“I think the U.S President is likely to continue to fuel tensions with Iran over the next year in order to gain support,” a US Political Professor told ILNA.
The Executive Director of the Center for Peace, Democracy, and Development, Darren Kew said that President Trump’s mismanagement of the crisis with Turkey over the Syrian border will also put the US in a weaker position to bargain with Iran. Kew who studies the relationship between conflict resolution methods and democratic development in Africa believed that President Trump views foreign policy heavily through a domestic policy lens, particularly in terms of his reelection efforts in 2020.
You can read his Full interview with ILNA news agency as follows:
Q: Tensions between Iran and the United States have escalated in recent days, especially in Iraq. Do you think the situation in the Persian Gulf will be critical again?
A: The tension is from both structural and policy factors. Structural, in the sense that the US and Iran have longstanding competing interests that are at odds across the region, which constantly creates tension and suspicion on both sides. But current policies also make these structural factors worse, such as the Trump administration’s abandonment of the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran, and Iran’s actions across the Middle East in response.
Q: So Trump can eventually be forced to change his policies toward Iran or not?
A: I think that President Trump views foreign policy heavily through a domestic policy lens, particularly in terms of his reelection efforts in 2020, and to deflect attention from impeachment proceedings against him. Consequently, I think the president is likely to continue to fuel tensions with Iran over the next year in order to gain support and deflect criticism away from his problems with Congress.
Q: With such policies, can Trump achieve his ultimate goal?
A: I think the pressure will have mixed results. To some extent, US pressure may force Iran to negotiate on some matters, but it will also push Iran to create more problems for the US, in order to gain bargaining leverage. President Trump’s mismanagement of the crisis with Turkey over the Syrian border will also put the US in a weaker position to bargain with Iran. I think that the Trump strategy of a hardline stance against Iran is counterproductive because prior to the Trump years, Iran was undergoing some important democratic developments, with a more active civil society and growing opposition to the theocratic regime. Trump’s pressure is strengthening the hands of Iran’s right-wing leaders against the opposition, giving the ruling clergy opportunities to gain popularity for resisting Trump and giving them more justification for cracking down on opponents.
Q: In such a situation, Iran's possible negotiation with the United States is fruitful or not?
A: President Trump certainly prides himself on being an expert negotiator, but his recent betrayal of the US’s Kurdish allies in Syria has undermined his credibility worldwide. The impeachment proceedings against him are also making him weaker at home, which will create an incentive for him to increase tensions with Iran in order to deflect attention from the corruption allegations against him. Iran will need to be extremely careful not to give President Trump an excuse to initiate more economic or even military actions against Tehran in the coming months, especially in regard to Iran’s nuclear program. I think that Iran would benefit tremendously from quiet negotiations with Washington that would perhaps include some concessions from Iran over Syria and Yemen, perhaps in exchange for some weakening of the economic pressure, even if the public rhetoric continues to be shrill.