Iran or the West - who is being provocative?
Tensions between Iran and the West have been further aggravated by a new incident in the Persian Gulf. According to the government in London, three Iranian ships tried to seize a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. Tehran denies the allegations. While some commentators warn against further escalation, others consider whether the EU should back Trump.
Tehran playing with fire
Iran could end up paying dearly for escalating the conflict, warns The Daily Telegraph:
“[A] wise Iran would have been emollient in the face of President Trump's renewed sanctions. ... What Tehran's rulers seem to have decided is not only to push back, but to strike out in ways which risk war but fall just short of shooting. One mistake, a swarming which is judged the prelude to an attack, and those calculations go overboard. If Iran provokes a real crisis it will be the moment of decision for our allies who'll have to make a choice. Does anyone really doubt which side the Europeans will come down on? Let's hope Iran judges it aright too.”
Soon there could be a real explosion
Although neither Tehran nor Washington want a conflict in the Gulf region, the danger of escalation is real, Radio Kommersant FM explains: What has happened is essentially throwing down the gauntlet. Is the US president really ready for war or will he go no further than words, as usual? So far, despite threatening declarations, nothing has happened. ... No one on the financial markets or in expert circles believes that a major war in the Persian Gulf is realistic. But Tehran needs recognition and an adequate status in the region. It has serious ambitions - yet other countries are always trying to put it in its place. Tehran is unhappy. If it is constantly provoked there is the risk of an explosion. So the situation is critical.
If you want peace, prepare for war
It's time for Europe to send a clear signal to Tehran, writes Die Welt:
“Europe should join the US sanctions and send warships to the Persian Gulf to protect merchant shipping from further Iranian attacks. Admittedly this increases the potential for conflict, but history shows that it could also serve to banish the threat. Twice Tehran has been confronted with a united international community: during the tanker war in the late 1980s and in 2014, when international sanctions were imposed against its nuclear programme. Both times Iran yielded. ... Sadly, the ancient Romans were right: If you want peace, prepare for war. If necessary at Trump's side.”
Don't support Trump blindly
The Netherlands is considering sending a frigate to the Persian Gulf at the US's behest. NRC Handelsblad urges caution:
“It's problematic that so far this is only a request from the Americans, not from Nato or the Security Council. First of all, however, there needs to be clarity about the mandate under which the coalition desired by the US would be operating. A complicating factor is that the Americans have withdrawn from the nuclear deal with Iran, but the European Union hasn't. ... Particularly in view of US President Donald Trump's fickle foreign policy, the Netherlands' have a major interest in ensuring that precise agreements based on international law are reached before it takes action. This clarity doesn't yet exist.”