Is a war between the United States and Iran imminent? According to many White House aides and advisers to President Donald Trump last week, absolutely. President Trump, as recently as Sunday, himself said "If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran." A day later on Monday Trump said, "We have no indication that anything's happened or will happen, but if it does, it will be met, obviously, with great force. We will have no choice." So which is it? Will the U.S. fight Iran because it' has "truly been the No. 1 provocateur of terror," Trump's words, or does Trump believe, " we have no indication that anything's happened or will happen." A schizophrenic White House and president appear to believe there are both indications that Iran is "doing [something]" and yet that there is "no indication." The global economy hangs in the balance, not to mention the lives of millions.
In a week of saber rattling reminiscent of the George W. Bush era, Trump practically declared war on Iran daily only to walk back the statements this week. Similarly, National Security Adviser John Bolton all but declared war last week and appears to have been silenced this week. What is going on in Washington? Is the U.S. going to war or not? For now it appears war has been rescheduled as simply as one would reschedule a lunch date or a trip to the beach. In the meantime the U.S. has ramped up its trade war with the Chinese.
Google announced it would comply with U.S. government orders and prohibit Chinese smartphone giant behemoth Huawei from using its software in Huawei phones. The number two phone maker now must scramble to replace the popular operating system in its phones and potentially lose millions of customers in the process.
New Huawei users will now lose access to Google Play, the "App Store" for Android users. This is a major blow for Huawei because even if it has a replacement operating system ready, popular app makers don't currently have their apps listed on whatever the Huawei equivalent of Google Play will be. This will leave current Huawei users without options and turn off potential purchasers of the devices should Google block access to all users. A major escalation in the U.S.-China trade war undoubtedly, but how will the Chinese respond? A ban of all iPhone sales? Not likely as the Chinese are the manufacturers of the popular smartphone device. So what then? This is still unclear.
Finally, to Turkey. Turkey has stated that after the U.S. rebuffed its request to purchase U.S. made Patriot missiles, Turkey was left with no choice but to purchase Russian made S-400s, in which some technologies would be jointly built. In response the U.S. changed course and said the U.S. would now sell Turkey Patriot missiles, after Turkey had already paid for the S-400s. Now Turkey is left in a position of having paid for defense capabilities yet is being threatened with U.S. sanctions and potential exclusion from the F-35 program, a fighter jet development program in which it is a major investor and participant.
The U.S. on Tuesday gave Turkey until the first week of June to cancel its S-400 order. Talk about being in between a rock and a hard place. Does the U.S. actually want Turkey to renege on it's purchase of the S-400s, lose billions of dollars in the process, and the potential to increase the defense capabilities of a NATO country, or does it know Turkey can't? Is it actively seeking to divorce itself from Turkey at the urging of other countries? Is President Trump being influenced by the same advisers whose track record is one of a Middle East in ruin, advisers whom he himself has silenced this week? It would appear so.
What will happen in the next two weeks is unclear but this is a critical time for U.S.-Turkey relations and lest an amicable solution is agreed upon, a long history of cooperation will be sacrificed for short-term political gain.
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