Through the Transatlantic Drift, Europe Needs to Take the Helm on Iran
Amidst a global pandemic which has further battered transatlantic relations, European diplomacy might yet again be facing a crossroads when it comes to Iran. The US is failing in its so-called “maximum pressure” approach, and the clearer this failure becomes, the greater the risk of conflict. Both countries may have been been flirting with confrontation over the past year, culminating in direct strikes in January 2020, yet restrain still prevailed. But this may not be for long as struggling leaders may feel they soon need a clear win. Stuck in between, Europe can no longer afford waiting for something to happen to play its appeasing role – it needs to take the lead. This time though, this might mean breaking from the ongoing pattern of reacting to the US, in order to broker a more comprehensive arrangement.
One of the only achievements of the “maximum pressure” approach has indeed been that it has consolidated a transatlantic divide that has seen Europeans trailing. Repeated efforts to bring back everyone to the negotiating table have not been successful, instruments that could allow for renewed economic exchanges with Iran without violating US sanctions, such as INSTEX, have been so far insignificant, and diplomatic initiatives to avoid the re-escalation of tensions have stalled.