By Javad Heirannia

Bolton's dismissal does not mean a drastic change in American policy towards Iran: Shireen Hunter

September 22, 2019

TEHRAN - Shireen Tahmaasb Hunter, a professor of political science at Georgetown University, tells the Tehran Times that “Bolton's dismissal by itself alone does not mean a drastic change in American policy towards Iran.”

“Nevertheless, his departure could have created better conditions for diplomacy, had it not been for the attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil installations,” Hunter says.
She adds “Many people in the United States are beginning to realize that Netanyahu's policies are contributing to regional tensions and US problems in the region.”
Following is the text of the interview:

Q: What is your assessment of John Bolton's dismissal? Will the militant faction become a minority with this layoff?

A: Bolton's dismissal, or as he claims his resignation, had many reasons. Only one of these reasons relates to Iran. Trump was unhappy with Bolton because of his approach to North Korea and Afghanistan. Trump wants a deal with both North Korea and the Taliban. But Bolton was opposed to such deals. Also, I think Pompeo who wants to dominate US foreign policy- making, was increasingly unhappy with Bolton. Now, if Brian Hook succeeds Bolton, in effect Pompeo will become the chief policy-maker after the president. As a result, Bolton's departure as yet does not mean a substantial retreat of US hawks on Iran.

Q: What effect will Bolton's dismissal have on US foreign policy toward Iran?

A: Bolton's dismissal by itself alone does not mean a drastic change in American policy towards Iran. Nevertheless, his departure could have created better conditions for diplomacy, had it not been for the attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil installations. This incident for the foreseeable future has seriously undermined any chances for diplomacy that might have existed before. Instead, it has increased the risk of some kind of US military retaliation on Iran.

Q: Since Pompeo has a Bolton-like approach, can Trump change Pompeo as well?

A: By nature, Pompeo is also a hawk on Iran. However, he is more willing to do what Trumps wants. Therefore, if it had not been for the attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil installations, he might have agreed to give diplomacy a try.

Q: Given the change of person like Bolton, are Israeli policies in the U.S. State Department going to fade or shift?

A: Many people in the United States are beginning to realize that Netanyahu's policies are contributing to regional tensions and US problems in the region. However, even with Bolton's departure, a major change in American policy towards Israel is highly unlikely. Meanwhile, Netanyahu will use the attacks on Saudi oil installations to argue that Israel, too, is vulnerable to attacks by Tehran's regional allies like Hezbollah and Hamas, and thus ask America to adopt even harsher policies towards Iran including military strikes.

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