Trump: Falcon or Dove?
Al-Jazirah, Saudi Arabia, September 27
[US] President [Donald] Trump believed that the suffocating blockade he imposed on Iran would force it to rush back to Washington, respond to all American demands and sign a new nuclear agreement with the United States. But Trump obviously did not take into account the fact that the partners of the Obama nuclear deal – namely, Russia, China and the Europeans – were not happy with his withdrawal from the agreement and did not want to escalate things again with Iran. During the presidential elections, Trump was confident that Iran would not dare provoke him. He therefore was very surprised when Tehran blew up oil tankers. He then completely lost his balance when Tehran dared to shoot down an American drone. All of this made him flounder in his statements. He even thanked Tehran for not shooting down an American plane carrying US military personnel! This behavior is incompatible with Trump’s impression of himself as a strong and courageous leader, not as weak as his predecessor, Barack Obama! I see no issue in Trump’s decision to dismiss his national security adviser, John Bolton, as a reaction to Iran’s provocative behavior, which embarrassed him before the world and made him appear weaker than Obama. The idea of an unprecedented blockade on Iran was the opinion promoted by the hawkish Bolton, who believed that the only way forward with Iran would be to wait until after the mullahs are toppled. Trump has promised his constituents not to go to war under the pretext of “America first.” He also fears that if he strikes Iran, even if it is limited and surgical, the latter would ignite the region with an all-out war that could cause him to lose his battle. What Trump is currently focusing on is one thing, and one thing only: his reelection campaign. What we are witnessing in the past few weeks is Trump’s decision to temporarily turn into a dove. However, once the reelection battle ends, Trump may again adopt his militant rhetoric and turn himself back into a falcon chasing the Iranian regime. – Ahmad al-Faraj (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)