The U.S. Diplomatic Dangles Toward Iran
How the U.S. government constantly cozies up to Saudi Arabia.
President Trump has charged that Iran has violated the spirit (rather than the letter) of the P+5 nuclear agreement.
He has thus ordered a 90-day review that, in the words of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, will “evaluate whether suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the JCPOA is vital to the national security interests of the United States.” (JCPOA is the acronym for the nuclear agreement or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.)
To add pressure on Iran, Trump has also aligned the United States squarely alongside Saudi Arabia, which charges that Iran is the world’s foremost source of political violence.
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, on a visit to Riyadh last week, echoed the kingdom’s view of Iran, saying that “everywhere you look if there is trouble in the region, you find Iran.” Mr. Mattis went on to say that, “it is in our interest to see a strong Saudi Arabia.”
Re-imposing U.S. sanctions against Iran that were lifted alongside punitive United Nations measures would stop short of a unilateral termination of the agreement, but leave Iran no choice but to respond.
Iran could retaliate with relatively meaningless sanctions of its own, but that would unlikely satisfy the country’s hardline critics.
Nor would it satisfy the average Iranian. They have a sense that the agreement has so far failed to produce the promised or hoped-for economic benefits.
On the plus side, cooler heads would likely counsel that any U.S. punitive action is not advisable, since it would allow Iran to play the international community against the United States.
Agreeing on Iran as the bad guy
Since coming to office, Mr. Trump has stepped up military support for Saudi Arabia’s troubled intervention in Yemen.
This has resulted in increased strikes against jihadist targets, a loosening of the U.S. rules of engagement and a lifting of restrictions on U.S. arms sales to the kingdom because of the high civilian casualty rates in the conflict.
“We will have to overcome Iran’s efforts to destabilise yet another country and create another militia in their image of Lebanese Hezbollah, but the bottom line is we are on the right path for it,” Mr. Mattis told the Saudis. Iran has backed Houthi rebels in Yemen whom Saudi Arabia accuses of being Iranian stooges.