This month marks the first anniversary of Trump administration’s exit from Iran nuclear deal. This decision has wiped out decade long diplomatic efforts of the international community. Tensions between Iran and the US have heightened since the American pull-out from Iran nuclear deal. Acts of both sides in last few months persuaded unprecedented tensions that could lead to an armed conflict.

Trump has re-imposed sanctions on Iran and threatened those countries still buying Iranian oil. In April this year, Trump has also listed Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization. This week it has also deployed the USS Abraham Lincoln at the Strait of Hormuz. The US military is also sending four B-52 bombers to the Middle East. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s unannounced visit to Iraq has further raised concerns about the nature of his visit. This visit hints that Mike Pompeo is trying to make grounds for smooth American adventure against Iran.

Iran has pushed back by announcing 60 days deadline for the European countries to follow terms of Iran nuclear deal or Tehran would resume enrichment of uranium. Though many analysts believe that this step is primarily “political posturing” by Iran to gain leverage for renegotiations with the EU and the US administration. However, this step has added justification for regional critics of Iran deal such as Israel and Saudi Arabia who had been convincing the world that Iran can resume Uranium enrichment anytime once the deadline of the deal ends.

Further, Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz. Strait of Hormuz has multiple times experienced a similar kind of heightened tensions in the past. In 1988, the US waged a one-day battle against Iran to limit Tehran’s capabilities and deter any attempt of closing the strait. Again in 2012, the standoff between Iran and the US in Strait of Hormuz remained a few months, which seriously affected the oil prices and commercial activities through sea lanes.

Unlike previous administrations of the US, Trump’s administration has given mixed signals. Mike Pompeo has said that, all options are on the table, while John Bolton seems to be more hawkish by deploying carrier strike group and bombers to Strait of Hormuz. Rather taking rational decisions, Bolton has been taking sides with anti-Iran lobbies. In 2016, he publicly met with the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MeK) and wished that the group may rule Iran. On the other hand, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is working on a roadmap for peace in the Middle East.

These mixed signals have further complicated the situation and added confusion in the already chaotic security situation. Unfortunately, the regional allies of the US are also encouraging the Trump administration to further escalate tensions. Netanyahu’s re-election has boosted his confidence. This is why Israel may further ignite the ongoing tensions between the Tehran and Washington.

Warmongers in Washington must not consider Iran as naive as Afghanistan of 2001 and Iraq of 2003. It will prove to be a historic mistake for conservatives as Iran has substantial military and naval capabilities that can create chaos in the region and beyond. Most importantly, it has the capacity to choke the Strait of Hormuz, which is the corridor of 17 million barrels of oil supplies from the region to the entire world. Furthermore, Iran has influence in four Arab capitals including Baghdad, Beirut, Sana’a and Damascus. Any attack on Iran could have shocking ramifications for regional peace and stability.

Trump’s fundamental problem is that he wants to undo everything what the Obama administration did at home and abroad. However, he would prefer renegotiation with Iran over war due to his promise during elections to reduce American overseas commitments, but his associates’ aggressive policies would limit options for Trump. If Trump wants to make America great again, he should show restraint rather pushing Iran to the corner.

The writer is a PhD candidate at the NUST and researcher at the Islamabad Policy Research Institute.

Warmongers in Washington must not consider Iran as naive as Afghanistan of 2001 and Iraq of 2003.