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    Participants pose for family photo at the Middle East conference at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland, February 13, 2019

    'ME Summit Highlights Profound Divergence Between US & Its Allies' – Scholar

    © REUTERS / Agencja Gazeta/Slawomir Kaminski
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    The US has been putting pressure on Europe to quit the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. US Vice President Mike Pence speaking at the security summit on the Middle East in Warsaw said: "The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and join with us".

    Sputnik has discussed the conference on the Middle East with Dr Seyed Ali Alavi, an Iran expert at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies.

    Sputnik: The summit participants according to Mike Pence have said that they believe that Iran is the greatest threat to peace in the region. What is your reaction to that statement?

    Seyed Ali Alavi: Before anything, we need to know that the summit, in fact, highlights profound divergences between President Trump's administration and some of the European and Middle Eastern states. Germany and France sent low-level representatives, the British foreign secretary will leave the meetings early and Turkey, a crucial member of NATO, didn't send any delegates and Lebanon, Russia and Qatar also ignored the summit. So this, in fact, as I said, highlights profound divergences between the United States under the Trump administration and the EU, and we need to see it through this lens.

    Sputnik: What do you make of the level of participation of some of the European countries, basically they sent career diplomats, no high-ranking officials, Turkey also has not become involved in this, they are at another summit meeting with the Iranian president. What are your thoughts on what this shows about US relationship with their "allies"?

    Seyed Ali Alavi: Yes, correct, it does underline the profound differences between the two sides. President Trump and his traditional allies in Western Europe and also with Turkey and Qatar also didn't participate. It does show the differences and divergences. Also, the original agenda was altered when the European allies objected to its item of Iran, especially they know this would jeopardise the JCPOA even further. So, in fact, it was not very successful, or at least it did underline the divergences between the United States and its allies. Specifically, as I mentioned, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Turkey, especially, it did come to the surface.

    Sputnik: So what do you think is going to be accomplished, if anything?

    Seyed Ali Alavi: As we know the summit is mainly about the gathering of the Prime Minister of Israel and some of the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. The summit is more like a photo opportunity for the Israeli prime minister and to decorate the Likud Party's campaign leaflets. But this doesn't mean there will be tangible changes in Israeli-Arab relations because the Palestinian question is not even on the agenda for the summit. The summit in Warsaw from my point of view shows that the idea of an Arab NATO against Iran is a daydream and very difficult to be implemented.

    READ MORE: US Unlikely to Marshal International Coalition Against Iran — Consultant

    Sputnik: Do you think that harm is done by organising these kinds of events?

    Seyed Ali Alavi: The harm was already done when President Trump withdrew from the JCPOA, but, of course, it will, as I said, not only harm Iran but it's also highlighted the divergences between the Trump administration and some of its allies in Europe and in the region, in the Middle East. Also, we need to look into the role of China and Russia because they ignored the summit. So it's more likely to harm the American interest some may argue.

    Sputnik: It's interesting to note that Turkey has stepped up and said that it's ready to create a special mechanism for transactions with Iran, essentially joining the ranks of Germany and France who also want to have a special mechanism to avoid some of the consequences of the JCPOA. What do you think that's going to do to Ankara's ties with Washington, and also the fact that Ankara is not at this meeting, but is meeting with Russia and with Iran?

    Seyed Ali Alavi: Turkey's Erdogan already bypassed the sanctions, even before 2005. It's not something new, and Turkey is not shy to say that they don't recognise the sanctions against Iran. And, of course, before the United States withdrew from the JCPOA and now they've always bypassed the sanctions.

    Of course, now Turkey is flexing its muscles and joined the EU countries, but at the same time it's coordinating with Russia and China, and other countries in order to make sure that it's not falling into the network of the sanctions against Iran; because Turkey also sees itself as a kind of good neighbour to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    Sputnik: There have been some voices in Europe saying that this gathering is sort of Washington's attempt to break up Europe, to separate Europe. Do you agree with that and do you think that it will be successful if that's indeed what they're trying to do?

    Seyed Ali Alavi: It's a good question, one thing is very important. In fact, by hosting the summit, Poland intends to send a strong signal to Moscow that the cooperation between Poland and the United States is powerful. So the main objective here, that many people may not pay enough attention to it is how Poland is trying to take advantage of this to send a strong signal against Russia. And in terms of dividing Europe, I'm not sure, because Europe has already a strong position in this context and they did not agree with the agenda and the context of the summit and timing of it.

    The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

     

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