The US government wants to isolate Iran politically – and is now looking for allies for the hardliner course. The Middle East Conference in Warsaw will show potential partners.
As a rule, the most important results of international conferences are only finalized and then recorded in final declarations or agreements. At the Conference on the Future of the Middle East in Warsaw, the opposite is true. The most important message is: who actually participates?
70 countries have invited the two hosts, Poland's Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz and his American colleague Mike Pompeo. Although the US State Department emphasizes that no specific topic or country should be placed at the center of the conference. However, important Western European allies accuse the Americans of exactly this.
Is the Middle East Conference an anti-Iran meeting?
You see an anti-Iranian agenda. The working groups on Thursday are about exactly what the US is accusing Iran of: developing new rockets and promoting terrorism. In order to curb this with a harsh sanctioning policy, the US has dropped out of the agreement with Tehran to prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb. Germany, France and the UK, on the other hand, are seeking dialogue and trying to save the agreement.
The list of participants for the conference in Warsaw now shows who is close to the tough US course against Tehran. Israel, the archenemy of Iran, is particularly high-ranking with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Eastern European countries such as Hungary, Lithuania or Latvia send their foreign ministers. By contrast, only one State Secretary is from Germany. And nobody comes from Russia.
The United States ennobles the conference with Washington DC Vice President Mike Pence. Foreign Minister Pompeo connects with the meeting a three-country tour of Eastern Europe with further stations in Hungary and Slovakia. He wants to assure the US-Nato allies 30 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain the solidarity of the USA. The security conference in Munich with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas next weekend, he leaves on the way back to the US, however, left.
Germany is Trump's favorite opponent in Europe
The whole thing reminds at least a little of the year 2003, when the Americans under the then President George W. Bush, among other things in Eastern Europe, looked for Allies for their "coalition of the willing" in the Iraq war. Germany and France stood against it together with Russia. In Washington, the story of the old Western Europe and the new Eastern Europe emerged, giving a fresher view of the world. Even if this time is not about war – many a diplomat sees parallels to the then in the lover of the United States for the East Europeans.
US President Donald Trump has selected Germany as his favorite counterpart in Europe. And Poland seems to become its dearest ally. His government and that of Poland's national conservative Justice and Justice Party (PiS) are considered brothers in spirit. Trump was already hailed by crowds during his visit to Warsaw in July 2017 – ahead of the onward journey to the G20 summit.
Poland applies for US military base
Many Poles in the US see the security guarantor in the region. Since the Ukraine crisis, Poland and the Baltic States are worried about their security. Therefore, since 2014, the United States has been moving units there in rotation to deter Russia. In return, Warsaw buys military equipment in the United States and is one of the few Member States to meet the NATO defense spending target of more than two percent of GDP.
For some time now, the Polish government has been campaigning for Poland as the location for a new, permanent military base of Americans, which according to a proposal by Warsaw could be called "Fort Trump". The orientation of the conference can also be seen against this background. The accusation that the event could split the European Union, says Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz. He sees Poland more as an intermediary between Brussels and Washington. The conference is an opportunity to advance Middle East issues, he says.
Relations between Iran and the US are tense
However, Poland's relations with Iran had a major impact on the meeting in advance. Tehran expressed sharp criticism at the conference and threatened Poland with diplomatic consequences. An invitation from Warsaw did not exist for the Iranian side.
"Given the current state of US-Iranian relations, it is difficult to imagine Tehran's representatives joining the talks," the Foreign Ministry said. Nonetheless, Poland considers that the goal of the initiative, namely to stabilize the region in the Middle East, can not be achieved at a later date without some involvement from the Iranian side.