Trump’s approach to Iran

The Trump administration’s approach is grounded in the history of the US- Iran relationship and the importance of Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Trump grounds the understanding of Iran in the context of the relationship since the Ayatollah’s revolution. That context involves violating the Tehran embassy, blowing up the Beirut embassy and marine barracks, holding diplomats hostage, kidnapping Americans through proxies for weapons and other acts of violence. As former Secretary of State Tillerson told Iranian Minister Jawad Zarif, Iran has been killing Americans and getting away with it. Not anymore.

Second, missing from your analysis is Saudi Arabia. While many Democrats are willing to abandon the Kingdom under the pretext of human rights violations as Obama did, Mr. Trump considers Saudi Arabia a vital ally whom the US will not abandon. Iran has presence or influence in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.  Only Saudi intervention saved Bahrain from Iran’s proxies. Mr. Trump is responsive to Saudi national security concerns. Saudi Arabia sees itself on the defensive facing an aggressive and interventionist Iran.

The way Saudi Arabia and many other Arabs see it, Obama secured Israel’s interests by reigning in Iran’s nuclear ambitions. However, Mr. Obama ended the Iran sanctions and gave it billions with the naive expectation that it would spend  the money on its people. Instead, Iran felt emboldened to continue to project its bloody influence through militias and money in conduct that Obama himself characterized as “stirring the sectarian pot.”

In the Middle East, Mr. Obama saw only Israel. Mr. Trump sees both the interests of Israel and Saudi Arabia as vital to the US and is acting accordingly.


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