EDITORIAL: Trump drama now moves to Tehran

BANGKOK (The Nation/ANN) - The EU must not give in to US pressure and must stand by its companies doing business in Iran.

To call it arrogance would be an understatement when one talks about US President Donald Trump’s recent threat on how he would punish US trading partners who do business with Iran.
“Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!”
The statement came after his administration reimposed blanket sanctions on Iran because he wants to scrap the nuclear deal that the country achieved along with other members of the international community.
Trump described the new sanctions “the most biting ever imposed”.
As expected, the new round of sanctions caused jitters in the global market. But the European Union doesn’t want any of Trump’s shenanigans.
The EU has vowed to protect firms doing legitimate business in Iran. It has instructed its companies to ignore Trump’s rant and added that those who decide to pull out because of US sanctions face the risk of being sued by EU member states.
The Trump administration said it was not particularly concerned by the EU decision. But is that a way to treat longstanding allies?
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will have to do more than just dismiss Trump’s threat as “psychological warfare” designed to help his party in the upcoming mid-term elections.
While that may have some truth to it, the return of sanctions will definitely add to the sense of anguish in Iranian society.
Already, German businesses are “in retreat” from Iran amid concerns that banking channels will crumble under US pressure.
“It’s important that the EU and the German government work to find funding channels,” said Martin Wansleben from the German Chamber of Commerce in Iran.
Overcoming this period of hardship will depend on how Iran can stave off pressure from the Trump administration. Iran will need support from members of the international community to stay united against Trump.
In the end, the EU must do all it can to counter the uncertainty over the future of European businesses in Iran. The regional bloc was instrumental in working with the Obama administration to achieve this nuclear deal with Iran and it would be unfortunate for the EU to back down now because of bullying from the US president.
The EU must work to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran because it is a matter of international security. It is also about respecting an international agreement. Many people in Iran see Trump’s move as an attempt to push for a regime change. One way to counter this effort, said reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatami, one of the most popular figures inside Iran, is to push for reforms that could bring the country out of the current political deadlock and crisis.
The current crop of Iranian leaders can start with opening up political space for frank discussions about reform and freedom. Khatami’s suggestions include the release of all political prisoners and creating an atmosphere conducive for frank and honest discussion. While Trump has said he is willing to meet with President Rouhani to work on a new and more comprehensive deal, the world has seen this drama before regarding North Korea.
Trump’s cheap ploy seems to be: create a crisis with a lot of rhetoric so he can come to the rescue.
He has no scruples in employing the same tactic with neighbours and allies. Trump imposed a variety of tariffs on Canada and Mexico, citing “national security”. But his real aim is to get these two countries to modify the North America Free Trade Agreement to his terms.

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