U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed the possibility of building a coalition to counter the threat Iran posed by Iran with leaders in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Monday. Pompeo hopes to create a widespread, global coalition that would include European countries as well as other Asian nations.
These meetings come during a time where the situation with Iran has become increasingly volatile. On June 20, Iran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone claiming that the drone violated Iranian airspace. In response, President Donald Trump announced on Monday new sanctions against Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, along with some of his top advisers and officials. These sanctions intend to prohibit the targeted individuals from using the international banking system, which is a big hindrance to the flow of Iran’s economy.
Secretary Pompeo met with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman while in Saudi Arabia, and later traveled to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed in the UAE. He explained to both parties the Trump Administration’s plan for security in the Persian Gulf moving forward, and emphasized that both nations must play a role in this plan for it to be executed successfully. According to the Associated Press, Pompeo reasoned with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed by saying, “The president is keen on sharing that the United States doesn’t bear the cost of this.”
Though the Trump Administration is hoping to create this grand coalition with nations throughout Europe and Asia, it seems like it will be a hard sell to countries like the U.K., France, and Germany, which are still signatories to the nuclear accords that President Trump pulled out of last year. In fact, these three nations have recently sent envoys to Iran, according to the Associated Press, with intent to focus on diplomacy instead of violence or other unproductive measures. According to the New York Times, Russia and China joined these and other European nations in openly opposing the sanctions Trump introduced on Monday, signaling that Pompeo’s efforts could lack support in the long run and may lead to a dead end.
Though these other nations may be working hard on nonviolent strategies, violence could be just around the corner if Iran and the U.S. are left to their own devices. On June 21, President Trump admitted that he was prepared to retaliate against Iran for the drone incident, with three different targets in mind, but called off the attack when he learned that 150 people would be killed in the process. Though Trump made the right decision not to lean into unnecessary violence, his admission told us how little it could take to send this situation into a full-on violent conflict. If that were to come to fruition, all parties would be in a losing scenario, so we must ramp up efforts to avoid violence.
Luckily, there are still members of Trump’s team that acknowledge nonviolence as the best method for the U.S. to pursue. The U.S. special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, said on June 21 it was “important we do everything” to de-escalate tensions, according to NBC News. He went on to say, “Our diplomacy does not give Iran the right to respond with military force, Iran needs to meet our diplomacy with diplomacy and not military force,” while speaking at a news conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh.
Of course, this relies on Trump remaining level-headed and willing to not retaliate in the knowledge that there are better options. This is an extremely delicate issue, and moving forward all parties must make the proper efforts to diffuse tensions on both sides so as to not allow any violence to occur. Trump’s team must focus on diplomatic efforts and work harder to encourage Iran to come to the discussion table. Violent strategies will get us nowhere.