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Trump trying to provoke conflict in Middle East to prop up US oil industry: Analyst

J. Michael Springmann

President Donald Trump is playing a dangerous game in the Middle East to save the US shale oil industry, which is under threat due to falling global oil prices, according to an American political commentator.

J. Michael Springmann, a Washington-based author and former US diplomat in Saudi Arabia, told Press TV in an interview on Monday that the global oil price needs to be at about $40 a barrel for US shale oil producers to be economical.

He suggested that Trump is trying to provoke a conflict in the Middle East possibly with Iran in order to boost oil prices which have collapsed due to the global coronavirus crisis.

Iran's president has told the Qatari emir that Tehran won't initiate any conflict in the region despite the US provocative moves.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is closely watching and following the activity and movements of Americans, but will never be the initiator of any tension and conflict in the region," President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday.

He made the remarks in a phone conversation with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

The Qatari emir, in turn, underlined the need for all countries to prevent escalation of tensions in the region.

During the phone call, the two sides also stressed that all countries must cooperate and strive to ensure the stability and security of the region.

The phone conversation came after US President Donald Trump claimed that he had instructed the US Navy to destroy Iranian boats “if they harass” American ships in the Persian Gulf.

"I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea," Trump wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

Springmann said that “there are several reasons for Trump's actions. The Senate bill or a House bill even is not going to hamper his ability to wage war unless it is passed by both members of Congress, in sufficiently large numbers of voting both Houses to be able to override a presidential veto, then he would be limited. One House of Congress is not going to work.”

“Trump's reasons for doing this are, well, myriad if you can call it that. In his case, he simply wants to play up his macho image as president, a wartime president and pursuing his efforts to shut down Iran to pressure Iran as much as he can with sanctions and any other means to harm the country and its people,” he stated.  

“He's driven by his right wing base. He's driven by the Zionist base; it's in his own family; his daughter and son in law are both Orthodox Jews who fully support Israel and its apartheid policies and its warmongering and human rights violations policies,” he noted.  

“Additionally, various speculations that I've seen that says he wants to prop up the American oil industry, shale oil in the United States, especially in North Dakota, which is also a very polluting way of extracting oil is failing and crashing, because the price has fallen dramatically for oil around the world,” he continued.  

“And I the last time I've seen for shale oil producers to be economical in North Dakota, you need oil at a price of $40 a barrel and it's way below that now,” he said.  

“So, Trump, I don't think really grasps what he's saying. He's apparently trying to declare war by in this business of Iranian speedboats and dangering a multi thousand ton American warship, by sailing 50 meters away from the ship, is absolutely nonsense. That's no threat at all. If anything were to happen, the speedboat would be crushed and rolled under the waves by the larger ships,” the analyst said.  

“But his efforts to provoke a war, he's going to get a trigger happy sailor on one of these ships, who's going to open up on a speedboat and then the ship will be swarmed by speedboats in retaliation, and sunk,” he said.

“And this will probably give Trump what he wants a chance to go after you on with everything he can possibly send their way to justify his actions and trying to destroy Iran. It's unbelievable,” he added.

“It comes close to the 1914 war where you had war by miscalculation, with the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in Serbia,” he said.  

“So Trump is really playing a dangerous game and he and his staff and whoever's advising him don't seem to realize the consequences of their actions,” the analyst concluded.

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