Other, pp.1-16, 2020
On May 8, 2018, Donald Trump announced that the United States would unilaterally withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) (Martellini and Zucchetti, 2016). Along with accusing Tehran of failing to live up to its part of the deal, the US re-imposed economic sanctions that had been previously lifted as part of the agreement. As a result, Iran’s economic situation continues to deteriorate and the risk of conflict in the region has increased. Attacks against oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, blamed on Iran by the US, the downing of an American surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz in June 2019, and Tehran’s decision to restart the uranium enrichment process have only served to increase the likelihood of conflict. On September 14, 2019, the last great steps were taken on the path toward escalation with the attacks on Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state-controlled oil company. In an effort to reduce rising tensions, Iran’s trading partners, including Turkey, China, Japan, South Korea and India, are seeking to find a constructive way out of the impasse. Moreover, the EU has sought to establish alternative mechanisms meant to bypass sanctions imposed by the US. All of these efforts, however, have so far neither relieved the economic pressure on Tehran, nor have they reduced tensions in the region. So long as conflicts remain unresolved, the possibility of a confrontation between the US and Iran will continue to have ramifications beyond the Middle East. During this closed session of the TRT World Forum 2019, three presenters and numerous discussants engaged in a vivid debate on the future course of the relations between the US and Iran. Multinational backgrounds and diverse perspectives of the attendees affected both the character of asked questions and defended arguments about the root causes of the problems which exist among those two countries. The questions below summarise the themes which were examined: What is the likelihood of war between the US and Iran, and what are the issues and mechanisms that could lead to direct confrontation? How would a confrontation between Iran and the US play out on the ground? Who would gain and who would lose? How would regional and international geopolitical alignments be affected by a direct confrontation between Iran and the US? Can China, along with Europe, play a constructive role in resolving the crisis? What is the global economic impact resulting from the isolation of Iran, and what are the potential effects on energy and trade in particular?