Is the United States preparing to attack Iran? On Friday, Defense Secretary James Mattis dismissed this idea as “fiction,” back when the sources were in the Australian military. Yet other US officials have since been quoted as saying the attack is still being considered.
The pretext for this war appears to be the ongoing Yemen War. Last week, Saudi state media claimed that Yemen’s Houthi rebels attacked and slightly damaged a Saudi oil tanker. The Saudis have previously alleged the Houthis are tied to Iran, and US media is treating this as some sort of transference, and reporting that Iran attacked the Saudi oil tanker, even though no one alleged that ever happened.
Since the US has spent years presenting oil security as a reason for war with Iran, they are considering using that excuse. Officials say that this would be mostly a Saudi-led attack, with Saudi Arabia and its allies doing the bulk of the fighting, and relying on the US for support.
Officials say this would require a “long-term military effort” against Iran. The US expectations that they might keep their involvement limited to a support role appears particularly unrealistic, given how much the same Saudi-led coalition has struggled to conquer Yemen.
The danger here is that both the US and what it envisions to be its proxy army are going to each go into a war with high expectations for one another, and each get into a much bigger war than they bargained for.
There are few specifics about what form this war would take, as US officials were insisting as recently as a few days ago that they are not interested in regime change in Iran. It is hard to imagine, however, that they could get the major Sunni Arab states to attack Shi’ite Iran with any hope of it being “limited.”