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Donald Trump and Joe Biden have less than a month to go until the next US general election, which will see Americans decide who will take the reins of the presidency. The President currently lags behind his opposition by nearly 10 points, forming a near-unprecedented gap in the polls. He has launched several bids to spike the vote in his favour, and one seemingly unrelated act could give him the support he needs.
Now approaching the end of his first term, Mr Trump has continued on his warpath against Iran.
His administration recently levelled new sanctions on 18 “major” Iranian banks.
The sanctions will also discourage non-Iranian institutions from trading with them by adding other penalising measures.
Despite the negative consequences, however, Mr Trump’s move may end up one of the few things which could help boost his position in the polls.
Speaking in FiveThirtyEight’s politics chat, election analyst Nathaniel Rakich said an external event such as this could influence his place.
Mr Rakich added candidates have before tried to “stir up” international conflict and create a “rally-around-the-flag-effect”.
He said: “If Trump is going to shake up the race without the debates, he needs something external to happen — for example, a major Biden gaffe or crisis.
“There is some evidence that politicians in trouble try to stir up international conflict to create a rally-around-the-flag effect.”
“Or there could be a Comey letter redux; the Department of Justice just changed its policies to allow prosecutors to continue their investigations even close to an election.”
Whether the sanctions will have this effect remains to be seen, but slivers of conflict have emerged as Iran’s UN representative branded the move “economic terrorism”.
Lawrence Ward, a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney in international business, said Mr Trump’s effort is an attempt to make the US look “tough”.
But he added the sanctions may not have the desired effect.
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He said: “During last night’s debate, many American voters heard Senator Kamala Harris’s astute observation that the Trump Administration’s Iran policy has alienated us from key European allies and has failed to impact the Iranian economy or Iran’s nuclear program.
“This latest effort is certainly an attempt to look tough as to one of our biggest adversaries while supporting an effort championed by Israel, one of our key allies.
“The United States has kept in place a general license allowing US food and agriculture, medical device, and pharmaceutical companies to continue to do certain business with Iran.
“However, some of those companies that support these humanitarian efforts in Iran may now find it difficult or too risky to continue business with Iran.”
“In turn, that may lead to devastating impacts on Iranian citizens – particularly if Iran faces another COVID-outbreak.
“Nevertheless, without ‘buy-in’ to these latest sanctions from European and Asian financial institutions, these sanctions will likely have little impact on the Iranian Government – the target of the sanctions.
“In other words, if those financial institutions now find it too risky to transact with these sanctioned Iranian financial institutions because of the threat of sanctions by the US Government, then this move will likely succeed.
“Today’s actions do force key allied governments in Europe and Asia to decide how to respond – and, to a point raised by Senator Harris last night, may only serve to further alienate the United States from those allies.”
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