‘They intend to be as provocative as possible and make the Iranians do something [America] would be forced to retaliate for,’” says Hillary Mann, the administration’s former National Security Council director for Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs U.S. officials insist they have no intention of provoking or otherwise starting a war with Iran, and they were also quick to deny any link to Sharafi’s kidnapping.
But the fact remains that the longstanding war of words between Washington and Tehran is edging toward something more dangerous.
A second Navy carrier group is steaming toward the Persian Gulf, and NEWSWEEK has learned that a third carrier will likely follow. Iran shot off a few missiles in those same tense waters last week, in a highly publicized test. With Americans and Iranians jousting on the chaotic battleground of Iraq, the chances of a small incident’s spiraling into a crisis are higher than they’ve been in years.