URGENT / IRAN – Trump blows hot and cold in the Persian Gulf

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Trump might be on the verge in keeping one of his campaign promises and shatter the Iran deal signed by the Obama administration. On Thursday, the US Senate passed new sanctions aiming at persons and entities involved in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards for their support of recent ballistic missile tests.

The vote in the Senate passed with 92 for and 2 against. The rejections came from the former Democratic and Republican candidates in the 2016 campaign, Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul respectively.

There seems to be a surprising cohesion in the current US government in mounting the pressure on Iran as lawmakers from both parties agreed that Iran is the foremost supporter of terrorism and has toppled several Western allied governments in the region.

The issue is likely not the missile tests or the fact that Iranian allied militias fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and to a lesser degree in Syria, but the resilience of the Houthis in Yemen supported by Iran. The Saudi-led and Western endorsed campaign has launched attacks on both military and civilian infrastructure, introduced famine and most recently caused the outbreak of cholera, but there have been few advances on the ground.

Moreover, Iran has deepened its relations with the newly isolated Qatar.

Amid the blockade on the Gulf monarchy, both Iran and the European Union have tried to fill the gap caused by the Saudis and several other Arab countries cutting their relations. The US, fearful of losing its influence, reacted with the signing of a defence deal worth 12 billion during the Qatari defence minister’s visit to the State department. This includes the sale of 36 F-15 aircraft to the country, which Trump recently stated is funding “radical ideology”. This recent shift of US policy could mean the beginning of the end of Qatar’s isolation and a backtrack by the Saudis.

However, could Iran again be the target of economic warfare by the West?  How much is the weakening of Iran worth to the US? How far is the US willing to go to undermine Iran’s foreign policy?

And, of course… What’s the plan of Donald Trump, blowing hot and cold in a such way?

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Noel Daniel Vig

Political Scientist-Director of The Maghreb and Orient Courier Editions

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