Former British diplomat, founder and director of the Beirut-based Conflicts Forum.
Iran’s calculus implicit in its messaging is that Trump does not want a war, and Iran does not want war either; but to avoid ‘war’, Trump needs to respect Iran’s ‘red lines’. In short, he must react ‘rationally’, and distance himself from Bolton.
Mostly, Trump acts in foreign policy as a New York real-estate mogul, with care only for ‘the deal’ and his image, and with zero emotional or moral engagement. But is this so for Iran?
Has Trump convinced himself that the Administration’s wider bluster is actually winning: Making America Great Again? On this question, hangs our joint futures.
Iran will not necessarily look for escalation: to wriggle through will be to win a major symbolic victory. But if it is pushed to the limit, Iran likely will first respond by pushing back in the region and in Afghanistan against US interests.
Trump’s instincts still remain that a channel with Mr Putin is essential. But the demonization of Russia will not be stilled with the publication of the Mueller investigation. It will just swap to a new narrative.
The Gulf grandees have a right to be edgy, Alastair Crooke writes. They can see that Trump’s ‘war hawks’ are intent on cornering, pressurising and provoking Iran.
Is not the stand-off taking place within the EU somehow a re-run of the struggles that were precisely opposed to the notion of an European Empire imposing its rigid ‘Lex Europa’ over diverse peoples, by a centralized and aloof, authority?
‘The West’ is no longer the West. There is the belligerent ‘West’ of Trump, Pence, Bolton and Pompeo – and this is the ‘West’ that is incrementally losing traction across the Middle East, and beyond.
Wherever Pompeo travels on his journeys through the region, he cannot fail but to notice that US policies – and the constancy of such policies – are not trusted.
The deep sense of growing inequalities is matched only by popular fears of community ‘safety-nets’ that have been dismantled, and of the insecurity of living perpetually at the cusp of economic extinction.