Iran: US shooting itself in the foot?

US President Donald Trump has warned companies against trading with Iran in spite of the US sanctions. "Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States", Trump posted on Twitter. Commentators see his comment as an attack on the sovereignty of the US's European allies, and believe that in the end it is the US that will suffer most as a result of its newfound isolationism.

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La Repubblica (IT) /

A direct assault on other countries' sovereignty

Trump is blackmailing Europe, La Repubblica's Brussels correspondent Andrea Bonanni warns:

“Ultimately Trump's challenge to Iran, albeit seemingly less portentous from an economic point of view, can have far worse political repercussions than the trade war he is waging with the rest of the world, from Canada and China to Europe. The goal of the tariff conflict is to restore a balance that the US has lost on the market. The conflict over the Iranian sanctions, by contrast, is aimed at destroying the sovereignty of other powers over their own foreign policy, their trade strategy and ultimately their own companies.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Trump gambles away transatlantic alliance

With his unilateral approach the US president is snubbing his European allies, De Volkskrant complains:

“Trump is pulverising the broad consensus about curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions and sparing neither friends nor foes in the process. Someone who does this had better be sure that he is right and that his actions won't worsen the situation and for example lead to the resumption of Iran's nuclear weapons programme or an escalating regional war. But there can be no talk of that. ... Trump is sacrificing an international diplomatic consensus and the support of his allies for the sake of a game of chance in the Middle East. And he's gambling with European chips - and that will put even more strain on the relationship.”

Yeni Şafak (TR) /

This time the US is on its own

The new Iran sanctions will further isolate the US internationally, Yeni Şafak believes:

“This time around it seems that Trump and his administration won't find the broad alliance for the Iran sanctions that they had set their sights on. ... Almost all of the countries that took part in the nuclear deal, as well as the EU, have signalled that there is no reason to revoke the agreement and that they will go on doing business with Iran. ... Like the trade wars with China and the EU, the sanctions against Iran are one of the ways in which the US is sealing itself off. With its trade wars the country is signalling that it is barricading itself in, and with its restrictions on the free circulation of goods and capital it is setting a new trend against globalisation. This trend won't serve anyone's interests, but the US stands to be the biggest loser.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

A sign of self-assertion

Deutschlandfunk welcomes the EU's reaction:

“With this blocking statute EU companies will be banned from breaking off trade ties with Iran because of the threat of US sanctions. But how can you verify on a case-by-case basis why a company has decided not to close a deal? ... Clearly, the scope of the blockade statute is very limited. It may be that Washington's sanctions really will bring about Iran's economic downfall. Nevertheless, Europe's resistance is sending an important signal. To Washington, but also to the rest of the world. 'We will not tolerate this kind of treatment!' It's a signal of self-assertion, a signal that the EU wants to remain a reliable partner in the future.”

Wiener Zeitung (AT) /

Sticking to the deal can hurt

The EU must not become the US's stooge, the Wiener Zeitung also warns:

“The European Union cannot allow the government in Washington to decide which countries companies based in EU member states do or do not do business with. Everyone involved knows that the regime in Tehran is anything but a good partner for Europe: the mullahs want the obliteration of Israel, they support terrorist organisations like Hamas and Hezbollah and they have a hand in proxy wars from Yemen to Syria. Opponents of the regime, critical intellectuals, journalists and artists as well as women's rights and human rights activists risk their freedom, their health and even their lives. Nonetheless, so far Iran has adhered to all points of the agreement and not given us any reason to reimpose the sanctions.”

Adevărul (RO) /

EU unfortunately not in control

The EU can repeat as often as it likes that it wants to maintain trade relations with Tehran but in the end it may be left powerless, political advisor Radu Ghelmez fears in his blog on Adevărul:

“Unfortunately the European economic giants have already declared that if necessary they will break off relations with Iran to avoid losing access to the huge US market. This access the EU's protective measures cannot guarantee. It may be that we end up in a situation in which the EU permits and encourages economic relations with Iran, but no European company wants to take the risk. Then the Iranians would no longer have any real reason to stick to the nuclear pact, and would renounce it.”