Gulf tensions: Britain is getting drawn into supporting Donald Trump’s incoherent policy

An American president who campaigned on ending US intervention in the Middle East, an Iranian regime too poor to wage war.  Nothing to worry about then, as we look at the latest tensions over the Gulf.

Don’t be fooled. The situation is dangerous and becoming more so by the day.

Before he was unceremoniously defenestrated on Twitter by our closest ally, our now outgoing ambassador to the US, Sir Kim Darroch, warned that Donald Trump did not have a coherent Iran policy. It is a commonly held view across European capitals.

The jeopardy for Britain is we are being drawn closer and closer to supporting that policy, or at least enforcing it.

President Trump believes you deal with Iran by squeezing it where it hurts. He has ripped up his side of the nuclear deal and is using every lever possible to bring the ayatollahs to their knees.

He believes that ‘maximum pressure’ policy will bring them back to talks to negotiate a deal on his terms.

His allies do not agree. Not only do they think it is the wrong way to stop Iran building the bomb, they think it is achieving the opposite of what is intended.

That is because far from bringing Iran’s regime to its knees, Trump’s policy seems to have strengthened it.

Iranian officials are galvanised with fighting talk of resistance and seemingly more united and instead of reversing their meddlesome behaviour, they are stepping it up.

Witness the attempted high seas interception of a British tanker this week.

Yes, Iran is increasingly desperate. But that makes its behaviour more and not less dangerous.

It threatens to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world’s oil passes. And it has nothing to lose because America has made it impossible for Iran to export its oil by punishing anyone who buys it.

Until now Britain has been able to keep a distance from Trump’s Iran policy, but its seizure of an Iranian tanker in Gibraltar has changed all that.

Britain insists the move is all about enforcing EU sanction on Syria.

But that is not how they see it in Tehran. For them Britain’s Little Satan is once again doing the bidding of America. So British shipping is fair game for Iranian ambush.

And should America’s ‘incoherent’ Iran policy come eventually to blows, Britain will be held equally to blame with all that will follow.

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