Middle East Crisis: Entrapped by Trump, EU’s Faced with Prospect of New Iran Sanctions

Written by | Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

The European Union plans emergency meeting after Iran said it would scrap limits on enriching uranium, following the assassination of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in a US drone attack. With the substance of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with six major powers slowly disappearing, EU’s major countries will discuss in the coming days whether to launch a dispute resolution process over Tehran’s latest violations. The US attack heightened already heated tensions between Washington and Tehran after US President Donald Trump withdrew the nuclear deal last year and imposed punishing sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
“We aren’t at war, but if we don’t mobilize to reduce tensions then the risk of war is there,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Monday (6 January). “There is always room for diplomacy.” Launching a dispute resolution process could eventually lead to renewed UN sanctions on Tehran. France, which has led efforts to defuse tensions between Iran and the United States, would like to see both powers returning to the negotiating table. Warning Iran against carrying out responses that could escalate the situation, the French minister also noted that the Soleimani was not a “choir boy”, was on the US and EU terrorism lists, and had been ‘appointed’ by Iran’s supreme leader to carry out destabilizing acts across the entire Middle East.
In light to these fast-unfolding dramatic developments, Europe is once again helplessly standing by and watching, not really being able to influence the situation on the ground. Europe is again suffering under Donald Trump’s erratic behavior when he makes political decisions without consulting his closest allies. The only option left for Brussels may be for it to appeal to Tehran’s interest in self-preservation. Feeble and helpless Europe has, as usual, resorted to joint statements, in which it calls for de-escalation after their, what used to be a key ally, has just done everything it could to escalate the situation. Uninformed and powerless, ‘Geopolitical Europe’, to use the term coined by the new Commission, must once again suffer the consequences from the US president’s spontaneous unilateral decisions. Brussels is caught in the Trump’s trap and cannot start ‘flying’ on its own.

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