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Global Pulse: By pulling out of the Iran Deal, Trump risks another war in the Middle East

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After several months of “will he, won’t he,” Donald Trump has finally pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, undoing years of diplomacy between Iran, China, Russia, the United States and the European Union. Iraq will hold elections later this week, but women who are running for parliament face several challenges. Meanwhile, Italy’s deal with Libya to stop migrants and refugees from entering Europe is facing legal challenges.

The firing of yet another deal

On Tuesday, Donald Trump announced his decision to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known commonly as the Iran Deal. The Iran Deal is essentially an international agreement between Iran, Russia, China, the European Union and the United State, the terms of which include Iran cutting down its nuclear stockpile and stop proliferation, in exchange for sanctions.

Susan E. Rice, Obama’s national security advisor and erstwhile ambassador to the United Nations, writes categorically in the New York Times that this is Trump’s “most foolish decision yet.”

“President Trump’s reckless decision to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal will not force Iran back to the negotiating table, nor will it address serious concerns about Iran’s behavior in the Middle East. But it will leave Iran’s nuclear program unconstrained, and an inconstant America isolated from its allies and far less safe.”

“This agreement was never about trust. It is about stringent verification — in perpetuity. The deal effectively cut off all potential pathways for Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.

Now President Trump has ceded the moral high ground and freed Iran from all those constraints. Iran will be able to resume its nuclear activities without being blamed for violating the agreement,” she writes.

Iran’s major regional rival, Saudi Arabia, now has the option to push for a nuclear capacity. This could lead to complications, as both Saudi Arabia and Israel have been trying to influence Trump to pull out of the deal. Both countries have vested regional interests.

“President Trump, disdainful of any success of his predecessor, has long been determined to destroy this agreement, even though it has served American interests and won the grudging support of many of its original critics. The president spiked the Iran deal out of spite and hubris, with no viable alternative. He asserts that, with increased pressure on Iran, he can negotiate a better deal. But only someone who knows nothing about Iran would presume that it will pay more under duress to get the same thing it was promised three years earlier,” Rice writes.

“If Mr. Trump thinks he is sending a strong message of resolve to North Korea, he is again mistaken. Instead, he is demonstrating to a far more advanced and unpredictable adversary on the eve of negotiations that the United States cannot be trusted.”

No women for the win

Iraq is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections on May 12. Under electoral law, 25 per cent of parliament should be made up of women. But this quote has provoked a backlash, the Economist writes. 

“Since campaigning began last month, posters of female candidates (veiled and unveiled) have been defaced and photos allegedly of candidates wearing revealing clothing have been spread online. Intidhar Ahmed Jassim, a candidate from the electoral alliance of Haider al-Abadi, the prime minister, withdrew from the race after a video purporting to show her in bed with a man was published online. (Ms Jassim has called it a fake.) Similar videos have been used to discredit other female candidates, and to intimidate women into not running in future elections. The UN describes the situation as “alarming”.”

“In 2014, the last time Iraqis voted for parliament, only 22 female candidates gained the votes necessary to win their seats. Another 61 women were allocated seats to fill the quota.”

“But part of the problem is that strong and outspoken women are discouraged from running or hounded out by attacks, leaving candidates who are less accomplished and more pliable. Those behind the harassment “are afraid of educated, dynamic, qualified, courageous and open-minded women”, says Jan Kubis, the special representative of the UN secretary general for Iraq.”

“Still, analysts expect women to do better than in 2014 because many voters are fed up with incumbents, who are associated with corruption and sectarianism.”

Legal trouble for Italy

“Italy’s collaboration with Libya to stop migrants reaching Europe is facing a legal challenge over allegations that it has led to grave human rights violations against those crossing the Mediterranean, including torture and slavery,” write Stephani Kirchgaessner and Lorenzo Tondo in The Guardian. 

“A lawsuit filed in the European court of human rights (ECHR) alleges that Italy’s work with the Libyan coastguard, which has stopped migrant boats at Italy’s behest and forced thousands of people to return to Libya against their will, has subjected them to inhumane conditions, beatings, rape and starvation.”

The lawsuit poses a threat to the deal between Italy and Libya, which was endorsed by several other European leaders. “Under the terms of the deal, Italy agreed to train, equip and finance the Libyan coastguard as part of its effort to turn back vessels and return migrants to Libya.”

“But even if the legal challenge does eventually force Italy’s hand, it will not end the political gridlock that has gripped Europe and largely left Italy alone to deal with the arrival of tens of thousand of migrants over the last few years.”


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