Trump pushing Iran, China, Turkey, Russia to form anti-sanction alliance

TEHRAN, Aug. 14 (MNA) – From the Bosphorus to Beijing, a new power bloc is emerging to challenge the established order, as Trump is concurrently confronting Iran, China, Russia and Turkey.

According to a new piece of op-ed written by Mark Almond, the Director of the Crisis Research Institute in Oxford, US President Trump is creating an axis of the sanctioned with pushing the countries suffering from US aggressive measures to form an alliance to counter US intimidating behaviors.

“Trade wars are easy to win,” Donald Trump reassured Americans when he launched stiff tariffs on Chinese exports. Then in rapid fire he re-imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran, ramped them up on Russia and sent Turkey’s currency into a tailspin with tariffs on steel and aluminum exports.

So far first blood to the US. Even China has found that its huge trade surplus makes it more vulnerable to American measures than the US economy is to counter-measures from Beijing. The sharp falls in the rouble, Iran’s rial and the Turkish lira are all testimony to America’s status as the world’s financial heavyweight.

Yet maybe things have gone too easily. For all the economic costs inflicted on Trump’s targets, the primary reasons for his measures have been political. Just as the US president seemed to bring North Korea to heel with a potent mixture of threatening “fire and fury”, plus tightening the economic noose, so Iranian officials and the Kremlin were supposed to concede to Washington as their currencies and economies were tipped into recession. Turkey, too, has been under pressure to release a US citizen held for alleged collusion with the 2016 coup. But isn’t the point of sanctions to isolate a state? Creating a swathe of pariahs from the Bosphorus to Beijing could backfire. Trump’s scatter-gun approach to sanctioning rivals risks creating an alliance of the sanctioned.

Taken individually, Iran, Turkey, Russia and even China are vulnerable to American pressure. But if these countries are pushed together, their mutual support and capacity to cause turmoil could make US measures counterproductive. Maybe a coalescing of Iran and Turkey could be dismissed but add Russia and China, and they suddenly have a new geopolitical hinterland.

Turkey’s President Erdogan more than hinted at a reorientation when he reacted to US tariffs by saying his country could find new friends and got on the phone to Putin. Even before the tariffs spat, Erdogan had been reviling Washington for not extraditing his foe, Gulen, for alleged coup plotting in 2016. Turkey has been cozying up to the Kremlin, ordering the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system in a clear departure from NATO’s integrated air defense.

Turkey is the linchpin because until now it has been inside the US-led NATO tent. Its position at the junction of Europe and Asia, bordering Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria, was one reason Washington always wanted Turkey in NATO. It is also why Russia sees huge gains to Trump’s double-sanctioning of both Moscow and Ankara.

Unless one of Trump’s targets blinks, the pain threshold might be passed without either regime-change or a regime reversing course. Already Imran Khan’s Pakistan, dependent on Chinese investment, has announced its support for Turkey vis-à-vis the US – and it has received an offer of Russian military assistance to replace blocked US training and supplies. That could put another piece onto the board linking Turkey and Iran to China.

Trump’s simultaneous confrontation with the axis of the sanctioned is bringing clarity to international relations. He is making everyone choose where they stand. But he is forgetting the wisdom of his great predecessor, Abraham Lincoln. During the Civil War, his secretary of state said the Union should invade Canada to punish Britain for its sympathy for the South. “One war at a time,” Lincoln admonished him and concentrated on beating the main enemy.

Trump would be wiser to punish one adversary at a time. Afterwards he could find the others more amenable when they have fewer friends.

The original piece was published on


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