America's Envoy to Tehran Quits as Trump's Disastrous Iran Policy Continues to Unravel
Donald Trump's special envoy to Iran, Brian Hook, quit this week. Hook had been the face of the administration's disastrous Iran policy with the unenviable task of trying to coax the Iranians back to the negotiating table after Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [Iran nuclear deal] and reimposed harsh economic sanctions. Hook's mission was to neuter Iran by forcing them to negotiate a new deal to give up their nuclear program, stop producing ballistic missiles and terminate support for groups like Hezbollah. It was a pipe-dream, as we explained back in 2018, and had about as much chance of success as Trump's sophomoric overtures to North Korea.
Moreover, America's allies in Europe opposed US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, arguing that Tehran had lived up to their obligations under the agreement and had effectively shut down their nuclear weapons program.
New York Times: ... "As Mr. Trump threatened to scrap the Iran deal in 2018, Mr. Hook met regularly with Western European officials in an ultimately futile effort to convince them — especially the Germans — to reopen the accord and toughen its terms. The effort failed, and Mr. Trump’s decision to exit the accord led to a rift with the European powers, Russia and China on Iran policy that remained to this day."
Trump and his foreign policy team believed that the economic sanctions would incite mass protests, convincing Tehran that they had to accept America's terms or face a rebellion in the streets. Instead it strengthened the hand of Iran's hardliners who believe that obtaining a nuclear weapon is the only way to deter American and Israeli interference with their regional ambitions, including their long-term rivalry with the Saudis. And, predictably, Iran has slowly begun to ramp up their nuclear program again.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, defiantly drove the point home in early August, stating in a televised address that Iran will continue to rebuild its nuclear program and won't renegotiate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. His confidence in Iran's ability to withstand Trump's "maximum pressure" sanctions probably stems from Tehran's new partnership with China.
New York Times: "Iran and China have quietly drafted a sweeping economic and security partnership that would clear the way for billions of dollars of Chinese investments in energy and other sectors, undercutting the Trump administration’s efforts to isolate the Iranian government because of its nuclear and military ambitions." "The partnership, detailed in an 18-page proposed agreement obtained by The New York Times, would vastly expand Chinese presence in banking, telecommunications, ports, railways and dozens of other projects. In exchange, China would receive a regular — and, according to an Iranian official and an oil trader, heavily discounted — supply of Iranian oil over the next 25 years."
The agreement also calls for expanding military ties between the nations, providing China with the foothold in the Middle-East that it has long desired.
As Trump's policy has continued to unravel, it's not difficult to understand why Mr. Hooks decided it was time for him to leave his post as special envoy to Iran. He will be replaced by Elliott Abrams who was convicted of misleading Congress about the Iran-Contra affair but later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content