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Washington to Europe: We forbid you

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

This is the first American-European confrontation of its kind and the reason is Iran. In the past, relations have witnessed differences in policies between the Atlantic’s two banks in terms of major issues such as the liberation of Kuwait, Iraq’s invasion and other issues but the confrontation is now different.

Europe is confronting Washington as a group and it’s conspiring to rebel against President Trump’s decisions to punish Iran. He’s now threatening the opposing Europeans with sanctions and the American government has warned them that it will destroy the SWIFT payment system that’s headquartered in Brussels, the capital of the EU, if they try to violate sanctions on the Tehran regime.

Europe’s major powers, Germany, France and Britain, do not hide their desire to defy the American government’s resolution in order to thwart its decision to punish Iran. Following dozens of meetings, the EU member states set a series of solutions, which include protecting their companies from American sanctions, encouraging them to seal prohibited deals, setting an alternative cash payment system that does not pass through New York, away from SWIFT, and setting new independent financial methods that facilitate trade with Iran. They also proposed the idea of using the old barter system as for instance Europe sells merchandise or provides services in exchange of Iranian oil.

This is a rare battle in the history of allies, Europe and the US. The American government benefited from the UN General Assembly meetings to convey its stance collectively

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

A rare battle

These attempts at defying the US either directly or evasively did not go unnoticed and Washington does not look at them as policies that oppose it and that are taken by sovereign states. It does not want to accept that they are the result of the signed JCPOA deal, which European countries that are allied with it (the US) want to commit to. Washington views the German, French and British efforts as a plan that defies it and aims to sabotage its efforts, and not just an act that respects the deal.

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This is a rare battle in the history of allies, Europe and the US. The American government benefited from the UN General Assembly meetings to convey its stance collectively. President Donald Trump confirmed his insistence on sanctions against the Iranian regime and said: “I know, they will suffer and they will return to negotiations, and I am ready to negotiate. I do not want negotiations on the basis of strength or weakness, but negotiations that aim to reach a solution.”

US National Security Advisor John Bolton appeared in several television interviews and made harsher statements against the Europeans as he noted that his country’s policy is “firm and fixed” in imposing these economic sanctions and the US will not allow the EU or any other party to undermine these sanctions.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did the same as he warned that Europeans measures against US policy have dangerous consequences on regional security and peace and warned that the US is watching what they’re doing.

We can say today that the Iranian delegation is returning from New York with the worst disappointment in the history of diplomacy. All its efforts and mediations and its game failed in inciting Europe against its ally the US. In weeks, the most important sanctions against the Iranian regime and which pertain to oil and the dollar will be implemented.

This article is also available in Arabic.

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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.