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No Retaliation Emboldens Islamic Republic, Say Iranian Observers

File photo - Iran's Revolutionary Guard senior officers.

Some Iranian observers believe that the United States' reaction to the downing of a U.S. drone in the Persian Gulf by Iranian revolutionary guards may have emboldened Tehran in its stand-off against Washington.

President Donald Trump aborted retaliatory attacks on Iranian targets only some 10 minutes before launch, reportedly for humanitarian concern over possible casualties. Iran's state-run TV and some hardliners including clerics characterized the attack and Washington's reaction as a victory for Tehran.

Iranian journalist Sahand Iranmehr tweeted: "Trump's approach has strengthened the IRGC in Iran; moderates have been weakened and elected institutions have been marginalized. The idea of negotiations is no longer popular [ while people will experience even more economic pressure as a result of further sanctions."

German-based Iranian analyst Mehdi Mahdavi Azad observed that while the United States lacks the capability for a ground attack and possible limited strikes will not topple the regime, the government can control opposition moves inside the country and at the same time raise tension in order to make U.S. intervention in the region more costly.

An Iranian activist in Holland, Ammar Maleki, opined that “neither war nor negotiation” as a motto of the Iranian regime has perhaps been successful. The hardliners knew that under the pressure of snctions, going to the negotiating table would have appeared as surrender. So, they ignited conflict by shooting down the U.S. drone as a prelude to “heroic negotiations”.

Iranian journalist in London, Kayvan Hosseini wrote in a tweet that America’s decision not to attack Iran in the aftermath of the drone event, maybe has reduced chances of exchanging missiles in a real war, and instead both sides are more likely to stick to sheer rhetoric. The drone episode was a setback for John Bolton in Washington. Now one needs to wait and see what the Iranian versions of Bolton will do.

Meanwhile, agreeing that the strike on the U.S. drone may have empowered Iran in the stand-off against the United States, conspiracy theorists opined that the U.S. might have deliberately offered Iran a winning chip so that Tehran could decide about negotiating with Washington with renewed self-confidence.

Listeners calling Radio Farda have expressed concern over Iran's attack on the drone. Amir, a listener from Paris, said that Iranians should react to such a move if they do not want a war and do not wish to see the destruction of their country.

Another listener, Mohsen, told Radio Farda that aborting a limited strikes on Iran could mean that Iranians should expect more severe sanctions.

Mirza, a pro-regime listener, congratulated IRGC for their "achievement," adding that before the Islamic revolution America prevented the Iranian military's progress. He compared the attack on the U.S. drone to U.S. navy’s attack on an Iranian airliner in the 1980s in the same region.

Ali, a journalist from Iran, said the Islamic Republic is hiding behind this attack, portraying it as a patriotic act, while blaming the united states for the country's economic problems. Meanwhile, he suggested that Iranian armed force personnel should defend the people's right rather than defending the regime of the Islamic Republic.

Another listener said U.S. forces are powerful and are equipped with sophisticated weapons. He said he believed Iranians should expect attacks later anyway.

Yet another listener opined that although Trump stopped the attack on Iran this time if there is another provocation by Iran he would certainly order an attack to build confidence among prospective voters.

Meanwhile, military analyst Hossein Aghai told Radio Farda that while America is reluctant to start a war against Iran, Tehran is taking advantage of the situation. Iranian officials think Trump will not start military action against Iran ahead of his campaign for the next Presidential election in the United States, but this is a mistake Iran is making, as if the United States' interests are threatened, a military strike against Iran would be likely.