US president Donald Trump’s approach to policy in the Middle East could signal an end to the UK-US so-called special relationship.
The House of Lords international relations committee has released a report which calls for the reshaping of UK policy in the Middle East, particularly in regards to the US, when it comes to policies such as the Iran nuclear deal.
The report says that the UK’s engaged in the region should be based on “substantially revised assumptions from those that have guided British policy, some of them for the last century.” In particular, the report believes that the UK government should consider recognising Palestine as a state in order to reach a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, something Trump has said he is not committed to anymore.
Chairman of the committee, Lord Howell, said in a statement:
“The Middle East has changed and UK policy in the region must respond to that. As the UK prepares to leave the EU, and we have a new and uncertain American policy in the region, we cannot assume our strategies of the past will suffice.”
As well, it advised that the UK should work with Iran to ensure the stability of the Iran nuclear deal, which saw major powers agreeing with Iran to restrict the country’s nuclear programme by lifting international sanctions.
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President Trump has described the agreement as “the worst deal ever negotiated” and his administration has launched a review into whether lifting sanctions is in the national security interests of the US.
As a result, the report is fairly damning in its approach to Trump, saying:
“The new US administration has the potential to destabilise further the region … the US president has taken positions that are unconstructive and could even escalate conflict.”
This is a substantial change from previous UK foreign policy which has revolved around the working relationship between the two states. When the UK prime minister Theresa May met Trump shortly after he began his reign in the White House, he declared that the “relationship had never been stronger.”
However, it appears the committee believes that what may be best for the US isn’t going to be best for the UK. The report says that the UK should work more closely with other powers in the region instead of the US, such as China, which has major development and infrastructure ambitions across the Middle East, and Japan.
Howell went on to say:
“We need a new UK Middle East strategy and set of policies that reflect the new reality in the region. We can no longer assume America will set the tone for the West’s relationship with the Middle East and the UK must give serious thought to how our own approach will need to change.”