This month’s attack on two Saudi Aramco oil facilities marked a stunning escalation of tensions in the Middle East. The scale, sophistication, and accuracy of the strikes all suggest that Iran most likely conducted them, as both Riyadh and Washington allege.
The strikes represent a surprising and ill-conceived escalation by Iran, just as U.S. President Donald Trump appeared be on the brink of offering concessions as an incentive to return to direct negotiations with the United States. But they also represent a massive, self-inflicted policy failure by the Trump administration, which triggered the crisis in the first place and has since worsened it through diplomatic, rhetorical, and strategic blunders. In his speech at the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday, Trump offered more of the same: the promise of continued economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran, which will do little to reduce tensions deter Iranian aggression.
The White House’s original mistake was its decision in May of last year to walk away from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which was keeping Tehran’s nuclear program in check. For a year after the United States withdrew, Iran remained in the deal and tried to isolate Washington from its partners. This approach met with some success as key European governments, along with Russia and China, sided with Iran and worked to keep it compliant with the nuclear agreement. However, international companies fearing U.S. sanctions quickly withdrew from Iran, eliminating the economic benefits associated with the accord. Meanwhile opponents of the deal argued that their strategy had led to the best of both worlds: an Iran under severe sanctions that was still abiding by its 2015 nuclear commitments.
Read the full article in Foreign Policy.
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