Tasnim – A political analyst based in London described Donald Trump as “the most anti-Iranian American president since Ronald Reagan” and said he is damaging Washington’s relations with Europe through his hostile policies against the Islamic Republic.
“I am enthused and refreshed by Europe’s opposition to Mr. Trump’s approach to Iran,” Marcus Papadopoulos said in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency.
“The American president, who exhibits all of the signs of a tormentor, will not find it so easy to get his way with the Europeans and in particular with Angela Merkel,” he added.
“And Mr. Trump runs the risk of causing division within his own administration by damaging ties with European countries such as Germany which are, after all, key US allies in the world.”
Papadopoulos is a political expert and the publisher and editor of Politics First, a non-partisan publication for the UK Parliament. He earned his MA in Modern History and his Ph.D. in Russian history from Royal Holloway, University of London. His comments and interviews have appeared in various news outlets, including RT, Al Jazeera, Rossiya 24, TASS and RIA Novosti.
The following is the full text of the interview:
Tasnim: As you know, the Trump administration recently threatened to cut Iranian oil exports to zero, saying that countries must stop buying its oil from Nov. 4 or face financial consequences. Washington later softened its threat, saying that it would allow reduced oil flows of Iranian oil, in certain cases. Since oil is a strategic product and countries around the world always demand it, do you think that the US is able to carry out this threat at all?
Papadopoulos: Let me establish something before I answer your question: Donald Trump is the most anti-Iranian American president since Ronald Reagan, and he constitutes an existential threat to Iran. The politicians in Washington, London, Tel Aviv and Riyadh who have been openly calling for the overthrow of the Iranian government for decades, now sense that Mr. Trump represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to achieve their goal hence why momentum appears to be building for some kind of military action to be taken against Iran, though the possibility of this materializing remains improbable for the time being, at least. However, what is materializing is Mr. Trump’s attempts to bleed Iran dry of money in the hope that this will lead to the collapse of the Iranian government. And his approach to devastating the Iranian economy is twofold: firstly, by introducing severe economic sanctions which will affect every aspect of Iran’s economy; and secondly, by cutting off all Iranian oil exports by this November, or, at least, greatly reducing them. I have no doubt, whatsoever, that Mr. Trump will use some of the most powerful sanctions at his disposal to try and ruin the significant economic progress which Iran has made in recent times. And I also have no doubt that the American president will target Iran’s oil exports, knowing very well that this is the revenue that Tehran mostly relies on. Emboldened by the full support which Saudi Arabia and Israel have pledged to his stance on Iran, together with his own personal visceral disliking of Iran, Mr. Trump will make good on his promise to try and instigate the downfall of the Iranian authorities.
Tasnim: Iran has threatened to block oil exports through the Strait of Hormuz, a key Persian Gulf waterway, in retaliation for US efforts to reduce Iranian oil sales to zero. Analysts say that crude oil prices could jump as high as US$250 a barrel if Iran goes through with its threat to close the strait. What do you think? In your opinion, what other measures can Iran do to counteract US pressures?
Papadopoulos: I sense that the Americans are trying to goad Iran into blocking oil exports through the Strait of Hormuz as a pretext for Washington taking some kind of decisive military action against the Iranians. My advice to the Iranian government is to not take that course of action because it would only play into the hands of the Americans. Should military action commence against Iran by America, then the campaign will be relentless until Mr. Trump feels his objectives have been realized. Whilst the Iranian Armed Forces and the Iranian people, in general, would put up tremendous resistance against American military aggression, they would not be able to avert the inevitable. So, instead of Iran taking action in the Strait of Hormuz, the country should, in my opinion, look to build upon its bilateral and economic ties with Europe and increase its ties with Russia, noting how Moscow came to the aid of the Syrian government and thereby foiled the American objective of overthrowing the Syrian authorities. The Iranians are a proud people – and rightly so, as they are the descendants of Cyrus the Great, Xerxes the Great and Darius the Great. And I understand and sympathize with how the Iranians continue to feel aggrieved by Russia’s role in the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran, in 1941. However, the most important duty for all Iranians today is to preserve Iran’s status as an independent, sovereign country that pursues an independent foreign policy, and if this means coming to a long-term military arrangement with Russia which would help to safeguard Iran from the clutches of America, then this should be done because Iran cannot, realistically speaking, take on the military might of an America which is intent on destroying the Iranian government. That is nothing for Iranians to be ashamed of; it is simply a reflection of realpolitik – and one that any Syrian or Serb can testify to.
Tasnim: As you know, Trump’s threat is part of his walking away from the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). He also plans to reinstate anti-Tehran sanctions from November 4. In the meantime, the European Union has put forward a package of economic measures to offset the US pullout from the JCPOA. What do you think about the EU’s role in reducing Washington’s pressures against Tehran?
Papadopoulos: I am enthused and refreshed by Europe’s opposition to Mr. Trump’s approach to Iran. The American president, who exhibits all of the signs of a tormentor, will not find it so easy to get his way with the Europeans and in particular with Angela Merkel. And Mr. Trump runs the risk of causing division within his own administration by damaging ties with European countries such as Germany which are, after all, key US allies in the world. I sense that some in Mr. Trump’s administration feel that America’s focus should be on Russia and therefore Washington should be courting its allies in Europe to counter the supposed Russian threat, instead of alienating them. Furthermore, I sense that some within Mr. Trump’s government, whilst not having any affection for Iran, feel that their president is going too far with his anti-Iranian crusade. So I believe that it is possible that a limiting factor against the US’ hostile agenda for Iran is Europe, together with those who are more reasonable and rational in Washington. But, that said, we must never lose sight of the fact America has, in the past, been able to use its tremendous leverage which it has in Europe to force the Europeans to go along with American measures, such as the placing of economic sanctions on Russia in 2014. And at a time when the economic standing of Europe remains fragile, Washington could be (and probably is) reminding capitals like Berlin and Paris that they can either have an $18 trillion US market or a $400 billion Iran market. Could Europe succumb to such an economic temptation, together with American coercive measures? The answer is yes, it is very possible. But then that leads to another question: How probable is it that Europe will succumb? For the time being, Europe is showing no signs of wavering in its opposition to Mr. Trump’s stance on Iran and in its support to the Iran nuclear deal.