Analysis: In the middle east, Trump pushes shared concerns about Iran

JERUSALEM – As he hopscotches through the Middle East, President Donald Trump is at the insistence of Israel and its Arab neighbors to unite around a “common cause”: their deep mistrust of Iran.

Trump’s first trip abroad has highlighted the extent to which noisy opposition against Iran now serves as an organizing principle in his efforts to remake America’s relationship with the Middle East.

He leaned heavily on the concerns about iran’s destabilizing activities in the region during his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, Tehran, a big enemy. During meetings Monday in Israel, which considers Iran the greatest threat, Trump said Arab nations’ own concerns about Tehran may eventually lead to a new regional support for the Middle East peace deal.

“There is a growing awareness among your Arab neighbours that they have common cause with you in the threat posed by Iran,” Trump said as he opened the talks with the Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But it is unclear how thoroughly He has thought, what are anti-Iran policy will look like in practice. It will force him to fulfill his promise to unravel President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran? How will his support for the anti-Iran allies in the Middle East square with its relationships with allies who also signed the deal? Has had together with the saudis about Iran mean that the USA will automatically have the kingdom unilaterally the proxy Sunni-Shiite fighting in the Middle East?

Jon Alterman, senior vice-president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that Iran is willing to interfere in the Middle East also required Trump to consider this: “How can you escape a dynamic in which Iran continues to do this cheap, asymmetrical things that force you to do expensive things?”

When Obama struggled with these questions, he landed firmly in the other camp. Obama pushed the saudis to “parts of the district” instead of fighting for the influence in a destabilising cycle of proxy conflicts. Pointing to the war in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, he warned that stoking the divisions may ultimately mean that the force of the US to intervene.

The telling of the allies of Iran is the source of problems “would mean that we need to start coming in and the use of our military power to settle scores. And that would be in the interest of neither the United States nor of the Middle East,” Obama told The Atlantic last year, explaining his policy.

That approach — and the diplomacy and the nuclear agreement it spawned — did little to endear Obama to the leaders in Israel or Saudi Arabia. Trump seemed to have learned from this lesson. On Monday, he was showered with praise for Netanyahu.

“I want to let you know how happy we can be the change in Us policy on Iran,” the prime minister said.

Another plus is yet to bring about the nature of the change of America’s Iran policy, which he promised as a candidate, when he declared that Obama’s nuclear agreement was “the largest deal ever negotiated.” He repeatedly promised that if elected, he would withdraw or to negotiate the deal.

Four months in Trump’s tenure, the nuclear deal is intact. The State Department has informed Congress that Iran is the compliance of the agreement. And last week, the Trump of directors to extend the sanctions relief Iran received as part of the deal.

Trump has a hard line on Iran’s ballistic missile program if Washington fears it could focus on the American interests in the Middle East. On the same day Trump comprehensive sanctions relief under the nuclear agreement, he levied new sanctions for the missile program.

In Saudi Arabia, and Israel, leaders appeared entirely unconcerned by Trump is the continuation of the nuclear deal, apparently convinced that the president’s tough talk, will eventually be backed up with the action.

The tensions with Iran that Trump is tapping in his first trip abroad deeply.

Gulf Arab countries that have for a long time are suspicious about Iran, the United Arab Emirates’ long-running dispute over Tehran where several Persian Gulf islands in 1971 to Bahrain, the simmering anger about the 1981 coup attempt, however, the debt on the newly formed Islamic Republic.

The Obama administration’s nuclear negotiations are further fanned Gulf states’ concerns about Iran’s regional intentions, especially if it is backed Shiite militias to fight the group Islamic State in Iraq and supports the government of the controversial Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Israel, meanwhile, has long been alarmed by the Iranian calls for the destruction of Iran and the development of long-range missiles capable of hitting Israel and Iran is pursuing its nuclear program. Netanyahu was one of the fiercest critics of the nuclear deal, arguing that it would not prevent Iran from developing a nuclear arsenal and ignored Tehran other provocative behavior.

Israel is especially concerned about Iran’s rising influence in the Middle East, in particular his involvement in the civil war in neighboring Syria. Iran has sent troops and weapons to Syria, and the proxy militia Hezbollah has also sent troops to fight alongside Syrian government troops.


Editor’S NOTE — Julie Pace has covered the White House and politics since 2007. Follow her on


Associated Press writers Josef Federman in Jerusalem and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.

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