“Iran’s fate with the sanctions is precarious because of its economy is damaged by the sanctions,” a Professor of Political Science and Director of Security Studies says ILNA.
The U.S Professor, Karl Kaltenthaler believes that there will not be significant domestic pressure on the Trump Administration to ease sanctions against Iran. The U.S Professor says that the European Union is not doing much to persuade Trump to ease pressure on Iran. Karl Kaltenthaler is a Professor of Political Science and Director of Security Studies at the University of Akron. He specializes in international security issues, violent extremism, and the politics of the Middle East and South Asia. You can read his interview with ILNA news agency as follows:
Q: The coronavirus outbreak is already having a damaging economic and business impact, affecting everything and the Islamic Republic of Iran is no exception. Why doesn't the US administration lift sanctions against Iran in this critical situation?
A: There has been a fair amount of discussion about this in the American press. There is reporting of Iranian suffering from the sanctions and from the coronavirus. There is concern among those paying attention to the situation in Iran that things are getting worse and could get much worse. But to be honest, the average American is focused on what is happening in her own home and community because of the virus. There will not be significant domestic pressure on the Trump Administration to ease sanctions against Iran. Because of the coronavirus, the public around the world is very pre-occupied with this health disaster.
Q: In such crisis situations, can Iran overcome the crisis?
A: Iran’s fate with the sanctions is precarious. Its economy is damaged by the sanctions, the Saudi-Russian oil price war only hurts it, and the coronavirus is affecting Iranians badly. My personal hope is that countries can work together to help tackle the common threat of coronavirus.
Q: Do you think Trump administration should reevaluate its policy of maximum pressure toward Iran?
A: There is a cost to Trump to stopping the maximum pressure campaign against Iran. One, it would make him look weak to his political base in the United States. Two, it would infuriate the leadership of Israel and Saudi Arabia, two leaders who are quite close to Trump. Finally, it is not at all clear that key officials in the Trump Administration view the policy of maximum pressure campaign as a failure.
Q: So it is useless to negotiate with the White House in such a situation?
A: I believe that the Trump Administration is serious when it says it wants to negotiate with Iran. But it wants to negotiate with Iran when it gets Iran to stop doing a list of things the Trump Administration does not like. The Trump Administration has made it clear that it wants Iran to stop supporting its allies in the region, halt the development of missile technology that it views as threatening to US allies and US forces in the region, among other things. But the Iranian government does not likely view these as things it can do and not diminish its own security.
Q: So what is the final solution to reconcile the differences between Iran and the United States?
A: The solution to improving Iran-US relations is that both governments need to start having some basic trust in each other. There is so little trust between the two countries’ governments now that a diplomatic solution seems like a distant hope. The Trump Administration looks at Iran as a threat to its interests in Iraq and the region. Likewise, the continuing tightening of sanctions against Iran likely convinces the Iranian government that the Trump Administration wants to see the Iranian government collapse. There has to be some movement toward establishing basic trust before there can be major steps toward improving relations.
Q: In the meantime, can the EU help to reduce political tensions؟
A: There is likely concern in Europe that acting in opposition to US actions would draw it into a more strained relationship with the Trump Administration. The administration already has a fairly dim view of the European Union and the Europeans know it. There have been efforts by the Europeans, including by the British, to get the US to soften its posture toward Iran. That effort has obviously not prevailed.
Q: The Middle East is currently in what many refer to as a “cold war”; What are the consequences of such a situation for the region and all world?
A: The consequences of chaos and war in the Middle East would be catastrophic for people living in the region and outside of the region. Residents of the region have already experienced the ravages of the Iraq-Iran war, the chaos in Iraq following the US invasion, the civil wars in Syria and Yemen, and the scourge of ISIS. It has led to poverty, disease, crime, a rise in religious extremism, and generations growing up worse off than their parents and grandparents. Not only are many of the people in the region growing up and living with little hope, but they also look at governments that they do not trust.