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HomeGeopolitical CompassWest & Centeral AsiaThe Hard Chess Puzzle: Trump’s ‘Maximum Pressure’ versus Iran’s ‘Maximum Resistance’

The Hard Chess Puzzle: Trump’s ‘Maximum Pressure’ versus Iran’s ‘Maximum Resistance’

Author: Kayhan Barzegar

Organization/Publisher: Al Jazeera Centre for Studies

Date/Place: June 15, 2020/Doha, Qatar

Type of Literature: Report

Number of Pages: 14

Link: https://studies.aljazeera.net/en/reports/hard-chess-puzzle-trump%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98maximum-pressure%E2%80%99-versus-iran%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98maximum-resistance%E2%80%99 

Keywords: Balance of Power, Deterrence, Strategic insecurity, Containment.

Brief: 

Under current circumstances, the Trump administration’s anti-Iranian policies aren’t achieving its desired goals. Iran is still a regional power with deterrent capabilities despite difficulties. This goes back to both countries’ history of conflict, which reached a fleeting moment of potential understanding under President Obama. The nuclear deal “JCPOA” came at a time when there was an attempt at using “balance of interests” instead of “balance of power” to manage world affairs. But Trump rolled back President Obama’s attempts and initiated a “maximum pressure” policy to the delight of some regional actors, the goal being to force negotiations on American terms. Iran responded with a maximum resistance policy, seeking to solidify regional presence and to acquire a strategic depth for its national security. This is achieved by supporting its four fronts, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syria, the Popular Mobilization Forces “PMF” in Iraq, and the Houthis in Yemen, in addition to having robust, international ballistic missile capabilities. To Trump’s dismay the maximum pressure policy led to Iran becoming more entrenched and more capable in its acquired strength. As both countries’ policies take form, a “minimum containment” policy emerges with time being the main factor in action. As Trump seeks to avoid conflict before elections, while attempting to minimize the cost of containing Iran, the latter is utilizing this to entrench itself via its “no war, no negotiations.” But the main driving factor of this current predicament is not merely a lack of a nuclear deal, but the mutual sense of strategic insecurity.

By: Omar Fili, CIGA Research Assistant

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