Sputnik discussed Trump's push for more sanctions on Iran with Doga Eralp, a lecturer of international peace and conflict resolution at the School of International Service and co-director of the South West Asia Group.
Sputnik: What is behind Trump's push for more sanctions on Iran and to what extent is it a result of lobbying from Israel, the Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia?
Doga Eralp: Obviously, the Trump administration is justifying relations with those like such as Israel and Saudi Arabia definitely have an impact in the way the US defines its priorities in the Middle East, but also you need to take into consideration that the Trump administration came to power with the ‘America First' model, so the main drive behind the Trump's administration push towards furthering sanctions towards Iran is evidence of that, that the United States will go ahead with its own plans and anyone who wants to join the US they are welcome to, otherwise they will find the US against them, so it's basically a formation of the ‘America First' approach in the US's foreign policy and, obviously, its target right now is Iran.
Sputnik: In your view will Washington achieve its goal and succeed and what exactly are its goals really? Iran is in conformity with the JCPOA and that was not enough for Washington to stay in that agreement, what are the primary goals of Washington?
Doga Eralp: I'm not as convinced that the United States administration's overall goal is to necessarily to get Iran to comply with the JCPOA as they already, as you have mentioned, and as the UN observers had already noted, that they are already complying with it. The US's overall objective is alienating and isolating Iran in the Middle East, so that they will be able to curb Iranian influence in Syria, in Iraq, so that's really their overall objective; so the nuclear deal is only a symbolic move to cancel it, so they actually want to send a strong political message to Iran that as long as they don't play the game the US wants to play, that the US is willing to let go of any agreements they signed with Iran before.
Sputnik: In what way do you think Iran is really a threat to the US?
Doga Eralp: Obviously Iran does not necessarily pose a direct threat to the US, but Iran's presence in the Middle East is a significant challenge to the US's influence in the Middle East through its allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia; so in conjunction with those close allies the US definitely wants to push back on the Iranian influence to gain more ground and more space for its political manoeuvres in the Middle East and for that they think it's best to curb down Iranian influence by imposing these sanctions and basically suffocating the Iranian economy, that's overall their main efforts.
Sputnik: Turkey recently said it will continue to purchase Iran's natural gas unless there are UN sanctions, so they are not interested in US sanctions on Iran, how is that going to impact US-Turkey relations?
Doga Eralp: As you know the US-Turkey relations are already in a downward slide, both countries have a growing number of divergences on a number of issues, primarily Syria and also the fact that the alleged mastermind of the failed coup in Turkey in July 2016 is living in the United States — Fethullah Gulen is considered as a significant threat to Turkish national security by the Erdogan government; so there's growing tensions between both countries and obviously Turkey is still holding the US pastor Brunson in custody, which further feeds the fire that already is there, so Turkey is willing to overstep any form of US threat of sanctions on Iran by continuing to purchase oil from Iran, and obviously Turkey and Iran have been close partners over the past decades or so, so I believe will continue to get stronger and Turkey will also like to confirm its opposition towards the United States.
The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.