26 Nov, 2020
JERUSALEM WEATHER

It’s no secret that tensions between Washington and Teheran have been tense since Trump’s inauguration in 2016, recent developments indicate that a potential joint Israel/US strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities could be closer than we realize.

Why Trump terminated Esper

US President Donald Trump has fired his defense secretary, Mark Esper earlier this week. And while many speculate that the reason is because Esper was at odds with his boss over deploying US troops into cities during violent Black Lives Matter protests, there could have been another reason for the move that many seem to be overlooking.

Elissa Slotkin, an ex-Obama administration official at the Defense Department, spoke about Esper’s termination saying that : ‘There would only be a few reasons to fire a secretary of defense with 72 days left in an administration.

One of those was because the president wants to take actions that he believes his secretary of defense would refuse to take. She then described that scenario as “alarming.”

Other disagreements Esper had with is boss

What actions could she be referring to? Aside from disputing Trump on troop deployment into US cities, Esper also contradicted Trump on Iran and the assassination of top IRGC general Quassem Soliemani – walking back some of the Commander in Chief’s statements. But that’s not all.

The New York Times reported that ‘Defense Department officials have privately expressed worries that the president might initiate operations, whether overt or secret, against Iran or other adversaries during his last days in office.’

His replacement is more hawkish on Iran

Trump then appointed Esper’s replacement, Christopher Miller, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Officials claim that  Miller was a driving force in some of Trump’s policies against Iran and its terror proxy, Hezbollah. He was also a catalyst for anti-terror efforts in both Syria and Iraq.

Former top security officials speak out

And although those officials remain anonymous, former National Security Advisor H.R McMaster went on the record saying that “it’s a possibility” Israel will strike Iran’s nuclear sites before Trump leaves office.”

Finally, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s has planned an upcoming visit to Israel where he will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss “joint efforts to address Iran’s malign activities.”

According to Israel’s Walla military reporter Avi Bohbot: “Pompeo’s visit appears to be a last ditch effort to move against Iran” adding that IDF sources report that the Israeli Military’s commander in Chief Aviv Kochavi is “extremely concerned” about a the prospect of a Biden administration.

He is then scheduled to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed “to discuss security cooperation and regional issues.” Pompeo is also set to visit Qatar where he will discuss “bilateral and regional issues, including the importance of Gulf unity.”

The one thing that can unite Gulf states

And if there’s anything that the Gulf can unite around, it is their opposition to Iran as demonstrated in the annual Gulf Co-operation Council summit where GCC member states were in agreement that ‘the greatest threat to the region was Iran.’

The speculation surrounding an imminent strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities could be compounded by a report published in September by the Institute for Science and International Security, “Iran’s estimated breakout time as of late September 2020 is as short as 3.5 months.3.5 months from September is late December-early January, just before the time when President Trump or former VP Biden’s inauguration takes place.