Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Chris Walls on Fox News Sunday that he believes President Trump's own advisers as well as Middle East allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel are “dragging the United States into a conflict” with Iran.
It comes just days after Zarif made similar statements about the possibility of US and Iranian ships clashing in the Persian Gulf, warning that a false flag "accident" scenario could "lure" Trump into war — something which he thinks Trump himself doesn't want to see happen. It appears Tehran's new strategy as it reels from the sanctions squeeze on oil and Trump ending the crude export waiver program is to try and delicately peel Trump away from the American 'deep state'.
Zarif specifically named National Security Advisor John Bolton, Israel, Saudi Arabia, along with close Saudi ally the United Arab Emirates, all as seeking to escalate tensions leading toward a regime change war on Iran.
Wallace asked if they’re “all trying to exercise regime change?” according to Fox, and Zarif responded, “at least, at least.” Iran's top diplomat explained:
“They have all shown an interest in dragging the United States into a conflict. I do not believe that President Trump wants to do that, I believe President Trump ran on a campaign promise of not bringing the United States into another war. But I believe President Trump’s intention to put pressure, the policy of maximum pressure on Iran in order to bring Iran to its knees so that we would succumb to pressure, is doomed to failure.”
Iranian Foreign Minister says 4 key leaders are trying to drag Trump into a conflict with Iran pic.twitter.com/lIAWviy88z— FoxNewsSunday (@FoxNewsSunday) April 28, 2019
Interestingly, it appears Zarif is attempting a direct appeal to Trump and the generally non-interventionist "bring the troops home" stance he campaigned on in 2016.
Tehran's leaders could be hoping for a Kim Jong Un style approach to Trump. Trump's North Korea opening over the past year was marked by a series of off the cuff personal appeals and communications that led to one-on-one dialogue and thawing of tensions.
Middle East historian and analyst Asad Abukhalil noted "the media blitz by Zarif is clear in its intention: the Iranian regime has decided to negotiate with Trump - with Trump and not with his team. They think that they can split the administration." Professor Abukhalil concluded, however, that "The calculation is not irrational but Trump does not see Iran like he sees North Korea."
Soon after the Zarif interviewed aired Sunday morning, John Bolton appeared on Fox to dismiss what he called Iran's "carefully prepared propaganda script".
He slammed Zarif for attempting to "sow disinformation in the American body politic" — in an acknowledgement of Iran's apparent new strategy to try and split Trump from the "deep state" agenda on Iran.