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Trump Needs to Make Strategic Turnaround to Ease Standoff With Tehran

Trump Needs to Make Strategic Turnaround to Ease Standoff With Tehran Trump Needs to Make Strategic Turnaround to Ease Standoff With Tehran

US President Donald Trump needs to make a "swift strategic turnaround", if he truly wants to resolve the current dispute between Iran and the United States, a political analyst said. 
Hossein Mousavian added that in order to ease the present "unnecessary" and "self-imposed" crisis over Iran's 2015 nuclear deal, the US should make a shift in its policies in a way that would allow both countries to "save face". 
"Only then would credible diplomacy become possible once more," he said in an opinion piece recently published by the Guardian. 
The nuclear deal, or formally the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, had been agreed on after 12 years of exhaustive negotiations, but the US unilaterally withdrew from it last year and began to impose new economic and political sanctions, targeting not just various sectors of the Iranian economy, but the state's most influential entities and actors.
It has also dispatched extra troops to the region to counter what it claims as Iranian threats.
The "maximum pressure campaign" is aimed at forcing Iran to negotiate a new deal, as JCPOA was "defective at its core", Trump alleged.  
Iran has refused to renegotiate the deal or conduct any talks with the US while under pressure, opting to respond to its aggressive actions by reducing its commitments under the deal. 
The standoff has created one of the most urgent challenges to peace and security in the Middle East, which needs to be addressed through diplomatic efforts. 
Despite Trump's "phony and rhetorical offers of talk", the imposition of sanctions, along with his other belligerent policies, has all but blocked conventional channels of diplomacy, according to Mousavian. 

 

 

Blocked Channels

Cooperation, he explained, requires dialogue between the countries' respective military establishments in the region, namely the US Central Command (CENTCOM) and Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ Quds Force that are both responsible for extraterritorial operations.
"The IRGC's designation [by the US] as a terrorist organization—and Iran's reciprocation against CENTCOM—has ended the possibility of negotiation between these two extremely influential state entities," he said. 
The Trump administration also imposed sanctions on Iran's highest authority according to the latter’s constitution, namely Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, who determines the general trajectory of the country's foreign policy. 
"By sanctioning [Ayatollah] Ali Khamenei, Trump has effectively killed off any chance of diplomatic rapprochement as long as he is in office," the analyst wrote in his article. 
The US has also talked of levying penalties against Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, one of the most distinguished career diplomats in Iran's recent history. 
Mousavian said sanctioning Zarif is a mistake, if the US ever wants to reengage with Iran, because he is in charge of diplomatic channels that need to remain open to resolve this crisis.
He cited Wendy Sherman, the US chief negotiator in nuclear talks that led to JCPOA, as saying, "I can't think of anything that makes less sense than sanctioning a key person who might actually be helpful if there is ever a dialogue with the US."
Trump single-handedly undid 12 years of intensive negotiations between Iran and world powers by withdrawing from the nuclear deal that was "the most comprehensive agreement in the history of non-proliferation", Mousavian said.
"The Trump administration made a decision to undermine the diplomatic legacy of [former US president Barack] Obama, but it may not have fully understood that in doing so, it would also be obliterating any possibility of brokering its own diplomatic solution," he said. 

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