Opinion | Biden’s dilemma over Iran’s skilled game of chicken (Financial Times)


    Opinion | Biden’s dilemma over Iran’s skilled game of chicken – By John Sawers (Financial Times) / Feb 3, 2024

    Tehran is gradually turning the Hamas crisis to its advantage but concerns about domestic stability remain high

    The writer is former chief of MI6 and UK Ambassador to the UN

    Iran was wrongfooted by Hamas’s October 7 assault on Israel. Tehran hadn’t been consulted and the operation risked pulling Iran into a wider conflict it didn’t want. Six billion dollars that was about to be released by the United States in return for a prisoner exchange was blocked. There was a hint of irritation at Hamas in public comments by Iranian leaders.

    But in the nearly four months since, Iran has gradually turned the situation to its advantage. Hamas’s attack hurt Israel and exposed its vulnerability. It also stalled efforts to get Saudi Arabia to establish relations with Israel. So there were benefits for Tehran to build on. Across the Middle East, militants trained and equipped by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) have ratcheted up the pressure against shipping in the Red Sea and bases used by US forces in Iraq, Syria and now Jordan. Hizbollah in Lebanon, by some way the most important of the Iran-backed groups, has added to Israel’s discomfort while keeping within the unwritten parameters of rocket exchanges across the border.

    US President Joe Biden has a lot on his plate in an election year. Who can blame him for wanting to avoid another conflict in the Middle East when memories of Iraq and Afghanistan are still sore? Iran doesn’t want a regional war either. But Biden’s clear priority of avoiding escalation has given Iran confidence to up the pressure, assessing that the consequences would be manageable.

    CONTINUE >  https://www.ft.com/content/6417b53a-22c0-4a50-aacd-9b25beb6a328?segmentId=b385c2ad-87ed-d8ff-aaec-0f8435cd42d9


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