When Obama was in office, he went out of his way to concede to Iran on numerous points with regards to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. He turned a blind eye to Iran’s belligerence and sent the message that he would not react, or act, when faced with malign activities that it is involved with.
Obama promised that with concessions and appeasement Iran would soften its behaviour and would start to act in the way the international community expects it to. However, this completely backfired because Iran was more emboldened than ever.
Trump vowed to call the Iranian regime out whenever necessary and so far he has stuck to his word. He is now in the middle of a maximum pressure campaign and it is already starting to show positive results.
Obama had the almost once in a lifetime opportunity to deal with the Iran threat when the nuclear deal was being negotiated, but he let the opportunity pass.
Now, the Trump administration has the opportunity to take action to bring further results. This opportunity lies in Iraq and Syria.
First of all, the Iranian regime is not legitimate and is not popular – neither at home or abroad. The regime has failed in numerous areas including its own economic collapse and numerous environmental issues such as water shortages.
The people of Iran have been pushed aside while the regime looks for supremacy elsewhere in the region, in particular in Iraq and Syria. The people of Iran are deeply unhappy with this situation and they have been taking to the streets in huge protests and anti-government demonstrations since the end of last year.
The survival of the Iranian regime is dependent on its success in Syria. The Assad regime seems to be getting closer to victory and Iran may have a secure future there. It has invested heavily in the Syrian civil war supporting Assad’s regime. However, further heavy investment is needed to rebuild the country.
Not so easy when Iran’s economy is collapsing. Although the United States still has a presence in Syria, it could be doing more to counter Iran. The U.S. has the possibility of providing more support for the anti-Iranian Syrian forces fighting the Assad regime and Iran still can be prevented from becoming stable in areas its proxies and allies occupy. Trade and investment can be diverted from parts held by the Syrian regime and border areas should be held by the opposition.
The U.S. can roll back Iran’s influence in Iraq too. The U.S. does not have to share power with Iran in Iraq. Many of the leaders in Iraq are weary of Tehran and are more than happy to work with other actors – both at home and abroad – to stave off Iran’s influence. The U.S. can influence Tehran’s banking ties with Iraq and can put an end to illicit economic activities that are taking place.
There are still options and although Trump does not have the same opportunity as Obama did, there are some great opportunities nevertheless.