President Donald Trump abandoned former President Barack Obama’s policy of engagement toward Iran in favor of a tougher stance during his first trip abroad.
Trump decried Iran’s growing influence in Syria and Iraq during Monday’s public remarks in Jerusalem, according to Reuters. He then identified opportunities for cooperation in the region, including “advancing prosperity, defeating the evils of terrorism and facing the threat of an Iranian regime that is threatening the region and causing so much violence and suffering.”
Trump’s statements represent a significant departure from Obama’s policy of engagement toward Iran, which sought to draw the country into the international community by rewarding good behavior. The policy ultimately manifested in the 2015 signing of the Iran nuclear agreement, which lifted crippling economic sanctions that were decimating Iran’s economy.
Critics of the deal pointed out that the agreement rescued Iran’s economy and increased Iranian influence in the region. The deal cannot be relied upon to prevent nuclear proliferation, due to inadequate verification measures. (RELATED: Obama’s Absolute Foreign Policy Implosion, In One Sentence)
Trump’s departure from Obama’s emphasis on cooperation with Iran was welcomed by his Israeli hosts.
“I want you to know how much we appreciate the change in American policy on Iran which you enunciated so clearly,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Trump at his residence Monday. Netanyahu’s praise for Trump and his policy realignment is significant in light of his strained relationship with President Barack Obama.
While Netanyahu celebrated this stark reversal in U.S. policy, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani objected to Trump’s rhetoric. Rouhani criticized Trump, calling his visit to Israel a “theatrical gathering with no practical or political value” and arguing peace in the region would be impossible without Iranian cooperation, according to CNN.
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