The rift deepens!

A deepening transatlantic rift as “flattery” fails to sway Donald Trump has left Europeans in search of new answers, including closer dealings with Russia that only recently would have been unpalatable, analysts say. The US president’s decision to ignore European pleas to save the Iran nuclear deal is the latest humiliation after his threats to impose trade tariffs, his pull-out from the Paris climate pact, and his demands for Nato allies to pay more. Analysts and officials say Trump threatens to create all by himself the kind of split between allies that Russia and China have tried and failed to foster for years, with Europe now relying on Moscow and Beijing to keep the Iran deal alive.

Trump is “uncontrollable” and “won’t listen to anyone”, an EU official who met the president when he visited Brussels in May 2017 said. German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned last week that Europe could no longer rely on the United States to “protect” it, while French President Emmanuel Macron said that “we cannot let others decide for us.” Both leaders made humiliating pilgrimages to Washington to beg Trump to stick with the Iran deal, only to see him withdraw — and on the eve of “Europe Day”, a public holiday for the EU institutions. Apart from the impact on international security, European firms stand to be badly hit when Trump reimposes sanctions on Iran’s nuclear programme which had been suspended under the deal.

Former US ambassador to the EU Anthony Gardner tweeted that Trump’s Iran pull-out “made the world a far more dangerous place” and scathingly remarked: “So much for European efforts at flattery.” European leaders will discuss the Iran deal and trade at a summit next week in Bulgaria where EU President Donald Tusk said Trump would “meet a united European approach.” The Europeans now faced a “critical and historic choice” over how to react to the Iran deal in particular, said Ellie Geranmayeh, expert at European Council on Foreign Relations. “The Europeans now need to essentially have a very hard and aggressive negotiating posture with the US,” Geranmayeh said. — AFP

Danny KEMP