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Trump vs his allies

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Trump’s sanctions on Iran will have a serious effect on vulnerable economies such as South Africa’s which rely on Iranian oil.

Picture: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

DONALD Trump’s decision to leave the Iran nuclear deal and impose far-reaching economic sanctions will have a profound impact on world trade.

On Tuesday the US president announced the ending of his country’s commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiated between Iran, the EU, the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany, which was signed by his predecessor, Barack Obama, in 2015. He claims the deal is “decaying and rotten” and is “an embarrassment” to him.

In the US the deal is politically charged because it is seen as a key legacy of Obama. Moreover, while Trump seemingly believes any deal not negotiated by him is a rip-off, he is obsessed with undoing Obama’s legacy. The deal is also opposed by Israel, a close US ally in the region, as well as Saudi Arabia, an outspoken Iran foe.

Under the deal Iran had agreed to dramatically cut its enriched uranium stockpiles and its capacity to enrich uranium in the future. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) gained full access to Iranian nuclear facilities under the deal to monitor its implementation.

Apart from putting emerging market currencies under pressure and sparking a ripple effect on the oil price, Trump’s sanctions on Iran will have a serious effect on vulnerable economies such as South Africa’s which rely on Iranian oil.

The fact that Trump’s break with Iran was no surprise and a long time coming – indeed fulfilling a promise kept from his maverick 2016 election campaign – it does not make the damage done to fragile hopes of peace in the Middle East any less grievous. Nothing, it seems, is allowed to get in the way of Trump’s childish mission to undo – just for the sake of undoing – everything that his predecessor achieved in office.

Trump’s decision once again exposes his conceit. The treaty is not a bilateral deal or in the hands of any single country to terminate unilaterally – it was signed by a number of countries and unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council Resolution 2231. The IAEA has repeatedly said Iran is sticking to its side of the bargain.

America’s closest allies, too, feel betrayed. A joint communique by Emmanuel Macron, Theresa May and Angela Merkel noted their “regret” at Trump’s decision. That is some understatement. They also “regretted” his withdrawal from the Paris climate treaty, the new American embassy in Jerusalem, the trade wars with China, Japan and the EU, insults tweeted at London and Paris and much else.

With a friend like Trump, who needs enemies?