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A political science professor David Rigoulet-Roze believes that the latest sanctions against the Iran Supreme Leader, his entourage and eight senior officers of the Corps of Revolutionary Guards are primarily logic of posting intended to constitute a personal affront.

Speaking to ILNA news agency, he added, U.S president does not want a new war; He was even elected on the electoral promise to end the wars in which the United States has been engaged in the last two decades, or even to withdraw from the Middle East, whose strategic value has been diminished since the United States was re-elected.


Below is his full interview with ILNA:

Q: How do you see U.S.-Iran relationship generally?

A: They have never been good since the Iranian revolution that overthrows the pro American Shah in January 1979, followed by the advent of the Islamic Republic on April 1, 1979. Compared to Iran, there is an original American sin with the August 1953 "Operation TPAJAX" orchestrated by the CIA, which provokes the overthrow of the nationalist Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh.

However, this original American sin has, for Washington, its counterpart on the Iranian side with the taking hostage during 444 days of the members of the American embassy in Tehran. There is in some way a passional dimension that embolises the entire Iranian-American relationship since then, even if this relationship between the two countries has known different phases, alternating moments of tension and moments of relaxation, all relative. From this point of view, the two presidential terms, but especially the second mandate, of Barack Obama (November 2012-January 2017) are associated to a phase of improvement concretized by the signature, after bitter negotiations, of the famous JCPOA the July 14, 2015. This unpublished phase succeeded George W. Bush's "neo-conservative" sequence, the originator of the "Axis of Evil" formula used on January 29, 2002 during a speech by the US President Bush son on the state of the Union, associating Iraq, Iran and North Korea. And it preceded the sequence "neo-isolationist" - paradoxically except on Iran - President Donald Trump conspiring the "worst agreement ever signed" by talking about the JCPOA, which he decided to exit unilaterally on May 8, 2018.


Q: How do you assess the new US sanctions against Iran?

A: The latest sanctions against the Iran Supreme Leader, his entourage and eight senior officers of the Corps of Revolutionary Guards are primarily logic of posting intended to constitute a personal affront. This fits into the fundamentally unique logic of Donald Trump who always wants to personalize conflicts. This refers directly to his book The Art of Deal, published in 1987, in which he conceives international affairs from the exclusive angle of a commercial negotiation between two protagonists. This is how he conceived of the negotiation with Kim Jung-Il, the master of North Korea, who was first nicknamed Rocket-man before "declaring his love" at a meeting in Wheeling in West Virginia in September 2018. But the situation is much more complex in the case of Iran.

That is to say that, under these conditions, the interpersonal “Trumpist Model” is not really operative, which gives rise to a form of incomprehension from the principal concerned. The American president is not a chess player. But this disadvantage is also in the other direction because Tehran sometimes has trouble identifying the character and what he really seeks to obtain. A "dialogue of the deaf" in a way, Washington deploring on June 25, 2019 by the voice of John Bolton a "deafening silence" of Tehran in front of what is presented as offers of negotiations


Q: What is the reason behind Tramp's backwardness in the war with Iran?

Trump does not want a new war. He said it many times. He was even elected on the electoral promise to end the wars in which the United States has been engaged in the last two decades, or even to withdraw from the Middle East, whose strategic value has been diminished since the United States was re-elected. -became "the world's leading oil producer thanks to Shale oil". The fact that there are hawks around him like National Security Advisor John Bolton or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo does not change his deep conviction. He does not like wars unless they are commercial. We see it with the conflict with China. And in a certain sense the logic of "maximum pressure", of which economic sanctions constitute the privileged instrument, is a form of commercial war for him. It is therefore not easy to interpret his decision to give up at the last moment to hit targets in Iran in retaliation for the drone RQ-4 Global Hawk shot on June 20, 2019 by the DCA of the Revolutionary Guards. He mentioned that he had magnanimously taken into account the risk of loss of life estimated at 150 potential victims according to his military advisers, considering that the answer would have been "disproportionate" for a drone as expensive as it is. One might think that the fact that the drone may have been shot down in Iranian airspace despite American denials is not necessarily foreign to this presidential decision either. Hence the choice to return to logic of sanctions reinforced on June 25 following and now "personalized" against the most important officials of the Islamic Republic. The problem lies in the questioning that remains once the full range of possible sanctions is exhausted because a slippage can never be ruled out that would transform it is still a commercial war at all war.


Q: What is your solution to calming down current tensions? What is your solution to Iran in the current situation? Why Europe like England obey of U.S.?

A: There is no simple solution for such a complex problem. It would be a matter of privileging a form of diplomacy, even secret as it was the case at other times and for reasons of interest. The ideal would obviously be to clear the litigation that would push the two parties to "regret" at least the original sins to perform a kind of "conversion" behavioral in order to negotiate without being parasitized by this liability. But we are unfortunately very far from each other. In the absence of anything else, the urgency would be to put in place a mechanism of "deconflixion" as exists elsewhere in the region to avoid any uncontrolled slippage that would lead to a disastrous situation. There are some channels of communication but they are not structurally established and leave a dangerous part to the accident. The European Union, often stigmatized rightly or wrongly for its weakness, also has a significant role to play that goes beyond the strict framework of INSTEX, because Iran does not always see that only the Europeans demonstrate a certain objective understanding of Tehran, which, for its part, refuses to consider that Europeans have a very limited margin of maneuver due to the extraterritoriality of US law and that they have not so not hand on the current process. Even the British, yet the most loyal allies of the United States, opted for a common European position which was far from self-evident at the time of the Brexit. On the other hand, the "friends" declared and /or supposed like Russia or China - other signatories of the JCPOA - have interests that are far from overlapping those of Iran (Iran is a potential gas rival for Russia and China has growing oil relations with Saudi Arabia and at the expense of Iran precisely). These two powers often give themselves the good role but, paradoxically, do not show for all that an overflowing spirit to ensure the survival of the JCPOA. It's an understatement.


Q: Who is the blame for the current crisis?

A: In such a case, the wrongs are always shared, each encapsulating an uncompromising position of principle, although it is clear that Trump's unilateral and brutal decision to step out of the JCPOA and its "maximum pressure" strategy has largely contributed to the deterioration of the current situation. From now on, it becomes more and more difficult to "raison garder" in French as it is true that one is on a dangerous ridge where the situation can switch from one side or the other even in a non-deliberate way. This is unfortunately inherent in logic of gearing which it would be appropriate to leave urgently leaving each party the opportunity to spare appearances; But according to the Latin adage, vanitatum omnia vanitatum. That's the problem. The challenge would be to be smart for two and that goes for both parties. This would be the only way out of this impasse from above.


Q: Should Iran trust the United States?

A: The question of trust is not really about geopolitics. "States have no friends, they have only interests" according to the famous formula of General de Gaulle, although some states can still maintain relations of elective affinity based on a community of values. In the present case, the real question is to determine precisely what each one really wants the other in order to remove mortgages for a possible negotiation which appears in any case more than ever indispensable. In this case, Tehran would have to admit that the JCPOA's sunset clauses by 2025 is not trivial for the US administration and its regional allies, and on the other hand, Washington must take into account the problem of the security interests of Iran, which has long had an obsidional feeling because of threats to its borders. The challenge lies in the respective good faith of the main stakeholders.


David Rigoulet-Roze is political science professor. He has PhD in Political Science, University of Toulouse-Capitole and expertise in country such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Persian Gulf countries.



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