Trump pulling the US out of the Iran nuclear deal is a step on the path to more war in the Middle East argues Shabbir Lakha
Trump has announced that the US will be pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions on Iran ahead of the 12th May deadline. This comes despite the desperate bromance Macron has developed with Trump, which he thought with his uber-liberal charm could convince Trump of anything. It also comes shortly after Boris Johnson, our esteemed Foreign Secretary, said Trump deserved a Nobel Peace Prize. What you hear now is the sound of egg hitting Boris’ face.
Not unlike the Paris Climate Agreement, the other parties to the deal (UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) say they remain committed to the deal. But the reality is that with the US out of the agreement and with a new round of sanctions thrown at the Iranians this weekend, the likelihood of the deal still working is slim.
Trump’s decision to pull out of the agreement is just another example of how reactionary his administration is. Faced with being the most unpopular US President in history and scandal after scandal, Trump has increasingly resorted to being dictated by the Washington neocons to abate his domestic problems. Pulling a move with such serious international ramifications to placate the national opposition to you is as cynical as it gets, and it’s becoming a defining feature of the Trump administration.
But the decision is a bad one for everyone. For starters, the deal has achieved nuclear non-proliferation in Iran and it warded off an impending Israeli attack when negotiations had begun. What Trump said in his speech explaining his decision was frankly stupid and entirely inaccurate.
More importantly, the decision is another paving stone in the path to confrontation with Iran. The airstrikes on Syria by the US, UK and France last month were one of these steps. The limited airstrike had little effect on the Assad regime and was done with cooperation from Russia. The aim then can be seen – as well as being crude domestic politics by Trump, May and Macron – as an attempt by the Western powers to reconfigure their involvement in the Middle East after their failed interventions in Syria and Iraq and the increase in Russian influence in the region.
Further evidence of this is the immense support and drum-beating from Israel and Saudi. Netanyahu, you will remember, turned up to the US and addressed Congress uninvited in a bid to undermine Obama as he was pushing through the Iran deal in the first place. With a flair for theatrics, he began his PR campaign against Iran again earlier this year in anticipation of Trump’s decision.
The irony that Israel is the only nuclear-armed country in the region, that hasn’t declared its weapons nor signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, isn’t lost on anybody. And Netanyahu waited barely an hour before sending Israeli jets into Syrian airspace and launching strikes from the Golan Heights on to Syrian and Iranian military targets.
The Saudis, who are still fighting a battle in Yemen that they thought would be quick and easy, 3 years later and with no end in sight, have also been gearing towards confrontation with Iran. Last year, Trump forged an unprecedented open alliance between Saudi and Israel with both stating their common goal as stopping Iranian influence in the region and Trump cheering them on. Not long after, Trump signed the biggest arms deal in history with Saudi, selling them $110bn worth of weapons. And Mohammed Bin Salman’s recent comments telling Palestinians to “shut up” and stop being the cause of their own suffering, was just the icing on the cake in their blossoming partnership with Israel.
And then there’s the internal rift in the Iranian ruling class. President Rouhani is desperate for the deal to work because its failure is bad news for him. As the “moderate”, “reformist” President, his election signalled a change in direction for Iran’s approach to dealing with the West. His re-election last year was in part another rejection of the hard-line approach. But with the deal now failing, the ground is set for a challenge to his authority from Khamenei.
After Trump’s speech, Khamenei said: "I said many times from the first day: don't trust America". And he’s not wrong. This, while Trump is trying to broker a peace deal on the Korean peninsula on similar terms. As Medea Benjamin says:
Why would Kim Jong-un sign an agreement with Trump if he goes back on a deal already signed with Iran, a deal that Iran was complying with, a deal that was approved by the entire international community?
Trump is stupid and dangerous. But whatever he does, the British establishment will be welcoming him with open arms on 13thJuly. The stakes are high and our role in striking a blow to the special relationship and preventing our government from lending support to Trump’s warmongering cannot be overstated. We cannot let him get away with it, nor let this shambolic Tory government get away with doing his bidding. Our protest against his visit has to be even bigger and stronger and our demands must be clear.
Shabbir Lakha is a Stop the War officer, a People's Assembly activist and a member of Counterfire.
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