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Trump’s Clever Policies Against Iran

Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, November 7

On the morning of November 5, renewed U.S. sanctions against Iran kicked in and Tehran’s hope for a last-minute miracle that would save it from economic meltdown vanished. The mullahs really hoped that the Khashoggi affair would deflect attention away from their actions and towards those of Saudi Arabia. But as the days went by and implementation day arrived, the Saudis let out a deep sigh of relief just as the Iranians were coming to terms with their misfortune. The new sanctions are terrible news for the mullahs, who fear nothing more than domestic political unrest. Tehran, which is currently the world’s third-largest oil producer, will have its ability to sell product severely limited. In addition, anyone trading with Iran will be prohibited from using American financial institutions or even the U.S. dollar. President Trump repeatedly has spoken out against Iran’s actions, but also left the door open for new negotiations. The Iranian regime, always stubborn, refused to engage. It is unlikely that the sanctions will have an immediate effect on Tehran, as it is not in the Iranian DNA to come crawling to the U.S. begging for forgiveness. However, it seems very plausible that in two years’ time, the regime will find itself in such dire straits that it will have no other choice but to give up its nuclear program. Indeed, Trump was strategic about the implementation of these sanctions. Although many commentators criticized his administration for allowing a few countries to continue importing oil from Iran, this may be a positive thing. First, it provides these nations with more time to adjust to the sanctions and find new trading partners. Otherwise, Trump would have sabotaged the economies of some of the United States’ closest allies. Second, and perhaps more importantly, this gives Iran a taste of what its economy could be like if it relinquishes it atomic ambitions and ballistic missile program. It will serve as a stark reminder to the mullahs and the Iranian people that there is a way out of their crisis, one which involves diplomacy and not force. These are very positive developments for everyone that wishes to see peace in the region. Perhaps, in time, this will happen thanks to Trump’s clever approach to Iran. –Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed