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Europe Must Resist the US to Salvage the Iran Nuclear Deal
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“Iraq is at the muzzle of the gun,” says Ali Allawi, Iraqi historian and former minister, speaking of the increased turmoil expected to follow the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement.

It is not only Iraq which is in danger: an escalating confrontation between the US and Iran will affect the whole region, but its greatest impact will be in Syria and Iraq where wars have long been raging and Washington and Tehran are old rivals.

The US will rely at first on the reimposition of economic sanctions on Iran to force it to comply with US demands and hopefully bring about regime change in Tehran. But, if this does not work – and it will almost certainly fail – then there will be a growing risk of military action either carried out directly by the US or through “green-lighting” Israeli airstrikes.

Iran is for the moment reacting cautiously to Trump’s denunciation of the 2015 accord, portraying itself as the victim of arbitrary action and seeking to spur the EU states into taking practical steps to resist imposing draconian sanctions along the lines of those that were imposed before 2015. Even if this does not happen, it will be important for Iran that the Europeans should only grudgingly cooperate with the US in enforcing sanctions, particularly on Iranian oil exports.

A problem for the US is that Trump has made the Iranian nuclear deal negotiated by Barack Obama the issue on which he will test the limits of US power which he had pledged to expand. But the agreement is internationally popular and is seen to be working effectively in denying Iran the ability to develop a nuclear device. The US is therefore becoming self-isolated, with full support only from Israel and Saudi Arabia, in the first weeks of a crisis that could go on for years.

Already Trump’s determination to sink the deal forever has involved marginalising and humiliating France, Germany and UK. They had pleaded for it to be preserved but made more palatable to the US by separate agreements on ballistic missiles and other issues. Trump seems to have enjoyed the procession of European leaders from Emmanuel Macron to Boris Johnson asking for compromise, only to go away empty-handed.

If the European leaders now go along with sanctioning Iran, there will be even less reason for Trump to take their views seriously in future. They have already seen their attempt to appease him on climate change fail to produce anything, so they either have to accept that they have less influence and a reduced role in the world or make a serious attempt to preserve the nuclear accord.

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But even if they do so, the US will be able to put intense economic pressure on Iran and its trading partners. Banks and companies are terrified of incurring the ire of the US Treasury and facing massive fines for even an unintentional breach of sanctions. Even if EU governments want their companies to go on investing in Iran, they may consider the risk too great.

Sanctions are a powerful but blunt instrument, take a long time to work and usually do not produce the political dividends expected by those who impose them. The Iranian rial may fall and hyperinflation return to 40 per cent, but this will most likely not be enough if Iran returns to enriching uranium. It has already said that it is not going to keep abiding by its part of the nuclear agreement if it is not getting any of the economic benefits promised.

What will the US do then? This is the crucial question for the Middle East and the rest of the world. Trump has just torpedoed any diplomatic solution to what he sees as the threat of Iran developing a nuclear bomb. The only alternative is a military response, but this would have to be more than a few days of intense airstrikes. Anything less than total war would not win for Trump the kind of results he says he wants.

Iran may be weak economically, but politically and militarily it is in a strong position in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, the countries likely to provide the main arena for the coming crisis. In all three places it is Iran’s fellow Shia who are in control and see the US as an ally of the Sunni states in what is in large part a sectarian Shia-Sunni conflict.

Has the Trump administration thought any of this through? The crisis is beginning to feel very much like that in the buildup to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Some of the same figures, such as the national security adviser John Bolton, are the very same neoconservatives who believed that invading and occupying Iraq would be an easy business. They sound as if they are bringing the same blend of arrogance and ignorance to their coming confrontation with Iran.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, EU, Iran 
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  1. anon[228] • Disclaimer says:

    The US will rely at first on the reimposition of economic sanctions on Iran to force it to comply with US demands ”

    US demands cant be made The demands are created that way. It is made in Israel by the neocons.
    The tribes do not any missiles other than their own, any bombs other than their own,any nuclear activities other than their own and no victims other than those made by them directly or through proxies.

    It is suicide and Iran will not walk into it.

    Can Pakistan turn around and throw US out and align with Iran ?

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  2. They have already seen their attempt to appease him on climate change fail to produce anything, so they either have to accept that they have less influence and a reduced role in the world or make a serious attempt to preserve the nuclear accord.

    Appeasement on climate change? Interesting term in this case, appeasement. Trump flipped the Euros the bird on climate change, on coal, on nuclear, oil. Trump’s utter disregard for Europe’s sensitivities on the climate certainly oughtn’t evoke notions of appeasement.

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  3. washington/israel/arabia ought to heed the truism, be careful what you wish for, you may get it

    if war is pushed upon the iranians it will be render saudi arabia and all of northern israel down to tel aviv indefensible despite any idf bluster. the missle attacks upon them will destroy SA and their oil production within a few weeks and destroy large segments of haifa and tel aviv.

    the illusion that israel is a secure defensible state will be shattered forever. i would expect a mass emigration of jews back to where they came from to commence.

    i do not think there has been single war gaming scenario postulated by the pentagon that DID NOT reveal a devastating disaster for the americans and their allies in the fight.

    and that war game planning likely did NOT include state of the art russian and possibly chinese support for iran.

