President Donald Trump shocked the world once again when he announced America’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday.
Signed in 2015 by Iran and a group of world powers including the US, UK, Russia, France, China, Germany and the European Union, the deal was considered a major diplomatic achievement.
While Trump’s decision has attracted criticism from world leaders, the US president may have had good reasons to come to the decision.
Zhu Minjie, a senior editor at Guancha Syndicate, speaking to CGTN outlined two reasons for Trump’s decision.
US wants a leading role in Middle East
Geopolitically, the US has always had a grand strategy in the Middle East, which has been vital for its global supremacy. Located between Europe, Africa and Asia, the military value of the region is highly regarded by the super powers and their ambitions to lead the world.
More importantly, the Middle East has rich oil resources. Half of the top 10 countries with the world’s biggest oil reserves are countries in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia (2), Iran (4), Iraq (5), Kuwait (6) and UAE (7).
For these two reasons the US has always actively participated in the Middle East. From the Arab-Israeli conflict, to the Gulf War, to the Iran nuclear deal, Uncle Sam isn’t content with having a “supporting role” in the region. Instead they want to have the “leading role.” However, the policies of former US President George W. Bush’s, as a result of September 11 attacks, have diminished the US’s influence and interests in the region.
The Iran nuclear deal objectively offered Iran a chance to improve its strained ties with its neighbors including Syria and Lebanon. A thaw in relations between Iran and Syria could pose a serious threat to the US and its allies (Saudi Arabia) in the region. As a country with rich oil resources, an Iran that actively participates in Middle East affairs could harm the US interests in the region. In order to retain its power in the Middle East, the US has to hinder Iran’s influence. Seen this way, withdrawing from the nuclear deal is just an excuse to impose sanctions and try and limit the normalization of Iran’s relations with the international community.
Domestic US politics
The US political system is another driving force behind President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.
The US is characterized by a bipartisan political system.There, parties compete with each other to win election. Sometimes they criticize the other’s policies, regardless of their potential impacts on the state and the world. As one of the Obama administration’s achievements, the Iran nuclear deal has always been a political target, criticized by the Republicans.
From 2014 to 2015, when Obama was trying to reach a nuclear deal with Iran through painstaking negotiations, his political opponents were actively trying to impede him. At the time, the House of Representatives was controlled by Republicans. They were trying to stop Obama from reaching the deal with Iran solely for the purpose of winning the coming election. Although they failed eventually, the deal was seen as the political heritage of the Democratic Party. Trump has been determined to leave the deal for the purpose of appealing to members of the Republican Party. Trump’s recent actions will be a great help in winning the support of rank and file party members, shoring up his base.
While Trump’s actions may be rooted in America’s interests and political system, that doesn’t make them right. If we are going to make the world a safer place, the first step might be to understand why world leaders make the decisions they make, rather than just criticizing them.
This Op-Ed was written by CGTN’s Chu Xiaoji