Washington D.C. – Donald Trump will make a highly anticipated decision this month that could send shockwaves throughout all aspects of foreign policy, trade, and diplomatic relations.
Many pundits expect Trump to entirely decertify the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) aka Iran Nuclear Deal and possibly even designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization.
An act of war requested by Congress
Designating a legitimate country’s military is both uncharted territory for the United States and a blatantly hostile move to even casual observers.
Donald Trump didn’t come to this conclusion on his own. While it’s true he holds the final decision, by designating the IRGC a terror group Trump is merely going along with a request from Congress. On July 27th, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly voted for increased sanctions against Iran through the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. Only Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders voted against the act.
Trump did indeed sign the act which requested implementing sanctions against the IRGC and Quds Force. The bill blatantly listed both entities as supporters of international terrorism and instability.
Now, Trump and his advisors have a decision to make: how far should we take this?
Will the United States effectively declare war against Iran this month? Or will Trump back-down citing “national security concerns?”
Disaster for Foreign Policy
Iran is not taking Trump’s rhetoric lightly. Iranian officials have already asserted that if blacklisted, the IRGC will, in turn, treat U.S. troops as terror entities as well. Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami reiterated that on the contrary, Iran is at the forefront of fighting terror. Indeed, Iran and their allies throughout the region are the only groups efficiently eliminating groups like Daesh and the like.
This move would send shockwaves throughout every country with U.S. bases and military operations. The three most obvious are, of course, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. Without Iranian assistance and support, Mosul and other recently liberated portions of Iraq would likely still be under ISIS control.
Now, the United States has increased their presence in Afghanistan (again). Considering Iran shares a rather large border with Afghanistan, this could put U.S. troops right on Iran’s doorstep and potentially unleash a direct military confrontation between the two world powers.
As the U.S. loses in Syria, what will be their next move? Preparing for a direct confrontation with Iranian or Russian troops is the most obvious option. Here, various Iranian-supported militias also participated eliminating IS control. As IS and other groups lose territory, a confrontation between U.S., Russian, Syrian, and Iranian troops is almost inevitable.
This act of war could also send ripples through Lebanon. As Hezbollah is a legitimate political party, the so-called terror group indirectly receives U.S. military assistance through their support for the Lebanese Army.
Since the United States seems to consider Ansarullah in Yemen (the Houthis) as an Iranian-proxy, will this also change the course of U.S. involvement in Yemen?
Disintegrating Relations with other Western Allies
Other western nations including most of the European Union and other NATO members don’t want hostile policies towards Iran. Since lifting sanctions after the signing of the JCPOA, many countries have forged strong economic relationships with Iran.
The U.K. also eyes $600 billion boom with Iran over the next decade including trade and investment towards Iran’s infrastructure.
The U.S. tries to portray the JCPOA as an agreement between U.S. and Iran. However, Iran, the U.S., France, Germany, the U.K., Russia, and China all worked to broker the deal. The European Union including France and Germany have reiterated that Iran is in full compliance with the nuclear deal. In fact, the only entity of the JCPOA claiming such is the United States.
Dominant neoliberal trade policies throughout Europe are apparently clashing with the Trump regime’s strategy focused on military force. It is also clear that the U.S. considers Iran a viable threat to their economic security.
Only one question remains: will Europe side with Iran if Trump decertifies the nuclear deal out of desperation? It sure seems that way.
What About Turkey?
The elephant in the room that no one seems to be talking about: growing cooperation between Iran and Turkey.
Over the past few weeks, the U.S. and Turkey engaged in some passive-aggressive behavior. Turkish authorities arrested a U.S. diplomatic staff member along with 40 suspected coup-plotters. This prompted the U.S. to suspend issuing visas to non-immigrant Turkish citizens.
Just days ago, Turkey and Iran finalized a currency-swap deal to cut dependence on the U.S. Dollar or Euro. The two countries also agreed to bilateral trade advancements. Both countries also plan on increasing military cooperation.
Tehran and Ankara issued a statement yesterday validating their commitment to long-term diplomatic cooperation. Significant points of interest included Syria and Iraq. Of course, both Iran and Turkey remained opposed to the recent Kurdish independence referendum where they see potential for regional conflict.
In Syria, Turkey increasingly finds themselves at odds with their NATO ally who supports the Kurdish-led SDF. Unlike the U.S., Ankara considers Kurdish influence to be the lesser of two evils when forced to choose between the Kurds and Bashar al-Assad. In the recent statement, Tehran and Ankara agreed they could work out any differences diplomatically.
And one can’t forget Turkey’s recent military arms deal with Moscow.
So how will the United States react to this rogue NATO member? With the E.U. on Iran’s side along with Turkey, it seems like the only rogue NATO member when it comes to the nuclear deal is, in fact, the United States.
U.S. hostile posturing towards Iran proves their grip on global power is at risk.
The United States knows that an economically viable Iran poses a significant threat. They also know that Iran’s influence throughout the Middle East region is growing.
The European Union’s willingness to cooperate with Iran stands in stark contrast to the United States’ harsh military rhetoric. As more and more trade partners jump over to the opposing bloc including Iran, Russia, and China, the U.S. will continue to respond with hostile moves like a spoiled child.
Now, we wait to see how far the U.S. is willing to take this. Will Trump go along with Congress’s wishes to decertify the nuclear deal and designate Iran’s military as a terror group? Or will he make the right decision and give-up?
Also published on Medium.