Trump’s move a loss of face for Iran’s ruling theocracy

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Rajeev Deshpande| TNN | Updated: May 10, 2018, 04:34 IST

NEW DELHI: US President Donald Trump‘s decision to exit the nuclear deal with Iran – a contentious pact that has split American opinion down the middle – will be seen as a humiliating putdown for the ruling theocracy in Tehran even as it brings cheer to Saudi Arabia and Israel.

The deal, always seen as imperfect, was a Barack Obama legacy he had keenly sought. The justification was that effects of sanctions under the Bush and Obama administrations had failed to significantly slow down Iran’s nuclear programme and a deal that opened its programme to international scrutiny was worth it.

Sceptics remained unconvinced, arguing that the terms would delay, but not abort Iran’s nuclear bomb. Along with Obamacare, the partisan support for the Iran deal set it up as a prime target for the Republicans and candidate Trump vowed to undo both. The inability of the Obama administration to get any meaningful support across the aisles ensured the deal with Tehran was bitterly contested. Post the re-appraisal of the West Asia and the Islamic State terror group threat, the Trump regime’s decision to back Saudi-led Sunni forces at the cost of Iran, set the stage for Tuesday’s announcement.

It is a hurtful snub for the theocracy that will be vulnerable to jeers that it has been taken for a ride by the ‘Great Satan’. For all the fire and brimstone that President Hassan Rouhani has directed towards Trump, the leadership group headed by supreme leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei will be far from pleased. Public opinion will be disappointed. There is a distinct possibility that Iran-backed militias will target the interests of America and its allies in West Asia and beyond. Yet, the prospects of renewed US sanctions is dispiriting for Iran that had hoped to play a more assertive role in its near and extended neighbourhood. Its intervention in the war in Yemen is intended to stamp its authority while it looks to decisively influence events in Shiamajority Iraq. While the US, at first glance, appears isolated, the ruling clergy in Tehran stands to lose the most.

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