From Bernhard at Moon of Alabama, February 19 (Why Iran needs to talk with the Taliban):
The Trump administration is preparing a public argument for war on Iran. The Washington Times ...[exclusively reports that administration officials claim] that Iran is allied with al-Qaeda and thus could and should be attacked.
At the recent conferences in Warsaw and Munich, the Trump administration failed to gain any European support for its anti-Iran strategy. Iraq has likewise rejected all U.S. attempts to position it against Iran. If the U.S. wants to attack Iran it will need to go it alone. Its 'allies' west of the Persian Gulf will give financial support but are not a serious military force. What they can do though is to ramp up terrorism against Iran.To support the claim in the above last sentence, Bernhard quotes M.K. Bhadrakumar, a widely respected defense/foreign policy analyst who served India for many years until his retirement as a Career Diplomat (as distinct from a diplomat appointed from outside a country's foreign service).
BEGIN BHADRAKUMAR QUOTES:
[T]oday, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are Israel’s covert allies in West Asia. They are joined at the hips in the project to overthrow the Iranian regime. We may expect that the [Afghanistan-Pakistan region] could become a major theatre from where their covert operations would be launched with the help of Pakistan under the watch and protection of the US to destabilise Iran. Tehran has repeatedly alleged that the two Arab states are working in tandem with the US and Israel.END QUOTES
Tehran's allegations about Saudi Arabia are old news; it's been open knowledge for about three years that S.A. is allied with Israel on several matters, including Iran. (Bhadrakumar surely knows this). As to the UAE, they don't always march in lockstep with S.A. but have given every indication that they do regarding Iran.
Now is the Washington Times just passing along gossip? The paper is a known conduit for U.S. military views and propaganda. So the Times report can be taken as an indication that the Trump regime is ratcheting up its case for overt U.S. military action against Iran.
Regarding Bernhard's observations about the Europeans (he's referring specifically to the west European members of NATO): That the Europeans don't support Trump's policy toward Iran doesn't mean they'd refuse to militarily support a U.S. military action against Iran. They've militarily supported the U.S. for far less reason in Syria, just as the U.S. reluctantly gave military support to the French-British military actions to overthrow the Qaddafi regime in Libya.
So I think the European stance would need to be much stronger than now if they really want to distance themselves from U.S. policy toward Iran. They might support Trump's machinations against the current regime in Iran, but one has to make a distinction between Trump and NATO. Any direct U.S. military action against Iran would bring pressure on the most powerful European NATO regimes to go along, and I think the British regime, at least under Theresa May, would go along under any circumstance.
This could precipitate the kind of showdown at the UN that we saw regarding the Bush regime's claim that Saddam Hussein had to be overthrown. But from what I see at this time, I'd say the Germans and French would want to avoid a showdown. Both governments have their eyes on Beijing and want as much as possible to present the Chinese with a united Western front.
So it comes down to just how willing Trump is at this time to launch a regime-change operation against Tehran. It's possible this latest round of saber-rattling is actually Trump's reaction to the cold shoulder he got in Warsaw and Munich. He might be signaling to the Europeans that unless they give more support to his sanctions against Iran, he'll just have to drag them into open war against Iran.
Whether or not this is the case, Trump is presiding over a fractured Republican party; if he wants to win reelection he'll have to mollify or at least 'string along' the large hawkish element in the party, which can't wait to make war on Iran.
Yet against these considerations is the larger picture that Bhadrakumar paints, in which the United States is only one significant player (emphasis in the following quotes is provided by MoA):
BEGIN BHADRAKUMAR QUOTES
After last Tuesday’s fedayeen attack in Iran’s southeastern region of Sistan-Baluchistan bordering Pakistan (in which 27 Iranian troops were killed in circumstances eerily similar to what happened in Pulwama), top Iranian generals have openly alleged the role of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. Unsurprisingly, Saudis and the Emiratis who are bankrolling the Pakistani economy, have come to call the shots in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Tehran is expecting turbulent times. [...][W]e have an explosive mix today, such as we have never come across before in our region and which no one could have foreseen previously — except, indeed, the astute mind of Hamid Karzai — whereby the Taliban leadership has come under immense Pakistani pressure to eschew its “Afghan-ness” and accede to the US wish list on an open-ended [US] military presence in Afghanistan (which is also backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE as well as Israel.)END QUOTES
This big-picture view of the situation has ended up on the cutting-room floor in the 'Iran Movie' that hawkish Republicans (and Democrats) and their buddies in Saudia Arabia and Israel have produced.
As to recent Iranian talks with the Taliban and Bernhard's speculation that Tehran could try peeling the Taliban away from Pakistani influence as a way to protect Iran's eastern flank from terrorist attacks -- it's to be remembered that the Taliban are Sunni fundamentalists who've remained allied with al Qaeda through thick and thin. So while they have cooperated with Iran on occasion, it's open to question how far cooperation would extend at present on either side.
However, the biggest picture is that an 'Axis of Resistance' has emerged and that Iran is very much a part of it. From Part 2 of Elijah Magnier's Reshaping the Middle East: Why the West should stop its interventions (February 16):
Iran has adopted a new ideology: it is not an Islamic or a Christian ideology but a new one that emerged in the last seven years of war. It is the “Ideology of Resistance”, an ideology that goes beyond religion. This new ideology imposed itself even on clerical Iran and on Hezbollah, who have abandoned any goal of exporting an Islamic Republic: instead, they support any population ready to stand against the destructive US hegemony over the world.
For Iran, it is no longer a question of spreading Shiism or converting secular people, Sunni or Christians. The goal is for all to identify the real enemy and to stand against it. That is what the West’s intervention in the Middle East is creating. It has certainly succeeded in impoverishing the region: but it has also elicited pushback from a powerful front.
This new front appears stronger and more effective than the forces unleashed by the hundreds of billions spent by the opposing coalition for the purpose of spreading destruction in order to ensure US dominance.That, too, American war hawks in Congress -- and President Trump -- have ignored.