Gulf glitch

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The gulf region is in turmoil again. The US sanctions against Iran, its deployment in the Persian Gulf, and the mysterious attack on oil tankers belonging to the Saudi, UAE and Norway add to the tensions in the region that, some say, might spin out of control. The US has a plan to send more than 100,000 US forces to take military action to delay Iran’s nuclear program if it becomes a serious threat, CNN reported quoting an official.

Tehran doesn’t want a war. It denied Iranian involvement in attacks on the oil tankers in the Gulf and on a Saudi oil station. While Iranian leaders appeared to feel some pressure, they issued statements cautioning against conflict. Khamenei told officials and lawmakers on Tuesday that “we don’t seek a war nor do they.”

Iran’s diplomats hold a similar view. Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said; “We do not seek escalation, but we have always defended ourselves. Iran’s ambassador to the UK, Hamid Baeidinejad said “if the US wants to draw Iran into a military conflict, they should be aware that this will be devastating, not just for the US, but also for the whole [Persian Gulf] region.”

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo too said that “we fundamentally do not seek a war with Iran.”

Analysts, having a keen eye on the developments say the US administration is making public its plans to frighten the regime in Iran and carrying on a psychological warfare.

Be that as it may, Pakistan’s diplomatic wisdom may be put to test if the conflict escalates any further. It has not been having the best of relations with Iran lately. Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project is stalled courtesy the US sanctions. There are other impediments in the way of restoring good relations between the two countries. Some recent terrorist incidents along the Pak-Iran border have added to the already existing mistrust. The Saudi Crown Prince’s visit a couple of months ago created the impression that Pakistan probably was about to join the ‘Saudi camp’ aimed at countering Iran’s influence in the region.

Pakistan will not join any camp in case of a conflict, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Tuesday adding that any conflict could have negative implications for the entire region, including Pakistan.

In spite of all the distrust, the prime minister of Pakistan Imran Khan’s visit to Iran and his candid conversation with Iran’s top leadership may have helped ease the situation. Any move now, under pressure from other countries, may upset the applecart again, so caution is advised.