The great risk is that Iran will end up following Washington in such an escalation, precisely because the Iranian "hawks" see war as the best guarantee for the survival of the Islamic regime, just like during the Iraq-Iran conflict in the 1980s - contrary to the dreams of "regime change" of some in Washington. In this context, any incident in the Straits of Hormuz or Iraq, or even Syria, can turn into a large-scale military confrontation between Iran and the United States (and its allies). The absence of a "deconfliction" channel between Washington and Tehran can only increase the risk of accidental conflict, as can be currently seen with the incidents involving four ships, including two Saudi tankers, off the United Arab Emirates coast, which may be subject to conflicting interpretations and accusations between the various stakeholders.
The time has come for a strong European diplomatic initiative.
In order to avoid an increasingly probable deflagration, international actors must change their approach. Until now, the Iranian challenge has only inspired Russia, China or even the Europeans to adopt a set of diplomatic positions, without taking any major risks given the economic implications of the application of the extraterritoriality of American laws. It is also true that, by maintaining an uncompromising attitude towards their ballistic program and regional positions, the Iranians have not facilitated their partners’ active engagement so far.
Can the dramatization that we are currently witnessing at least have the advantage of moving the lines? This could be the case under two conditions:
- First, the call for negotiation that may underlie the latest Iranian measures - according to the first reading mentioned above - will not have any serious follow-ups if the negotiation is limited to a dialogue between Europe and Iran, the former being naturally urged to "do more" in the economic field. The resolution of this crisis requires the opening of an area of cooperation between China, Russia, Europe, perhaps India or other major partners, leading all of the latter to then negotiate with both Tehran and Washington.
In practical terms, the idea of a new visit to Tehran by the three ministers - German, British and French - inspired by the Fischer-Straw-Villepin visit in 2003, has been circulating for months. In reality, we must now think bigger and try to launch a European diplomatic offensive vis-a-visMoscow and Beijing, as well as Tehran and Washington.
- Second, the solution (if it exists) lies in Washington, at the level of Mr Trump himself, and not his staff. The President recently repeated that he was waiting for "the Iranians to call him". This is obviously impossible, taken at face value and under current circumstances. Yet should we exclude that Mr Trump could be sensitive to non-public proposals that ultimately allow him to achieve this goal ? His presence in Europe in June could be the opportunity to launch much-needed persuasion attempts. The message to be sent to him should be: it is actually on the Iranian issue (and not on the Israeli-Palestinian one) that he may achieve the "deal of the century".
 The Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier, and then the USS Arlington (assault vessel), the latter having however already been planned before the recent escalation.
 This rhetorical position is not devoid of hypocrisy: when welcoming Mr Zarif (Iranian Foreign Minister) in Moscow, immediately after the Iranian announcements, Mr Lavrov (Russian Foreign Minister) mocked the Europeans’ minimal engagement on this matter. In a major niche concerning the implementation of the JCPOA, civil nuclear cooperation, Russia and China are not rushing to implement their own commitments to Iran.
Copyright : ATTA KENARE / AFP