EghtesadOnline: Iran is exposed to a number of foreign policy challenges in the New Year mostly involving the United States’ activities, an international affairs expert said.
Amir Ali Abolfath then outlined the issues Iran could face in 2019 in a recent interview with ISNA.
"The main trouble at the international level will be how to confront the US, which has adopted a tough line on Tehran under President Donald Trump. The US is determined to intensify sanctions on Iran to the point that would lead to a change of behavior,” he said.
After scrapping the 2015 nuclear deal last May, Trump reimposed harsh sanctions on Tehran and issued threats against other countries for doing business with Iran, Financial Tribune reported.
His “maximum pressure” campaign is aimed at forcing the country to come to the negotiating table once again to make compromises on its missile program and regional activities that are not included in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program.
The other issue, Abolfath added, involves the European Union that, as a party to the deal, has pledged to safeguard Iran’s interests to keep the agreement alive, but will have to pay the price of resisting the US.
“If [the bloc] fails to do so and Iran would not be able to reap the benefits of its oil sales, relations between Iran and Europe will deteriorate,” he said.
According to the expert, the new order that the US is seeking to establish at the regional level will be the main matter of concern for Iran.
“[The US] intends to do this by handing over parts of its responsibilities in the region to its allies, including Saudi Arabia and Turkey,” he said, adding that this will disrupt the balance of power in the region.
He explained that Washington might, for instance, want to give authority to Turkey in the case of Syria that would create tension.
Turkey is involved in an initiative together with Iran and Russia to help restore peace to the war-torn Arab country.
Pointing to Trump’s decision to withdraw its troops from Syria, Abolfath said it will not change the state of affairs in the region because the US will eventually transfer its forces to other regional bases such as those in Iraq.
“The US has enough forces in the region such that a drawdown will not have a significant effect on the political and military arrangements in the region,” he said.
"American policies with regard to Afghanistan might also create concern for Iran this year, as Washington seems to be trying to give part of the power to the Taliban, which could lead to the return of extremist groups.”
The peace and security of Afghanistan directly affect Iran since the two countries are neighbors and share a long border.