U.S. widens EU divisions via Middle East conference in Warsaw

By Agencies Source:Xinhua Published: 2019/2/16 22:12:33

By organizing a Middle East conference in Warsaw zeroing in on Iran, the United States has widened divisions among European Union countries, while securing its interests instead of promoting peace and security in the Middle East, a Polish scholar said on Friday.

The Warsaw conference, co-organized by Poland and the U.S., was billed by the U.S. Department of State as a "Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East." However, this was not the real intention of the U.S., according to Robert Czulda, an assistant professor of Middle East studies at the University of Lodz.

The ministerial meeting came as the EU member states hold different opinions on Iran. Last year, the U.S. withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sanctions. Other countries involved in the deal, including major European powers such as Germany, France and Britain, have since tried to keep the deal alive.

"One of the U.S.' goals was to widen divisions among EU member states. The UK, Germany and France still support the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) and in fact Poland does support it too," Czulda told Xinhua in an interview.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini didn't attend the conference, and neither did the foreign ministers of France and Germany, who sent lower ranking officials instead. Russia also stayed away, while British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who came to warsaw to chair a meeting on peace in Yemen, left early.

"The absence of high-ranking officials of the EU shows that the EU's policy towards Iran differs" from that of the U.S., Czulda said.

The Polish academic noted that "the U.S.' intention was not to promote peace and security but to secure its own interests -- and this is not an accusation."

"Each power thinks first of all about its own national interests. The U.S. wants to secure Pax Americana in the Middle East, which Tehran said openly that it would destroy," said Czulda, a former visiting professor at Islamic Azad University in Iran.

He said that the U.S. appears to have no clear and coherent policies today. Vice President Mike Pence said in Warsaw that America wanted to "roll back" Iran's influence in the region, while at the same time President Donald Trump was planning to withdraw the U.S. troops from Syria.

"This means that there is a logical hole in the U.S.' strategy -- you cannot contain your enemy and then withdraw your resources that are crucial for achieving this goal," he said.

Another important goal for the U.S. is to bring Israel and the Arab monarchies to the same table.

"The White House is keen to see Arab-Israeli (mainly Saudi-Israeli) cooperation become a reality, " he said.

Czulda pointed out that conference co-host Poland had two considerations: one is its own reputation, and the other is enhanced U.S. military presence in the country.

"By hosting a multinational diplomatic event of this scale, Poland could boost its international reputation and prestige. Meanwhile, Poland expects a larger deployment of permanent U.S. troops because of security concerns," he said.

However, the Polish government doesn't want to defy the EU for supporting America.

Addressing a joint press conference in Warsaw with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said Poland is part of the EU and hence it accepts the policy of JCPOA.

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