October 25, 2017
The Middle East After Decertification: A French Perspective
By Michel Duclos
France played a significant role in the negotiations that led to the deal with Iran known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The French never believed in the “transformational” value of the JCPOA. They did not think the agreement would lead Iran to take on more of a moderate role in the region. On the contrary, they feared that in order to get the support of the security wing of the regime, the moderate elements would be forced to give up more freedom to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and their epigones.
The new administration in Washington could have disrupted the landscape that was being drawn. President Donald Trump’s reaction to the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack on April 6, 2017, led us to think that new American leaders understood better than their predecessors the “language” of the region, in which strong actions carry significant weight. A real US re-engagement appeared possible, opening a window of opportunity for a settlement if the Russians were really interested in concluding an agreement. This did not happen, and the lack of a compelling Syria policy is now more apparent in the Trump administration than under President Barack Obama.
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