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'Iran is Provoking a Conflict': Biden's Biggest Challenge in the Middle East

Iran nuclear (AP Photo)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visits the Bushehr nuclear power plant. (AP Photo)

JERUSALEM, Israel - Given the political chaos in Washington, you can understand why Americans might not be paying attention to what’s happening in the Middle East or elsewhere. You can be sure, however, the Middle East is thinking about the US and one specific country expected to challenge the new president. 

That country… Iran…and it’s already testing the waters.

“Iran is provoking a conflict. And I think a big question is whether President Biden and his team [will] figure out a way to stop them,” said Middle East expert Joel Rosenberg.

President-elect Biden plans to enter negotiations with Iran and possibly re-enter the controversial nuclear deal that President Obama made while Biden was his vice president. 

President Trump pulled out of the deal while also slapping sanctions on the regime.

“Negotiation would be a good way to do it. Nobody wants a war in this region again. But Biden is going to be tested,” Rosenberg told CBN News.

Rosenberg, Editor-in-Chief of All Israel News says Iran is telegraphing intentions by taking rogue action. The regime recently seized a South Korean tanker and its crew near the Straits of Hormuz and also raised its uranium enrichment level to 20 percent putting it on course to develop a nuclear weapon. 

A Wall Street Journal also cited a confidential u.n. report that Iran is close to manufacturing an ingredient used in the core of a nuclear weapon.

Rosenberg says it’s important that Biden and his team of advisors learn from the mistakes of his former boss such as not including regional players like Israel, the UAE, Bahrain and the Saudis when negotiating the Iranian nuclear deal. . 

“But also the flaws in the deal that didn't deal with missiles, that didn't deal with terrorism, that didn't deal with any of these other issues and left all these loopholes,” he said.

Loopholes like Iran’s widespread use of proxies across the Middle East such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, the Houthis in Yemen and militias in Iraq that have attacked US troops there.

“The Iranian art of war is based on fighting on other people’s lands by other people’s hands,” said Israel Defence Forces Res Brig. Gen. Assaf Orion. “What we are actually looking at is Iran’s regional effort which is running in parallel to its nuclear effort.”

Orion says the biggest factor shaping the Middle East right now is America’s transition of power. 

“Trump gave the Iranians the impression that he’s pretty unpredictable, I think rightly so,” Orion told a Media Central briefing for journalists.

According to Orion, the Iranians took extreme caution about launching attacks against the US with Trump in office.

“The stage is set for the Biden administration. The overarching theme is of course the nuclear talks but while we focus on the nuclear as the most severe threat, we shouldn't overlook Iran's dual strategy of doing also indirect proxy warfare across the Middle East. 

Rosenberg adds Biden must keep maximum pressure on Iran to create the right conditions to negotiate and avoid war.

“All eyes are going to be on Biden. And if he flinches in the light of Iran's intransigence, it’s going to be a very troubled season ahead,” Rosenberg said.

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