American strikes in Syria: “A message of force” sent by the Biden administration to Tehran, according to Frédéric Encel

The United States bombed Iranian positions in Syria on Thursday. This is the first military operation in Joe Biden’s tenure.

“It’s a message of strength,” Frédéric Encel, senior lecturer at Sciences Po Paris, explained on Friday February 26, about the first military operation  carried out by the administration of US President Joe Biden against pro-militias. Iranian women in eastern Syria. An operation carried out in response to recent attacks on the American presence in Iraq.

franceinfo: So this is the first military operation of the Biden administration. Is this choice symbolic?

Frédéric Encel: Yes. Not only is he symbolic, but very emblematic of both someone who joins the right wing of the Democratic Party. It is a political family which is, in general, quite interventionist and which hates the accusation of part of the Republicans of softness. Throughout the 20th century, basically, American Democratic presidents have been overwhelmingly more interventionist than Republican presidents. On the other hand, Biden has always said he will return to the 2015 Vienna nuclear deal with Iran, but certainly not allow Iran to deploy overly large forces in the region.

What is the message sent to Tehran?

It is a message of strength, which means: “We have the firm determination to return to the nuclear deal despite what our Israeli, Emirati and Saudi allies think. Besides, look, we are doing it. efforts and we are already lifting a number of sanctions. But do not think that ballistically and in terms of deploying your forces throughout the region, we are going to falter. ” It is a message of strength which, contrary to what is often said, should probably allow an unblocking. Because in Iran, we also understand the language of force.

What may be the coming response from Tehran?

Personally, I think that the Iranians are not going to react militarily because they know that the balance of power is absolutely not in their favor. Indeed, they multiplied the sprains of an agreement, but at the same time, it was Donald Trump who, in May 2018, unilaterally left this agreement. So, up until then, they were pretty good at saying, “Wait, this is not being respected, so we are not respecting it either.” With Biden who has made a commitment and who has already made gestures in favor of this agreement alongside Moscow, Beijing and the Europeans, we are dealing with a real will that the Iranians cannot fail to grasp.

It is therefore possible to save this Vienna agreement on Iranian nuclear power?

I think that this Vienna agreement will be “restarted”, even if we never completely got out of it. In addition, I believe that the Iranians will try, as they did in 2015, to negotiate something that they do not yet have and that they probably never would have, in the light of Israeli threats, which could look like a hundred billion dollars. This sum corresponds to the main part of what international sanctions have cost them since their official initiation, that is to say on January 1, 2007.

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