The New York Times reports that Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized a foreign oil tanker in the Persian Gulf. This is the third time Tehran has detained a tanker in the last month, as the US enforces its campaign of “maximum pressure”, sanctions and diplomatic isolation against the nation. Iran’s justification behind this unprovoked attack was that the tanker was “smuggling” fuel to some Arab states, without providing evidence.
Trump’s efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions and warmongering have been admirable. He has been tackling these issues by himself. The President has tried to force Iran into submission by choking off its oil supplies, the cornerstone of their economy. Yet the Islamic Republic proves that they want to provoke a war with Washington by the way they respond to the US every time, despite the fact that the President intends to avoid conflict at all costs. For example, in June, he cancelled an airstrike against the nation.
However, it is unclear how much longer Tehran believes that it can escape punishment for its actions without any Western power displaying any force every time an incident like this occurs. At some point, all sides must reach a compromise in order to avert war. Trump intends to avoid repeating the same mistakes Bush did with Iraq, but eventually he will have to do more than just enforce sanctions against Iran. Yet this whole episode has proved that the support he has received from the EU has been embarrassing.
Whilst the EU has stated that it disagrees with the US on scrapping the 2015 Iran Deal, they have failed to offer any alternative deal or solution to the growing conflict. Whilst they have ignored Iran’s pleas to provide relief to their economy, Brussels has also distanced itself from the Trump administration’s effort to rally a maritime force to escort ships through the Gulf, and Germany has outright said no. This is an appalling effort from the EU, and they must unite behind the President’s attempts to tackle Tehran before more tank seizures happen. It is wrong that they have abandoned the US here, especially when Britain seized an Iranian oil tanker travelling to Syria from Gibraltar.
Brussels has stated it intends to rescue the 2015 Iran Deal, but they can’t when the President has announced that he has pulled the US out of it. On May 2nd, the Trump administration’s oil sanctions against Iran came into effect. Although companies risk being punished if they ignore these sanctions, the New York Times discovered that 12 Iranian tankers still succeeded in delivering oil to China, Syria and Turkey. Experts claim that the sanctions offer little incentive to engage in any new diplomacy. The Obama agreement failed to starve the Islamic Republic of funds to acquire nuclear weapons, and whilst they continue to threaten Israel, they must not be allowed to have the money to do so.
Both the US and the EU must target their sanctions better. For example, the Revolutionary Guard is becoming too powerful. If they could be prevented from pursuing illegal activities and funding terrorist groups, this would undermine Tehran’s regime considerably. But Brussels continues to allow itself to be boxed into a corner over Iran. They are offering no imaginative solution, which destroys any argument that the EU is capable of conducting its own foreign policy. If they are not careful, both the US and Iran could end up at war and they will only have themselves to blame for trying to revive a dead Obama-era deal. It is time they stopped sitting on the fence and started supporting the President if they want to avoid a repeat of Iraq.