varied reactions
September 18, 2019

The drone strikes on two of Saudi Arabia's major oil facilities over the weekend have dominated the news cycle in the U.S., but they seemingly haven't altered how European leaders are approaching their continued diplomatic efforts with Iran.

As things stand, The New York Times reports, Europe appears cautious about jumping aboard the blame-Iran bandwagon, even after Saudi Arabia doubled down on its accusations that Tehran, not Yemen's Houthi rebels, were behind the attacks. And there are no signs that Europe's largest powers, such as Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, are reneging on their endeavors to once again get Iran to comply with the terms of the 2015 nuclear pact, which is now in jeopardy.

Indeed, German Chancellor Angela Merkel as recently as Tuesday called for a return to the nuclear deal and added that "Germany will always be in favor of de-escalation" even after "tensions in the region rose" last weekend. Germany on Wednesday also extended its ban on exporting arms to Saudi Arabia, which, while not necessarily related, certainly does not appear to be a call to war with Iran.

The other possible reason Europe has stayed silent so far, aside from evading angering Iran, is that the continent's leaders aren't keen on blindly falling in line with President Trump as Washington seemingly strengthens its stance against Tehran. In fact, the Times reports that Ellie Geranmayeh, a scholar of Iran at the European Council on Foreign relations, said the European powers blame Trump for creating the environment that led to the attacks as much as the Iranians, even if the latter do turn out to be responsible for them. Tim O'Donnell

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