Opinion and Editorial

KT edit: World must act together to keep pressure on Iran

Filed on September 18, 2019 | Last updated on September 18, 2019 at 09.12 pm

US President Donald Trump has threatened retaliation but he isn't itching for a fight and does not want to push America into another war.

Fresh US sanctions on Iran will not only make the country's economic crisis worse but could also provoke further misadventures from a regime that is feeling the heat on all sides. Tensions are rising between the Washington and Tehran, and unless the two sides find an honourable, face-saving way to descalate, the situation could spin out of control. The Gulf cannot afford any conflict at a time when predictions for the global economy appear gloomy. The Middle East needs a clear shot at economic resurgence. War is not even the last option on the table under the circumstances; diplomatic engagement is. The region is still suffering from the effects of limited conflicts, occupation, civil strife and proxy battles, so why take that road again?  But attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities have shaken oil markets, and Iran has been blamed. Early evidence points to it. What is the endgame? US President Donald Trump has threatened retaliation but he isn't itching for a fight and does not want to push America into another war just as it is ceding ground in the Middle East.

Trump is bent on keeping his election promise to his voters, while making the right (threatening noises) which only complicate a dangerous crises playing out in the Middle East. But Wednesday's revelations show that the attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities may have originated in Iran and not Yemen. The Houthis lack the missile or drone technology to launch such sophisticated and simultaneous attacks. A bigger player is involved and it's not surprising that the evidence points to Iran, a regime that has a history of stoking multiple sectarian conflicts. Struck by sanctions and reeling from their impact, Tehran now believes it has nothing to lose and is attempting to draw other countries into the mess it has created. Isolating Iran and convincing Russia and China is a first step to bring the regime to the negotiating table. A global diplomatic response is needed while keeping the pressure on Tehran with sanctions. The goal is avoid a wider conflict by shoring up local defences while drawing up the courage to engage with the enemy.


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