Hostilities between Iran and the western nations over the nuclear deal are increasing by the day, as the US decision to station troops in Saudi Arabia and the capture of two oil tankers by Iran shows. While Iran seizing or sabotaging oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz is likely lead down to its perceived objective of threatening to disrupt global oil supply and pressure US allies in Europe to persuade the Trump Administration to honour the nuclear deal, in reality it is only leading to increased hostilities and might lead to an accidental escalation of violence by either side.

Iran looking to pressure European countries to bring the US to the table is also of no consequence considering that the Trump Administration pulled out of the deal unilaterally, when its allies advised against it. This tells us that European powers, Russia and other stakeholder states cannot force the US President to do anything; Iran must look to engage the US directly or risk changing this into an open confrontation before long.

To blame the US is also moot, considering the President went on the path of confrontation on purpose; with things heating up quite quickly, there is no point pointing fingers and throwing accusations of who started this. Judging by everything that has happened after the US pulled out from the deal, from the hostile rhetoric to stationing additional troops in Saudi Arabia, increased hostilities were exactly what the US was looking for. It can only be hoped that there is a method to this madness however, western powers cannot keep pushing Iran and expect it to not respond in kind. Signs in the Gulf are currently very worrying, and Iran does not look like it wants to back down; it is not in the wrong either, so its stance does make sense.

However, given that the Middle East cannot afford another open conflict – and Pakistan cannot risk to see another war in its backyard, it is only hoped that this latest escalation allows for sensible minds to realise how close to war the US and Iran are, and look to negotiate a peaceful way out of this crisis.