Contributed by Jim Hayes
Although following a traditional game plan, American president Donald Trump is blundering over Iran. The tactic and timing of his walking away from the Joint Commission Plan of Action which his country signed in 2015 and the intent to impose even more sanctions, is already backfiring. The world is not happy about a move that stands to hold back progress on the nuclear issue and dampen down the global threat of the Korean hot spot.
This is also about Iran being a sovereign nation, and as such, having the right to make its own decisions, as long as they don’t hurt the rest of the world. And it is motivating opposition to any move that might strengthen Iran’s claim to sovereignty. Washington wants what it calls regime change. In plain language, this is that Iran must have a government that Washington approves of.
It must be remembered that the present regime in Tehran rose on the wave of a popular revolt against the brutal Shah, who was kept in power for a long time by support from the United States. Iran was regarded as a virtual colony. This attitude of being an American possession has not changed.
Notions of American right over Iran are strengthened by country’s strategic position. To the west, it has a long border with Iraq. To the east is borders Afghanistan and Pakistan. The aim has been to secure control of these territories, and include Syria in the bundle.
This would bring control over the northern entry into and exit from the Persian Gulf, which could be backed by a major naval presence in the south. With this, would come undisputed control over the region’s oil and gas, alongside a boosted potential to move towards China’s borders in the east and Russia’s towards the north. Washington’s strategy is to cause conflict, because it is only through conflict that this can come about. To achieve this, hostilities must be maintained.
A game plan like this is extremely dangerous. No nation that sees this as a threat, is going to just stand by and watch it happen. A standoff brings the real danger of an arms escalation. Anything that lowers the level of tension and pulls the world away from the potential brink is in the interests of us all.
No matter what opinions have been in the past, today Iran is contributing to this. It is a big ask, considering that it is threatened by a ring of American military bases near its borders. Agreeing to dismantle its nuclear program, when its adversary points nuclear weapons at it, and from point blank range. It takes as lot of courage to move in this direction.
A combination of recognising the overture and self-interest, have prompted Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Russia and China, to embrace the opportunity and take part in the ongoing talks, with or without an American presence
In the deal, Iran winds down its nuclear activities, most of which involve power generation, by 2030, existing sanctions are lifted, and assistance provided to make the transition. Trump has called this deal too one sided, but has not clarified what he means by this.
An immediate effect has been diplomatic isolation of the United States. The world is now waiting for North Korea’s response, and hopes that the consequence of Trump’s action will not inflame the tensions, cause a renewal of the arms race and at worst lead to a war.
Although unhappy with the walkout, Iran has so far chosen not to respond in kind and is pressing ahead to make the agreement stick.