Donald Trump pulls out of Iran nuclear deal: From 'double thumbs up' to 'disastrous', how West Asian media reacted

US president Donald Trump has led his country out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran, after having called the deal "a disaster" and "the worst deal ever". In the immediate aftermath of the decision, several world leaders, including European allies like France, Germany and UK, criticised Washington for unilaterally pulling out of the accord that Trump's predecessor Barack Obama had ironed out.

In fact, French president Emmanuel Macron is set to meet Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, with Paris saying the "deserves better than further destabilisation provoked by American withdrawal. So we want to adhere to it and see to it that Iran does too, that Iran behaves with restraint".

There have been a series of mixed reactions from the media in the West Asia, with editorials taking differing sides. Here's a selection of how the media reported Trump's decision in its editorials.

Riyadh-based Arab News was in favour of the pull-out, writing an editorial opinion piece titled 'Two thumbs up, Mr Trump'. "What matters to this part of the world is that we feared a president who would seek to divide us, but got one who last night talked about unity and how standing together will ensure we do not fail. We feared a president we were led to believe hates our values and culture, but we got one who sipped our coffee, joined us in sword dancing and told us last night that the US is not here to impose its way of life, but to offer us a helping hand if we choose to take it," it wrote.

File image of Donald Trump. Reuters

File image of Donald Trump. Reuters

The piece also criticised Trump's predecessor Obama over the latter's inaction when it came to acting against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. "We thought that when Trump said 'America First', he meant we would be neglected and left to our misery. But it is his predecessor Obama who did that when he opted to lecture and profess instead of adhering to his own red line when Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against his own people."

Gulf News, headquartered in Dubai, also had similarly harsh words for the Iran nuclear deal. In its editorial titled 'Trump is right to dump Iran deal', the publication said, "This Iran deal is indeed deeply flawed, and has done nothing to curb the hegemonic intentions of the regime across the Arabian Gulf. And Trump is right when he says that it has not brought peace. For those who doubt his veracity, look no further than Yemen, where our Arab brothers suffer as a direct result of the actions of Iran's Revolutionary Guard in aiding, abetting and training Al Houthi rebels, and supplying them with sophisticated weapons."

The editorial went on to add further that it's time to take strict action against Tehran. "What's needed now is stern action against a regime that is following a path of violence and vexation, one that is unsettling this region and one that is malicious in its intent and seditious in its actions," it added.

However, Qatar-based Al-Jazeera took a different approach and saw Trump's pull-out of the nuclear deal through the prism of Israel. It wrote an editorial using ISRAEL as an acronym for Iran-Saudi-Reversal of everything Obama-Arms-Engagement-Lynchpin. "Trump's America will not walk away from the Middle East (West Asia). If you thought the Obama doctrine envisioned US disengagement from the Middle East (West Asia), think again. The US will not leave a volatile region for Russia and Iran to dominate. Like his predecessors, Trump will fret and frown about his predecessors' mistakes and failures and the intractable problems of the region, yet still walk in their evangelical path of righteousness to save the region from its demons. And like his predecessors, he won't consider, let alone admit, how US strategies and policies have only made the region more chaotic, dangerous and violent," the editorial, penned by senior political analyst Marwan Bishara, said.

However, he had dire words of warning for Trump. "Relying on Saudi Arabia and Israel will prove to be shortsighted, especially as the Trump administration has already alienated European allies by threatening all those dealing with Iran with sanctions. A confrontation with Iran will not end with more US sanctions, certainly not without secondary sanctions against European, Chinese and Russian companies dealing with Iran. That will pave the way to a full-blown international crisis; one that could leave the US, not Iran, isolated," he added.

Israel's own Haaretz had harsh words for Trump, calling his decision a "disastrous pullout", and though Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had welcomed it, the newspaper said the decision will threaten Israel and endanger the world. "The fact that Netanyahu is working demonstrably and publicly against the agreement could paint Israel as pushing the world to war. The departure of the United States from the agreement, among other reasons because of the 'proof' provided by Netanyahu, could lead to a rift within Israel’s natural coalition. The prime minister might think that Israelis should be grateful to Trump, but at this point, the US pullout endangers the world and threatens Israel," he said.

It had further criticism in store for Netanyahu and his government. "Instead of calming the high level of tension between Israel and Iran, which manifested itself in increased preparedness for an Iranian attack and the opening of shelters in the north of the country, the prime minister and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman prefer to heat up the region and flex their muscles. This is behaviour that could cost dearly," it added.

The argument found a close parallel in an editorial written in Pakistan's The News International. The headline, 'A disastrous departure', was almost identical to the Haaretz piece, while it again made the argument that the deal may threaten peace in the region. "By pulling the US out of the deal, President Donald Trump has endangered peace in the region. The most immediate impact will be a return of US sanctions in Iran. The severity of these sanctions borders on the criminal and will only hurt the people of Iran rather than its government," it said.

It further went on to add that the move will empower hardliners within Iran. "There are already calls from within the country for Iran to begin enriching uranium at previous levels, even though Rouhani’s government has urged caution. Should the response to Trump’s provocation lead to Iran restarting its nuclear programme, it could lead to a chain of events in the Middle East (West Asia)," it added, while further adding that the ultimate fallout may be war.

"The possibility of the US itself taking military action cannot be ruled out. With one rash announcement, Trump has imperilled the peace and shown the rest of the world that his country cannot be counted on to abide by international agreements. The world today is a significantly more dangerous place than it was yesterday," it said.


Updated Date: May 10, 2018 14:51 PM

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