United States President Donald Trump on Monday offered to meet with the Iranians with no preconditions, less than a week after he issued an all-caps Twitter warning to the Islamic Republic not to threaten the US and just days after CNN reported the US is discussing military options to defend oil shipping from a potential Iranian attack. “I believe in meeting,” Trump told reporters on Monday in comments published on the White House website. “I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet. I don’t know that they’re ready yet… No preconditions. If they want to meet, I’ll meet.”
Trump wasn’t the only one sounding a slightly softer tone towards Iran. Last Friday, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis made it clear the Americans are not preparing for a military strike against Iran. “I’m confident it is not something that’s being considered right now,” Mattis told the media in comments posted to the Defense Department website. Those comments contrasted with a news report from CNN saying that the US was considering military options to defend vital oil shipping waterways from Iranian attack, an approach that Mattis himself seemed to support.
Following threats from Iran to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz—a narrow water passage that links Middle East oil producers with Europe and the West—Mattis told reporters last Friday in separate comments that such a blockade would need to be countered with “whatever that took.”
“Clearly, this would be an attack on international shipping, and it would have, obviously, an international response to reopen the shipping lanes with whatever that took, because of the world’s economy depends on that energy, those energy supplies flowing out of there,” said Mattis in comments also posted to the Defense Department website.
CNN reported that the Americans would envision a military response to defend oil shipping to come from countries in the region, not the US. Those nations are certainly the ones most at risk. Two Saudi oil tankers were recently attacked by Iranian-backed Yemeni rebels, noted the CNN report, adding fuel to the fire of rhetoric between Iran and the US.
Despite the US-Iran animosity at the moment, however, Mattis said that no regime change policy has been “instituted” with regards to Iran and focused instead on a different kind of change in Iran.
“We need them to change their behavior on a number of threats they can pose with their military, with their secret services, with their surrogates, with their proxies,” said Mattis.
And while Trump scrapped US involvement in the Iran nuclear deal, he too has hopes for a change in Iran. “I do believe that they will probably end up wanting to meet, and I’m ready to meet any time they want to,” said Trump on Monday.
“And I don’t do that from strength or from weakness. I think it’s an appropriate thing to do. If we could work something out that’s meaningful, not the waste of paper that the other deal was, I would certainly be willing to meet.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, July 30, 2018)