NIAC Statement in Response to Reports of Downed U.S. Drone

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 20, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

WASHINGTON DC – Today, Iranian forces reportedly shot down a U.S. military drone after it had allegedly entered into Iranian territory. U.S. officials maintain that the incident occurred in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.

In response, Sina Toossi, Research Associate at the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), said:

“Reports that Iran has shot down a U.S. drone over the Persian Gulf are alarming and serve as yet another potential tripmine to all-out war erupting. As U.S.-Iran tensions have soared in recent weeks, the need for deconfliction channels between the two countries is more pronounced than ever. These vital channels of communication existed in the past, allowing both sides to delineate boundaries and avoid collisions between their respective militaries in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Syria and in other theaters. However, the Trump administration, in pursuit of a counterproductive and destabilizing so-called ‘maximum pressure’ campaign, has eliminated all levels of communication between the two sides.

“If it is proven that Iran shot down the U.S. drone over international waters, it is provocative act that must be condemned by the international community. Regardless, there is a vital need for immediate U.S.-Iran deescalation. There are no military solutions to the U.S. disputes with Iran—only diplomatic ones. However, rather than pursue sincere diplomacy, President Trump has elected to pile on pressure with no strategic foresight at the behest of uber-hawkish advisors like John Bolton. If Trump wants to avoid a disastrous conflict at this critical juncture, he needs new advisors that would reopen channels of dialogue and enact policies that would bring Trump closer to a deal with Tehran, not war.”

Toossi continued:

“The fact is that the Trump White House’s policies have set the U.S. on a path to conflict with Iran. Actions such as designating as a foreign terrorist organization Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), a state-run military force which operates in the Persian Gulf in close proximity to U.S. forces, were bound to lead to the dangerous scenarios unfolding today. Indeed, the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies long warned against designating the IRGC for precisely this risk of escalation. They have since also held that Iran’s recent, more threatening activity is due to the Trump’s administration aggressive actions, including the IRGC designation and terminating sanction waivers for importers of Iranian oil.”

NIAC Statement on Latest Persian Gulf Tanker Attacks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 13, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, reports broke that for the second time this month two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz came under attack. U.S. officials were quick to blame Iran, while Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif seemed to deny the attacks and described them as “suspicious.”

In response to the reports that more oil tankers were sabotaged in the Persian Gulf, Jamal Abdi, President of the National Iranian American Council, said:

“With John Bolton seeking to maneuver the U.S. into a war with Iran, the sabotage of more oil tankers underscores the increasingly dangerous situation in the Middle East as the Trump administration pursues its maximum pressure approach toward Iran. The sabotage of oil tankers in May has not yet been attributed to any state. There is a plausible motive to attribute to Iran, but also to other actors in the region and beyond who want to maneuver the U.S. into a war.

The fact that the sabotage occurred amid Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s state visit to Iran–where he is believed to have communicated a message from Trump to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei–underscores that the likely motive of the attackers is to prevent any easing of tensions and block off exits ramps to war.

“We may know more about these attacks in the weeks ahead, but we urge all actors – in particular the Trump administration and Iran – to exercise restraint. Trump cannot mitigate the risks of war through pressure, but only by pausing his pressure campaign and by seriously investing in sober negotiations.

“For Congress, these attacks are yet another warning sign that Trump and his team are leaning into a disastrous war in the Middle East. Worse still, Trump officials have made clear they may not even seek Congressional authorization prior to launching a war. The House Armed Services Committee just held a rigorous debate on war powers and Iran in the early morning hours, where Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) underscored his commitment to ruling out an unauthorized war with Iran. That is precisely what is needed. However, the longer Congress waits to act while the situation unravels, the greater the likelihood of catastrophe.”