ interests in the region. And if they feel they can get away with it, it’s because they’re banking on President Donald Trump not wanting to actually start a war.
“Ultimately, Iran’s intention is to call President Trump’s bluff,” says Ibish.
I don’t have a clear view on this matter, but find it an interesting and of course important question. Here is more from Natasha Turak.