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    • Agree: Seamus Padraig
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  4. leeza says:

    the jewish takeover is almost complete,. just 3 or 4 countries left, come-on jews, finish the takeover already.

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  5. anonymous[204] • Disclaimer says:

    Ray McGovern, a 78 years old, Assaulted by Police at Haspel Hearing

    FOR ALL TO SEE WHAT IS A POLICE STATE of America

    Follow The Money: Three Billionaires Paved Way For Trump’s Iran Deal Withdrawal

    [Indeed, today’s unpopular announcement may have been exactly what two of Trump’s biggest donors, Sheldon Adelson and Bernard Marcus, and what one of his biggest inaugural supporters, Paul Singer, paid for when they threw their financial weight behind Trump. Marcus and Adelson, who are also board members of the Likudist Republican Jewish Coalition, have already received substantial returns on their investment: total alignment by the U.S. behind Israel, next week’s move of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and the official dropping of “occupied territories” to describe the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

    Adelson, for his part, was Trump and the GOP’s biggest campaign supporter. He and his wife Miriam contributed $35 million in outside spending to elect Trump, $20 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund (a super PAC exclusively dedicated to securing a GOP majority in the House of Representatives), and $35 million to the Senate Leadership Fund (the Senate counterpart) in the 2016 election cycle.]

    http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/?q=node/14303

    United against evil empire and the swindler at the WH and its ziofascists billionaire supporters

    The following shows the brutality of the police state against its own citizens

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  6. Duglarri says:

    It will be interesting to watch the Trump administration’s utter incompetence catch up with it.

    A big problem for the Trump administration, in asserting sanctions, is that they no longer have the staff that would have done the work prior to Trump. It’s the State Department that does sanctions, and the head of that department just quit- and the department is apparently down to 40% of its previous staff. There’s very real reason do doubt they can even do the work required to sanction European companies.

    There’s no plan “B”? Heck, there’s barely a plan “A”.

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  7. El Dato says:

    Nice article. I do think Germany will prove reasonable and, once its demands have been fulfilled, will lay off Czechoslovakia.

    No wait, that was another page of history.

    Mr Cockburn is writing as a member of the theater, not to inform. Israel is in no case a major problem. The US is acting in full independence, and rationally. There is a problematic Iran and the usual tug-of-war of diplomacy between various countries that may have these or those consequences. China and its economic connections to Iran don’t even get a mention. Saudi-Arabia? Not a factor.

    The US will rely at first on the reimposition of economic sanctions on Iran to force it to comply with US demands and hopefully bring about regime change in Tehran.

    There are no US demands. There is only a quid-pro-quo that Trump has to fulfill vis-à-vis certain moneyed backers. Who want war, eventually.

    The US is therefore becoming self-isolated, with full support only from Israel and Saudi
    Arabia, in the first weeks of a crisis that could go on for years.

    There is no crisis, except a fully manufactured one. Or are we talking about the crisis whereby Syria survives its attack by the Israeli/Saudi operation, however diminished and half-occupied by the US in full illegality?

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  8. Fred787 says:

    One way or another, Washington will bring the Europeans to heel.

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  9. Even if EU governments want their companies to go on investing in Iran, they may consider the risk too great.

    Of course they’re too afraid of losing access to the US market to defy Trump on Iran. Will Europeans now finally wake up and see what a bunch of slaves their so-called ‘rulers’ really are? Will they now start to feel ashamed–just a bit–at how weak and pathetic they’ve really become?

    Because if they don’t wake up now, Washington will next come around and tell them to drop Nordstream II and impose a total embargo on Russian oil and gas. Then they’ll be forced to pay 2 or 3 times the market rate for LNG shipped from the US, their ‘friend’. And you know what? If it comes to that, they’ll actually deserve their plight; because, as Benjamin Franklin would say, those would trade liberty for security are destined to enjoy neither.

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  10. Eighthman says:

    Europe is too feeble and cowardly to oppose the US and will obey whatever they are told to do. Already their companies are scrambling to obey what they see as sanctions to come. Their eagerness means the short staffed State Dept. doesn’t have to worry, as Total or Siemens grovel to comply.

    There are other factors at work. Russia may benefit greatly, picking up billions in business that would have gone to Boeing or Airbus. They also have a barter arrangement with Iran for oil. Iran will deepen their alliance with China and Russia by default. Another question concerns how effective Russian air defense systems actually are – as held by Syria, China and Iran. All these bombings of Syria look suspicious as to missiles launched from afar, rather than fighters overhead.

    Higher oil prices will enrich both Russia and the Saudis. Shale oil from the US is shaky based on rapid depletion and heavy debt loads. The US could trigger a recession if oil goes too high. The sanctions on Russian aluminum backfired.

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    • Agree: Seamus Padraig
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