Ratcheting up pressures with Iran is making the situation in the region far worse, IPS Middle East policy expert Phyllis Bennis told MSNBC in regard to the White House’ reaction to  Iranian ballistic missile testing.

“There’s been no claim by the White House or Congress that the missile tests violated the Iran nuclear deal,” Bennis points out. We also have to remember that the Iran deal is an agreement signed between six countries and the U.S. cannot unilaterally claim Iranian missile tests are a violation of the agreement, Bennis said.

“We are hearing from Trump these threats of military force, and they are not something to take lightly when you have the president tweeting that Iran is ‘on notice’ with an unspecified threat,” Bennis said. “It raises the stakes and this president is not one who’s known for walking that back.”

Bennis said she thinks  there’s a real possibility for escalation in Yemen which could be viewed as a proxy attack on Iran.  Bennis added that 80 percent of the Yemeni population is food insecure. “Iran may treat escalation in Yemen as an attack on Iran, but it will be the Yemeni population that suffers.”

Watch the full interview on MSNBC.

Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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