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Trump quits Iran nuclear deal

May 09,2018 - Last updated at May 09,2018

As feared, US President Donald Trump ended the worldwide state of suspense by his decision on Tuesday to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. Until the very last minute, there were hopes that the US president might heed persistent advice from his European allies to keep the deal, but that hope is now dashed. Voices against cancellation were loud and clear. European leaders travelled to Washington to appeal to Mr Trump to reconsider, delay or agree to fresh negotiations to address any possible deal imperfections. Europeans, as well as many others worldwide, have been relentless in expressing deepest concern as to the dangerous consequences of cancelling a deal that they strongly felt did help promote stability in the turbulent region of the Middle East. They warned that cancellation might once again lead to a nuclear arms race in the region, strained relations and possibly war.

Can a fragile region such as the Middle East cope with a fresh crisis on top of what is already happening; major wars in Yemen, Syria and Libya? Was it a bad idea to keep a deal that did place assured restrictions on Iran not to pursue any previous plans, if any, for manufacturing nuclear weapons? Was it not visibly constructive to lift years-long sanctions on Iran so that the Iranian people could also reap the benefits of orderly international relations and feel part of the peace-loving world?

For those who oppose the cancellation of the deal, the dangers and the horrifying consequences are very clear. What are not clear are any possible benefits. The sole argument in favour of cancellation, often pushed by Israel, is that the nuclear agreement would enable Iran to develop nuclear weapons. This is self-defeating. The agreement was specifically designed to prevent such a possibility. The UN Security Council permanent members, including the United States, in addition to Germany, have negotiated painstakingly and patiently to block any such possibility. Additionally, President Trump was offered European support if he wanted to improve or update the deal’s terms. But all this seems to have met a deaf ear in Washington.

Now, the US president is plunging the region, in fact the whole world, into a fresh crisis. It is too early to imagine the magnitude and the many complications of the post-deal situation, particularly if American withdrawal would reinstate the Iran sanctions: on the economy, on petrol prices, on security, on feeding hatred, on generating new waves of extremism and desperation and possibly on precipitating fresh confrontations. 

Except for the government of Benjamin Netanyahu and some Arab states, not many others have reason to rejoice at the Trump withdrawal decision. Most of the rest of the world is actually alarmed by the development. 

Israel has been targeting the Iran deal as well as expressing concern about the Iranian threat for decades. Iran is blamed for arming, financing and supporting Hizbullah on Israel’s northern border. Now with the Iranian presence in Syria, the situation is further aggravated, as that will bring them, with Hizbullah fighters with them, right to Israel’s eastern border, and it will also facilitate Iranian arms shipment to Hizbullah. Israel also abhors Iranian support for other Palestinian resistance groups generally labeled as terrorists. 

Arab states are equally alarmed by Iranian expanding presence in a number of Arab countries. They also see that as a serious threat to their security. 

But neither the US, nor the European powers were oblivious to such Israeli and Arab concerns. In fact, the Europeans’ quest for renegotiating the deal’s terms aimed specifically to address Iranian ballistic missiles as well as Iranian expanded spheres of influence in parts of the region.

If that would have been achievable under the deal, it is going to be much more difficult without it. 

We must acknowledge that Iranian expansion in the region in its various forms was the direct outcome of preceding blunders committed by the same powers that complain about it now. 

Hizbullah appeared in the early 1980’s right after, and as a direct result of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the occupation of the Lebanese capital of Beirut in 1982. The Iranian expansion into Iraq was facilitated, indeed desired, following the US led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the collapse of the Iraqi state. Iraq is yet to recover from that disaster. 

In Syria, the situation is hardly different. The Iranians were invited there by the official Syrian government, a UN member state, which found itself threatened by countless foreign forces and terrorist groups armed and pushed into the country by many regional and world powers which openly sought regime change, in the same manner as in Iraq 15 years earlier. 

The same can be said about other parts in the region, where war and perpetual chaos sucked all kinds of foreign intervention. 

Obviously, such situations are abnormal and should be corrected. But the prescription that caused the chaos could not be the one that ends it. What seems to be happening now is addressing the serious problems that threatens every one in the region, and beyond, by committing similar blunders. 

The timing of the deal cancellation could not be worse, coming while preparations are underway to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem in few days. On top of all odds and flagrant legal implications of the embassy relocation, it will deepen the pain of the Arab and Muslim people, who would otherwise expect understanding and consideration with respect to this sensitive matter particularly. 

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