It staggers belief that the United States should think to sanction Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif — an urbane, extremely articulate, ideologically alert and yet moderate and reasonable tribune of his people in the global arena who is also a superb negotiator, as the West has discovered.
After Washington announced the sanctioning Wednesday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani mocked the US decision, saying America was “afraid” of Mr Zarif’s exceptional capabilities.
Not long ago, US President Donald Trump — who rather fancies himself as a dealmaker — had declared that he was ready to speak to Tehran without preconditions. But it is quite obvious the real intentions of his administration lies elsewhere. If the current US-Iran impasse is to have a solution in diplomacy and not war, is this best achieved by seeking to immobilise Iran's foreign minister through sanctions?
US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin has gratuitously said: “Zarif implements the reckless agenda of Iran's Supreme Leader. The US is sending a clear message to the Iranian regime that its recent behaviour is completely unacceptable.” This begs the question — whose agenda should Mr Zarif implement if not Tehran’s?
The present disastrous course, which will make the region and the wider world burn, being pursued by the US owes entirely to President Trump backing away from the nuclear deal with Tehran that his predecessor Barack Obama had so painstakingly crafted in 2015.
Mr Trump has evidently chosen this path to close in on Iran along with allies Saudi Arabia and Israel. Practically every military and diplomatic move by the US and Britain lately is provocative, and can trigger war. Washington must back away.