The latest round of shipping attacks could be another notch in Tehran’s controlled military response to U.S. pressure, and bolder escalatory actions should be expected given the bleak outlook for negotiations.
Washington should reduce tensions, open lines of communication, and restore deterrence, though managing the contradictions between these objectives will be challenging.
By holding fast to his defiant approach while stopping just short of war, Khamenei may be hoping to stall until the next U.S. and Iranian election cycles.
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Despite the challenges that usually accompany these high-level talks, Gulf countries seem keener than ever to counter the threat across the Persian Gulf.
Tehran has reportedly told its militia proxies to be ready for escalation, so Washington must prepare to maintain a full presence in Iraq even under potentially increased fire.