France has been engaged in months-long diplomatic efforts to convince Iran and the United States to pause their aggression and start negotiations. However, on Thursday, Trump accused French President Emmanuel Macron of giving Iran “mixed signals” and “purporting to represent” the U.S.
“I know Emmanuel means well, as do all others, but nobody speaks for the United States but the United States itself,” Trump wrote. “No one is authorized in any way, shape, or form, to represent us!”
Don’t expect Macron to respond personally.
“We don’t do diplomacy on Twitter, we are discussing a serious crisis … we don’t do Twitter polemics, it is not how we will achieve our goals,” said a high-level French diplomat in an apparent diss of Trump’s style of diplomacy.
After withdrawing from the Iranian nuclear deal — known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — in May 2018, the Trump administration has pursued a policy of putting pressure on Iran, denying it the benefits it was meant to receive through the deal by reimposing sanctions and suffocating the Iranian economy.
Iranian authorities have countered with what they term “maximal resistance,” shooting down a U.S. drone, seizing tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, threatening freedom of navigation on a strategic maritime route and progressively breaching their JCPOA obligations by stockpiling and enriching uranium beyond the allowed levels.
France considers that the approaches of both sides have reached their limits.
“If I were a New York real estate promoter, I would do that, I would ratchet up the bidding and see what I can get. It’s an approach that can be valuable as long as at one point we can sit down and negotiate,” the high-level French diplomat said. If that doesn’t happen, “everyone loses.”
French officials have also repeatedly denied acting or mediating on behalf of the U.S., and said they are merely preserving their own sovereign interests as signatories and guarantors of the JCPOA.
They say they have attempted, in coordination with the other two European signatories (the U.K. and Germany, collectively known as the E3), to convince Iran to reverse its recent breaches and get the U.S. to alleviate some of its economic sanctions.
“That is what President Macron is doing, in full transparency with our partners and first and foremost with the European JCPOA signatories. He is of course keeping the U.S. authorities informed,” Le Drian said in a statement.
So far, French efforts have not managed to bring the two sides back to table even though Macron has said they managed to “prevent the worst.”
“There is no immediate gain to expect because the Iranian nuclear issue is the most complicated today… [but] if [Macron] doesn’t do it, no one else will,” the diplomat said.
The E3 have also recently diverged on efforts to safeguard maritime security in the Gulf. The U.K. decided to join a U.S.-led coalition, while both Germany and France are not participating. However, France has its own unilateral military assets in the Gulf, while Germany has none.
Iran has threatened to further breach its JCPOA obligations by the beginning of September if the U.S. doesn’t reduce its pressure.