Articles > > DISSECTING THE GLOBAL ORDER

Articles - Addostour - Date: 2019-05-13
By: Oraib Al Rantawi

Iran's experience with the international community provides a rare opportunity to dissect the network of international relations and identify the global order's parameters and its balances.
 
Washington unilaterally withdrew from the 2016 nuclear deal [in 2018] amid protests from all the great powers that signed it and even their condemnation of the U.S.'s behavior as a threat to international security and stability. But one year after that decision, the end result finds the great powers standing by as spectators to the Iranian-U.S. confrontation, unable to do anything of note towards fulfilling their commitments to maintain the agreement.
 
Once Tehran begins to lower the ceiling of its own commitment to the agreement without actually withdrawing from it, and as soon as it begins to hint at countermeasures, these very same countries will stand together frothing at the mouth against Iran's step. The West's major capitals will proceed to repurpose the U.S. narrative, turning Iran into an easy target for threat and intimidation instead of the party that broke the agreement brazenly and in broad daylight, going over everybody else's the heads in a staggering display of arrogance and bluster.
 
The EU pledged to produce a 'new mechanism' for trading with Iran, circumventing sanctions, compensating Tehran for the repercussions of the U.S. withdrawal, and reducing the sanctions' cost to Iran, as long as the latter upholds its commitments under the terms of the agreement. None of this has happened. Iran has got nothing but evasion and procrastination; several European countries, starting with France, have even shifted to talking about the need for a new agreement that addresses Iran's missile program and its regional role. Where were those concerns when the agreement was signed? And how long will the Old Continent remain so dependent on Washington, feverishly following its lead, even when it is so patronizing, and is such a loose cannon with no control or restraint, and has so little regard for every treaty or agreement?
 
China, an economic superpower in its own right, is in turn reducing its Iranian oil imports on the road to dispensing with them completely, in response, as always, to U.S. pressure. Despite its criticism of the unilateral U.S. step and even though it is directly harmed by Trump's policies and economic protectionism, it apparently has no choice but to bend before the sword of oppressive U.S. sanctions against Iran.
 
Russia has never ceased criticizing Washington, and has been subject to U.S. sanctions in turn. It seems that its military and civilian industries are being prosecuted [for evading the sanctions] in the same manner as the Chinese company Huawei. But Moscow has nothing to offer Tehran, including monies. The guarantor and signatory countries to the nuclear agreement have done nothing to salvage the agreement, or to demonstrate that Washington's decisions and positions are not an inescapable fate. Instead, they are satisfied with issuing verbal condemnations without taking any practical action on the ground, ultimately returning to adopt the U.S. viewpoint after all, despite everything they have said about it. 
 
When Tehran displays some objection or hints at a countermeasure, all hell breaks loose, and the guarantor and signatory countries revert to warning and denunciation, leaving Iran to confront the repercussions of the U.S.'s despicable 'unilateralism' alone, but without exerting any effort to save the global order from the state of lawlessness and disarray instigated by Washington ever since Donald Trump took the helm at the White House. 
 
Who would trust these guarantors and signatories today? And who would need to turn to them if there is the option of making unilateral agreements with Washington? And why would false witnesses among the world's foreign ministers attend future negotiations, since their presence and absence yield the same results alike, and since their 'signatures' are worth less than the ink they are written with and their guarantees will always be held hostage to what Washington wants or does not want?
 
This is a useful if painful lesson to learn. Meanwhile, certain Palestinians continue to believe that switching from unilateral U.S. mediation in the peace process to multilateral mediation will possibly make a difference. There can be no such difference if the balance of power on the ground is not restructured. Wagering on fickle European, Chinese, or even Russian positions may be useful in drafting eloquent statements, but the chance of translating them to action will always remain hostage to what Washington allows. 
 
After all, is that not exactly what Iran contends with today?