Trump finally delivered his much anticipated speech on Iran policy and the Iran Nuclear Deal and as expected, the speech was long on rhetoric and short on actual steps. He correctly pointed out everything that is wrong with the IR Regime, but did not provide any details on how he wants to deal with it. In a nutshell, it was another feel-good “Axis of Evil” speech which when everything is said and done, put the Regime in a much stronger position in Iraq and the Region a few years later.

Trump pulled himself out of the certification process that the US Congress had imposed on the US Presidents to basically state that the US-imposed sanctions can remain suspended if the IR Regime is living up to its nuclear obligations, which they have done so far. He punted the certification responsibility back to the Congress and said, “You guys deal with this!” And it does not appear to be enough support in the US Senate to tear up the Deal, or any enthusiasm on the part of the Europeans or the IR Regime to renegotiate the Deal. So we will be left with the US isolated from the rest of the world while the Regime continues on doing business with the Europeans and the Asians, with one caveat that no country will risk putting serious money into the Iranian oil infrastructure.

He also called Sepah a supporter of terrorist organizations, and not a terrorist organization itself which should bring US sanctions against Sepah, but not much more. However, the effectiveness of a sanction policy is in its rigorous enforcement and not just imposing them. Obama and his Treasury Department were successful in enforcing sanctions because they had an aggressive and comprehensive enforcement mechanism. Trump in contrast, is still struggling with filling high level department roles and at each step of the way, he contradicts his cabinet members. So we have to wait and see on this one, especially considering his poor relationship with the US allies, China and Russia which makes enforcement extremely difficult.

Given Trump’s performance so far, a few years after this “Axis of Evil” speech, the IR Regime, with the help from the Russians, will be in a much better position in Syria, Iraq and some other parts of the Region.