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The Gulf, Iran and Trump’s tweets

August 3, 2018 at 4:30 pm

US President Donald Trump [Stringer/Anadolu Agency]

US President Donald Trump tweets threats against Iran and the Gulf capitals dance with joy at his scowling and anger. The man then tones down his language and manner and calls for dialogue with Tehran, and the same capitals become angry and enraged with the man they believed was working in their favour or that they were able to buy with their money.

This is what Washington’s relationship with the Gulf states has come to. The Gulf states haven’t stopped igniting fires in the region and feel no sense of responsibility or guilt towards the millions of people displaced by the wars and conflicts.

Since Trump came to power, some officials in these countries thought they had found what they were missing in the White House, as they were dealing with someone who cared only about money and worked according to the logic of deals, not the logic of a responsible statesman.

They naively and foolishly believed that they could buy the man’s loyalty and have him at their beck and call. They did not realise that the US president is not working in a vacuum, but through institutions that monitor him and hold him accountable for his behaviour.

Read: Iran rejects Trump offer of talks as ‘humiliation’, without value

They also forgot that the man ultimately only commits to the interests of his country, regardless of what others want. This became clear at the start of the Qatar siege crisis.

After they rejoiced in Trump’s irresponsible remarks and tweets regarding Qatar and imagined they would be able to use them as a cover to attack their neighbour, the American institution, especially the State Department and Department of Defence, brought the man back to his senses. They stopped the recklessness and disorder with which he was dealing with the Gulf crisis.

The situation has reached the point of Trump criticising the besieging countries for refusing to sit and conduct talks with Doha. He has held them responsible for the continuation of the crisis. After Rex Tillerson’s departure from the State Department and the arrival of Mike Pompeo, these states thought they could buy the man and pressure him in relation to the Qatar and Iran files, but the result was the opposite.

Pompeo blamed Saudi Arabia during his first visit there for its inflexible position in the Gulf crisis and he uttered his famous word, “Enough!” to express Washington’s frustration at the continuation of the crisis, as reported by the New York Times a few months ago.

CIA Director Michael Pompeo [Gage Skidmore/Wikipedia]

There are also on-going US efforts to hold a Gulf summit in the autumn in order to end the crisis and focus on the Iran file. Trump’s wavering with regard to Iran has prompted a Gulf academic from Abu Dhabi to tweet angrily about the man, as if he were working for his country.

Iran’s special forces chief warns Trump: ‘If you begin the war, we will end it’

There is no dispute that Iran poses a real threat to the Arab region, and it is indisputable that its crimes in the region over the past years provide sufficient proof of the need to confront Iran and its actions.

However, those who imagine that the US would fight Iran for the Arabs are absolutely delusional. The most Trump may do is exploit the Gulf’s fear of Iran in order to financially, politically and strategically take advantage of them.

A while back, Trump had publically demanded that the Gulf states concerned by Iran should pay the cost of his protection. Of course, he will not stop his protection as long as there is someone subject to and accepting of extortion.

Thus, Iran’s mischief in the region will not be stopped by trying to buy the loyalty of a foolish individual such as Trump, but through a Gulf and Arab policy with clear priorities and the will to work together, without conflicts or internal clashes, as is the case now.

This article first appeared in Arabic in the New Khaleej on 3 August 2018

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.