Donald Trump lives obsessed with dismantling the achievements of his predecessor, but every time he tries, it ends up clashing with a stubborn reality, and with each attempt, the legacy of Barack Obama, considered lukewarm by many, emerges more relevant. While he continues the battle to dismantle Obama’s health care law or leave the “Dreamers”* unprotected, those children of immigrants who have spent most of their lives in the United States, Trump also opens up a new front with Iran, rejecting the agreement that in 2015 slowed down its nuclear arms race.
The one who during the campaign defined it as “the worst agreement ever negotiated,” returns to the limelight to disturb the global concern about a new nuclear escalation. Why break with Iran now? In principle, there is no evidence that Iran is not doing its part. Except for some reluctance to review some military facilities where the ayatollah’s regime ensures that there is neither nuclear material nor activity, there is nothing to suggest that Iran continues its escalation. But Trump believes that the sanctions that were removed are not justified by the steps taken by the government in Tehran, and that, in the shadow of the agreement, Iran is advancing in the Middle East.
Indeed, the influence and involvement of Iran in support of Bashar Assad’s Syrian Army, Shiite militias in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon or the Shiite minority in Yemen, reveal that the map of the Middle East – perhaps the most complex in the world – not only has a relevant role but that there is hardly a way out of one of these conflicts without considering the voices coming from Tehran.
But bearing in mind that all of these fronts were in progress when the agreement was reached, what is the point of new hostile winds now? Despite Trump being very skeptical of Saudi Arabia, Iran’s main rival for control of the Middle East, since he arrived at the White House the influence of the Emirates and Israel on his political consultants, and particularly his son-in-law Jared Kushner, have been taking a toll on the president, pushing him to simplify the equation and point to Iran as the only enemy in the most troubled region in the world.
A First Step
We live in fluid times where the first world power is not alone anymore; perhaps that saves us. The nuclear agreement with Iran not only commits the United States, but was also signed by Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain. If only because it would be difficult to reinstate sanctions without the support of the European countries, Trump has only taken the first step of rejecting the agreement and instead sending Congress a combative message, tasking it with the responsibility of restoring sanctions.
In a moment of confrontation within its own ranks, a meeting of the minds may suffice before proceeding. Republicans are traditionally hostile to Iran and to such multilateral agreements. There’s nothing better than a good enemy to restore lost support, even at the cost of opening an inactive front in the heart of the most troubled region of the world.
*Editor’s note: The appropriate description for young immigrants in the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program is DACA recipients. The DREAM Act was a federal proposal similar to DACA that was never approved by Congress.