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Can Trump conclude a “deal of the century” with Tehran?

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Washington must understand what positive consequences await it if it establishes diplomatic relations with Iran.

On August 13, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with representatives of the Hussites in Tehran, which was a sign of strengthening ties between Iran and the Hussites.

Since the outbreak of the civil war in Yemen in 2015, Iran has kept them at arm’s length, but recent disagreements within the Saudi coalition and the success of the Hussites in Yemen have changed the situation.

Yemen is not the only unstable state in the region where Iranians have significant influence. From Beirut to Kabul, Iran has managed to become a significant player. That is why now more than ever it is important that the United States ceases to quarrel with Iran and establish high-level diplomatic relations in order to stabilize the region and so that the United States can end this war forever.

The nuclear deal and the need to reduce tensions in the Persian Gulf should be only the beginning of the process, not the goal.

In the end, Iran’s regional role is crucial for the United States to withdraw from the region and pay attention to more important world-class affairs that are most directly related to their real interests.

Iran’s growing role

In Syria, the dictator Bashar Assad remains in power with the support of Russia and Iran, despite the fact that he is unable to secure the country through the presence of foreign troops and rebels. In fact, Iran began to study economic opportunities in Syria. Instead of negotiating with key players, the Trump administration continues to work with a limited number of allies, only expanding their positions in Syria.

A final example is the Washington-Turkish agreement to create a safe zone. The impasse in which the US opposes the goals of Russia and Iran is not only a problem for the Syrian people: it plunges the United States into endless and meaningless military maneuvers.

And in Afghanistan, the Trump administration may soon conclude an agreement with the Taliban that will allow the United States to reduce its presence in the country after 18 years of hostilities. Nevertheless, Iran also negotiated with the Taliban, becoming Afghanistan’s largest trading partner in 2018.

The economic ties between the two countries were so significant that the Trump administration imposed sanctions on the Iranian port in Chabahar, given its economic importance to Afghanistan.

In general, Iran has always effectively defended its regional interests, whether they concerned influence on Shiite militias and economic ties in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon, or cultural and historical ties in Afghanistan.

The key question is: how does the Trump administration intend to continue to isolate Iran and perform its maneuvers around it.

When the Obama administration struck a nuclear deal in 2015, the nuclear issue with Iran was resolved. These diplomatic ties between Washington and Tehran resulting from the negotiations have been unheard of since the Iranian revolution of 1979. In the end, it was they who allowed the release of American sailors in January 2016.

However, the Obama administration felt that political spending in Washington, whose the status quo was based on anti-Iranian hysteria, were too big. Going forward was harder than you might have imagined.

The nuclear deal was the end result: the United States imposed sanctions on procurement assistance for Iran’s missile program, weapons were sold to Saudi Arabia for its catastrophic war in Yemen, Congress extended the sanctions law against Iran for 9 years. Obviously, diplomatic capital was used for domestic purposes.

With the election of President Donald Trump, the appointment of John Bolton to the post of adviser to the President of the United States on national security and the subsequent campaign of “maximum pressure” against Iran, the dream of improving relations between Tehran and Washington has long evaporated. Nevertheless, the United States and Iran still need high-level diplomacy to reduce tensions not only among themselves, but also in the Middle East.

And tensions between the US and Iran are now more than ever. The Trump Administration stands for the U.S. Navy coalition in the Persian Gulf. Iran and the United States shot down each other’s drones.

Opportunities for diplomatic negotiations are now closed, as sanctions have been imposed against Zarif, Iran’s chief diplomat. In any case, Iran has more leverage in the region. This will prevent a war, especially in the case of Syria and Lebanon, where Hezbollah has entrenched, which can respond in the event of an attack on Iran.

Meanwhile, the “maximum pressure” campaign of the Trump administration led to unpleasant consequences not only among European allies, disappointed in withdrawing from a nuclear deal with Iran, but also in the Middle East. The UAE responded to Iran’s alleged attack on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and sent officials to Tehran to conduct maritime security negotiations, for the first time since 2013.

US allies do not want to be side figures in the Middle East war. Instead of short-sightedly celebrating arms sales, Washington should develop regional diplomacy and broaden security in the Persian Gulf to reduce tensions.

Iran’s regional leverage does not mean that Tehran is doing well. For example, Iraqis question the influence of Shiite militants supported by Iran, Assad remains at a standstill, as Iran’s partners in Syria – Turkey and Russia – are pursuing their own interests, and sanctions are taking their toll.

Nevertheless, Iran’s isolation plan weakens Iran’s civil society and democratic movement, leaving Iran’s influence in the region intact. It is inefficient. The United States could continue to work with a limited number of regional allies to maneuver around Iran. But ultimately, it will be an agreement or a series of agreements with Iran, which will actually force the United States to turn the page in several directions at once.

If President Trump or the future administration is serious about avoiding a new war and putting an end to current regional commitments, he must not just make a nuclear deal with Iran. Washington needs to understand the positive consequences that await it after the development of diplomatic relations.

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