Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Sunday, January 26, 2020 07:43:22 AM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Europe Ununited

Over US President Trump's Policy On Iran

  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Save
  • E-mail
  • Print
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Cornella Meyer :
There seems to be no limit to how far tensions in the Arabian Gulf can escalate. Over the last two months, ships have been sabotaged, US and Iranian drones shot down, and Saudi Aramco's east-west pipeline attacked by drones. This all culminated in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps confiscating the oil tanker Stena Impero, which was sailing under the British flag. This was in direct response to the Royal Navy having taken into custody the Iranian Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar on the suspicion that is was transporting oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions against the war-torn country.
The Stena Impero incident got everybody's attention because the Strait of Hormuz is a critical waterway, with 20 percent of global oil production passing through it. The big economies in the East - China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan - in particular depend on oil production in the Arabian Gulf.
Europe has always been at loggerheads with US President Donald Trump's policy of maximum pressure on Iran, which he applied after he unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal last year. The sanctions started to really bite after the US withdrew the waivers from oil sanctions it had granted to eight countries. Europe's attitude to Iran is different from the US. It is near neighbors to the Middle East and its conflicts, and is directly impacted by the waves of refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The last thing European countries therefore want is yet another armed conflict in the Middle East and yet more refugees. This and the desire to adhere to international agreements once they are ratified is the backdrop of the events that have unfolded over the last few months.
Norbert Roettgen, the head of the German Bundestag's Committee on Foreign Affairs, has argued for some time that the UK, France and Germany should cooperate on foreign policy, particularly when it comes to Iran. On the face of it that would make sense, but it is not as easy as it sounds. The UK is about to leave the EU and France and Germany don't quite see eye to eye when it comes to the future direction of the institution. The last weeks have clearly shown how European attitudes to Iran diverge.
Last weekend, the remaining signatories of the JCPOA - the UK, Germany, France, Russia, China and the EU - held a conference in Vienna to discuss what it would take to salvage the agreement.
As of last month, Iran had violated the nuclear deal by surpassing the agreed uranium stockpile and enrichment limits, which was verified by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency. While this is bad news, the Islamic Republic has not yet crossed the red lines sufficiently to have reached the point of no return, according to some experts. The Europeans urged Iran to return to full compliance of the JCPOA. Iran seems open to full inspection.
The meetings in Vienna took place at the vice-ministerial level and were said to be constructive. They will be followed by a ministerial gathering. Iran is eager to find ways of keeping its stuttering economy ticking over and urged the European participants to look into exploring barter trade. China takes a less stringent view when it comes to trading with Iran. Many of its companies have little dealing with the US, as was the case with Zhuhai Zhenrong, an oil trader with links to the Chinese military. China condemned the US for issuing sanctions against the company. Beijing's attitude also has to be seen in the context of the US-China trade dispute. It is possible China will take a firmer view on the US' sanctions on Iran once it has reached a trade agreement with Washington.
As for Europe, the situation is complex. Ideally, the European signatories of the JCPOA would like to resurrect the agreement. However, the capture of the Stena Impero has clouded the picture. Europeans see the need for a military escort of their commercial ships through the Strait of Hormuz. While they may not agree with Trump's policy of maximum pressure, securing the waterway has prime importance for many.
When he was foreign secretary, Boris Johnson made a trip to Washington to try and convince the president to remain in the JCPOA. But that was then. Now he wants to achieve Brexit "do or die" by Oct. 31 and therefore needs Trump as an ally. He has steered away from the recently replaced Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt's attempt to have a European naval alliance escorting European commercial vessels through the strait in order to avoid the policy of maximum pressure. The UK has now asked for a meeting between the US, France and Britain to discuss cooperation. The US has by far the most naval firepower in the region, as its Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain.
The Pentagon issued a request to Germany for it to join its European and American allies, but Berlin has declined. For one, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which governs in coalition with the Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union, is against it. The coalition is already on tenuous footing without added foreign policy pressure. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, of the SPD, questioned the wisdom of getting militarily involved in a region that could see further armed conflict down the road. The German constitution also imposes more stringent peacetime limitations than those of its European counterparts, limiting the options for when the country's armed forces can get involved abroad. Lastly, it is the explicit policy of Germany to try and resurrect the JCPOA.
The Islamic Republic, the Stena Impero incident and the US policy of maximum pressure against Iran demonstrate that achieving a coordinated foreign policy in Europe may not be as easy as it looks.
(Cornelia Meyer is a business consultant, macro-economist and energy expert, writes for Arab News;Twitter: @MeyerResources)

Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

Buildings should have built in fire safety measures

IT is possible to avoid any kind of fire-related incidents by spending only two per cent of the total cost of a building, an internationally renowned Bangladeshi fire safety expert has said. Quoting the expert's comments, The New Nation on Saturday in a report said many big fire incidents are ...

