Faced with a rapid escalation of tension with the United States in the Gulf, Iran strives to calm the game while maintaining a hard line vis-à-vis Washington, delicate exercise that the Islamic Republic is however broken .
“This face-to-face is not military because there will be no war, neither we nor the United States seek war, they know it would not be in their interest” said Tuesday evening Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic.
“The Iranian nation is determined to resist America,” added the Iranian number one, repeating her opposition to any negotiations “with the current US government”.
Khamenei’s statements reflect the Iranian authorities’ conclusion that Trump “is not ready to launch a large-scale war in a sensitive region,” Iran’s politician and conservative analyst Amir Mohebbian told AFP. .
Accustomed to statements often perceived as provocative in the West, Iranian officials, even within the Guardians of the Revolution, the ideological army of the Islamic Republic, calibrate their speech for several days.
Responding to American accusations, they warned Washington against any attack on Iran, predicting “failure” … but insisting that their country is not a bellicose nation.
Iran is a nation “too big to be intimidated by anyone,” declared Monday evening President Hassan Rohani.
“We are acting with the utmost restraint” in the face of an unacceptable “escalation” caused by the United States, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday.
Zarif, who is due to travel to China on Friday, has also ruled out “any possibility” of negotiations with the United States, surprised that President Donald Trump was able to say the day before be “sure” that Iran would ” soon to discuss “.
- – “Neither war nor negotiations” –
“The Iranian authorities follow the slogan of the Supreme Leader” neither war nor negotiation “with the Trump administration”, summarizes with AFP Clément Therme, researcher specializing in Iran at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS).
For Mr Therme, “the rhetorical outbursts on the Iranian side also come up against” the limited military means “of the Islamic Republic.
Iran can count on a large number of soldiers: 475,000 men in total, taking into account the national army and the Guardians, according to the IISS.
But, as a consequence of the international arms embargo against it, the country has, for example, for its air force, crucial in the event of conflict, only an aging and relatively small fleet.
And against a backdrop of economic tensions, Tehran can not substantially increase its defense spending, in a race that would also be lost before the American means – the GDP of the United States is 47 times higher than that of the United States. Iran, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Quite strained since the unilateral revocation a year ago by Trump of the 2015 Iran International Nuclear Agreement, relations between Tehran and Washington have become more tense in recent weeks.
Tehran said on May 8 has suspended some of its commitments made under this text.
On the same day, Washington tightened its sanctions against the Iranian economy before announcing a strengthening of its military presence in the Middle East, facing threats of attacks presented as “imminent” against its interests in the region.
The Trump method “is the pressure, and not resisting it simply leads to stronger pressure” from him, says Amir Mohebbian.
- – “Trap” –
So far, he adds, “Iran has acted wisely, showing flexibility and restraint to show the world that it is Trump who is trying to destroy the agreement” of 2015.
For Mohebbian, the Islamic Republic is clearly trying not to fall into the “trap” of the US president of pushing Iran to blame.
In April, Washington announced the ranking of Revolutionary Guards on its “list of” international terrorist organizations. “Tehran responded by declaring that it now considers US troops deployed from the Horn of Africa to Central Asia as” terrorist groups “.
Therme notes, however, “the difficulties in putting these threats into practice targeting US military forces in the region”, as it “could threaten good neighborly relations with the Iraqi government, for example”.
And, he continues, “the main factor favoring the maintenance of a cold peace is the strong opposition of public opinion of the two countries to a war.”
“In Iran, the memory of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88) is still very present in the collective memory, and one of the main forces (…) of the Islamic Republic is to ensure a certain stability in the population, “said this expert.