Middle East

Mideast allies pressed Trump to ditch the Iran deal. Are they ready for what’s next?

His closest allies in the Middle East — in Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — had pushed President Trump to exit the nuclear accord with Iran, sharing his conviction that the deal had only encouraged Iran’s military adventurism in the region.

But it is precisely those allies that could face the potential consequences of Trump’s announcement Tuesday that the United States was withdrawing from the agreement. The decision, analysts said, is almost certain to further destabilize a Middle East crippled by civil wars and proxy skirmishes that have sent weapons pouring in and millions of refugees streaming out.

In criticizing the deal Tuesday, Trump said that it “didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.” He did not say what, if anything, would replace the accord or give any hint of how the United States planned to better ensure the security of its allies — at a moment when they are locked in an escalating conflict with Iran playing out in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere.

“It’s very unclear if the Americans have any strategy for the day after,” said Emile Hokayem, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “It’s the worst of all worlds. You are going to do away with an arms-control agreement. But there are no building blocks for a regional strategy to contain Iran, or to engage Iran, for that matter.”

“There will be satisfaction in Arab capitals and in Israel” after Trump’s announcement, he added. “But their interests will not be served without a broader policy framework.”

Yoel Guzansky, a senior fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said that while the nuclear deal was flawed, “the question I am asking myself tonight is whether Trump has an overall American strategy to deal with Iran.”

Read more at The Washington Post

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Kareem Fahim and Loveday Morris