Entertainment »

Disha Patani opens up on working in B’wood

Malang released. From the poster to the trailer, every outing that has been released is receiving immense love for Disha’s skills. The hottest outsider to this industry here tells us what she thought when she was a child in front of a camera! Recalling her journey from being a camera ...

Sports »

Stokes sorry despite 'repeated abuse' - and 'Ed Sheeran reference'

AFP, Johannesburg :England star Ben Stokes apologised Friday for his angry exchange with a fan during the fourth and final Test against South Africa but claimed he was the victim of "repeated abuse".Stokes described his reaction at the Wanderers as "unprofessional".English cricket chiefs, however, claimed staff and players were also ...

Sports »

Federer says, 'epics' keep him motivated after Australian Open thriller

AFP, Melbourne :Roger Federer lives to win titles, but five-set thrillers like his epic against John Millman at the Australian Open are also a key reason why he is still playing aged 38.The Swiss master looked out for the count at 4-8 down in a nailbiting fifth-set super tiebreaker against ...

International »

Virus attack worring China

AP, China  :China's most festive holiday began in the shadow of a worrying new virus Saturday as the death toll surpassed 40, an unprecedented lockdown kept 36 million people from travelling and authorities cancelled a host of Lunar New Year events.The National Health Commission reported a jump in the number ...

International »

258 million kids not in school

AP, United Nations :The U.N. deputy chief said on Friday there is an "alarming" crisis in education, pointing to the 258 million children under the age of 17 who are not going to school - and only 49 percent completing secondary education.In addition, about 770 million adults are illiterate, most ...

Editorial »

Don't put extra burden on Hajj pilgrims’ shoulder

THE Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh and the Religious Affairs Ministry in a chorus criticised the Civil Aviation Ministry for taking proposal to increase airfare for each hajj pilgrim by Tk 12,000 from last year, terming it 'illogical" and "immoral". The HAAB leaders on Thursday at a press conference said ...

International »

Imran Khan calls for UN action over Kashmir dispute

Reuters, Davos :Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan called on Wednesday for the United Nations to help mediate between nuclear armed India and Pakistan over the disputed territory of Kashmir."This is a potential flashpoint," Khan said during a media briefing at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, ...

Entertainment »

Shama Sikander sends her love for India’s Republic Day

India will be celebrating its 70th republic day and it’s an extremely auspicious occasion for us. In 26th January 1950, the constitution came into power and became the largest democracy in the world. Shama Sikander has her thoughts and plans set for this day and let’s go through it. Shama ...

Cricket »

We are confident to beat Pakistan: Mahmudullah

Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah Riyad said they remain upbeat to beat Pakistan in the first T20 International today (Friday) and gain the momentum for the whole series.Having said that, Mahmudullah insisted right at the moment the security matter, which has been the focal point of the series is not in their ...

Football »

Neymar sets up two goals as PSG cruise into League Cup final

Neymar set up the first two goals with curling set pieces as Paris Saint-Germain won their French League Cup semi-final 3-0 away to Reims on a chilly Wednesday night.PSG will face Lyon, who beat Lille on penalties on Tuesday, in the final at the Stade de France on April 4.This ...

Editorial »

Nobody is there to control them

CHHATRA League activists of Dhaka University's Sergeant Zahurul Haq Hall are at it again as they tortured four students for nearly three hours before handing them to police early Tuesday. The BCL men labelled them as Shibir activists and handed them to Shahbagh police around 3:30am in the presence of ...

City »

Chairman of Bangladesh Public Service Commission Dr. Mohammad Sadik, along with other members of the commission paying tributes by placing wreaths on the plaque 'Mrityunjayee' on the premises of the commission on Thursday on retirement of its two members Abul Kalam Azad and Prof. Dr. Shah Abdul Latif.

Entertainment »

Hina Khan learns to smoke for her role in web series, Damaged 2

We’ve heard of actors across the industry going all out when it comes to prepping up for their characters and roles. From Deepika, on getting a particular accent in Chennai Express to Aamir Khan learning how to tap dance for Dhoom 3, actors do everything possible to get into the ...

Editorial »

Govt faces hard time for needless expenditures coupled with corruption

THE Finance Ministry has asked all ministries and divisions not to seek additional fund in the current fiscal year in a signal that the government is tightening its belt amid a revenue shortfall, as per local media reports. The ministry furnished the instruction with regard to the operating and development ...

Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Write a comment to this news