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Policy Summary

In the midst of the shocking announcement of the Trump Administration’s plans to send troops to Saudi Arabia, it is becoming apparent that the President’s erratic and miscalculated take on Middle East policy has led us to a place with few allies. In the days preceding the recent attacks on Saudi oil facilities, the United States made it clear who they believed were the culprits. The Trump administration blamed Iran. Political analysts worldwide have been aghast at the United State’s consistent accusations against Iran, and it’s constant defense of Saudi Arabia. It has contributed to what one political reporter called, “an almost comical display of indecision, confusion and bluster by the leader of the world’s most powerful country”.

While announcing the plan to ship troops to Saudi Arabia for defensive purposes, Trump also imposed additional sanctions on Iran. Iran has  denied allegations of responsibility via a formal notice sent to Washington. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo directly accused Iran of being behind the attacks on Saudi Arabia, which knocked out half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production. Pompeo wrote on Twitter, “Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani [Iran’s president] and Zarif [Iran’s foreign minister] pretend to engage in diplomacy”. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, said Pompeo’s comments were “fruitless and blind accusations and remarks are incomprehensible and meaningless.” Iranian officials then went a step further in cautioning that US military assets in the region are within range of its missiles.

President Hassan Rouhani and President Trump did not meet at the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York, this week. However on Thursday, Mr. Rouhani did not dismiss the idea that a future meeting with an American president was entirely possible as long as it was set by the Iranians. President Rouhani spoke of the intensified sanctions the United States has reimposed on Iran, “If he removes these preconditions, then negotiations with the U.S. are a possibility.”

Analysis

Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran is not working. Furthermore, it would appear that Trump has no official strategy. He does what his gut tells him to do. This means that on his own Trump could start a missile attack between the two nations with his erratic behavior. Military analysts say missile strikes or a naval siege could result in disastrous retribution.

Aggression toward Iranian allies, such as Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah party, could result in unfavorable tensions with Israel. Last week, the Pentagon advised the Trump administration against undertaking further exacerbating actions with Iran. Iranians, stirred by the recent accusations, could easily overreact resulting in deadly casualties or even war.

Focusing on diplomatic relations, European governments have been outwardly supportive of the Iranian nuclear agreement, negotiated by President Obama and our allies.  Trump pulled the US out of this agreement last year. Now European nations cast blame on hostile US policy for the current tensions with Iran. Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, said recently, “The deal to stop Iran acquiring military nuclear capabilities is a building block we need to get back to”. Pushing the cliche,“America first” rhetoric,  secretary of state, Mike Pompeo is attempting to establish an anti-Iran international coalition, claiming that relations with Iran is the “world’s problem”.  Ironically, Saudi leaders have asserted that they do not trust Trump if war were to break out. But the Saudis may not be a match for a provoked Iran.

However, there is possibly a silver lining to the ongoing international fiasco involving Iran. It is causing many Americans to wake up to the importance of reasonable, thought out relations with the Middle East. The looming, global consequences of having a trigger-happy POTUS are becoming more and more defined by the day. Iran’s reluctance to succumb to Trump’s frequent hurling accusations should serve as a warning to the current administration.

Secretray of State  Pompeo is now stating the US seeks a “peaceful resolution” and is emphasizing a non-military means to address the crisis. With any luck, the Trump administration will realize that the ongoing strife between Iran and Saudi Arabia is not worth American lives, and will decide to take President Rouhani  up on his offer to meet.

Engagement Resources:

  • The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is a multilateral, international organisation that works to build better policies for better lives.
  • USAID leads international development and humanitarian efforts to save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance and help people progress beyond assistance.
  • The Wilson Center’s Middle East Program serves as a crucial resource for the policymaking community and beyond, providing analyses and research that helps inform U.S. foreign policymaking, stimulates public debate, and expands knowledge about issues in the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
  • The Economic Commission for Western Asia (ECWA) is a UN organization with a purpose to stimulate economic activity in Western Asia member countries, strengthen cooperation between them and promote development.

This brief was compiled by Erin Mayer. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact ErinMayer@USResistnews.org

 

Photo by unsplash-logoRyan Miglinczy

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