Balance of Power: Trump Warning Drags Iran Back Into Spotlight

President Donald Trump wants the festering dispute between a Saudi-led coalition and Qatar ended, quickly.

So when it looked like the kingdom was weighing military action against the tiny emirate earlier this year, Trump warned leaders in Riyadh and the U.A.E. to back down, two people familiar with the discussions told Bloomberg News. It was a dramatic level of personal involvement by a U.S. president in a dispute where he initially sided with the Saudis.

Now Trump and his national security team worry the continuing crisis will benefit Iran, which already has ties to Qatar and is seen by the U.S. as a disruptive force across the Middle East.

Iran may be Trump’s top foreign policy priority after “Rocket Man” Kim Jong-Un. On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly today, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will cajole other countries in the Iran nuclear deal to consider changing the accord.

Still, there’s little support for such a measure. French President Emmanuel Macron rebuffed Trump over the issue yesterday. “If we denounce the accord, do we better manage nuclear proliferation? I don’t think so.”

Donald Trump meets with Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
Photographer: Getty Images

Sign up to receive the Balance of Power newsletter in your inbox, and follow Bloomberg Politics on Twitter and Facebook for more.

Global Headlines

Scary world, calm markets | Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer says the world is facing “the most dangerous geopolitical environment” he’s ever encountered. But tell that to investors as stock markets rise across the world — even South Korea’s benchmark KOSPI index is up 19 percent this year. Bremmer is participating today in the inaugural Bloomberg Global Business Forum sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies. More than 50 heads of state and 250 chief executive officers will take part, with headliners including former President Bill Clinton.

Mexico City quake | Emergency workers are combing rubble for survivors after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck near Mexico City yesterday, killing at least 226, triggering fires and toppling buildings. Coming 32 years to the day after another huge temblor killed 5,000 people, the quake closed the airport and temporarily stopped trading on the Mexican Stock Exchange.

U.S. tax reform breakthrough | Senate Republicans have reached a tentative budget agreement that is said to allow for $1.5 trillion in tax cuts. The agreement represents a pronounced departure from traditional Republican doctrine that a tax-code overhaul shouldn’t add to the federal deficit and underscores the difficult path ahead. 

Abe preps for election | Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is laying the groundwork for an early election in October after his stern response to the North Korean threat sparked a big jump in his opinion-poll ratings. As Isabel Reynolds and Emi Nobuhiro write, Abe is likely to promise more money for schools and young families and to pledge follow through on a long-delayed sales tax hike. 

Catalan crackdown | The Spanish government staged dawn raids in Barcelona this morning ahead of an illegal referendum on Catalan independence on Oct. 1. Activists controlling the regional government are storing ballot boxes in secret locations and are preparing to ensure the vote happens. If it doesn’t, they plan to take to the streets. 

And finally... Angela Merkel’s party is pulling out all the stops before Sunday’s election. A campaign ad released this week shows the chancellor as a young East German girl along with the slogan “For a Germany where anyone can realize their dreams.” The picture is a reminder of how Merkel remains her party’s central asset even after 12 years in power. Watch out for a Special Edition of Balance of Power on Sunday after the results are out. In the meantime, here’s a rundown of everything you need to know about the vote.

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.
    LEARN MORE