Sun Jul 21, 2019, 02:16 PM

The Wheels Are Coming Off

JULY 19, 2019

A series of events, some of which got little attention in the media, suggest that the wheels may be coming off the Trump administration’s Middle East policy. Admittedly, that policy is not very well articulated, and many knowledgeable observers would regard it as dysfunctional. Yet even a random collection of actions constitute a policy, so let me offer my own interpretation of where we are.

The essential core of the Trump Middle East policy is the alliance with Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The effort to bring the two Arab states into close association with Israel was the most innovative element of this policy, as was the blatantly transactional nature of the relationship with the two wealthy Arab states. President Trump defined it quite simply as “Just take the money.”

My understanding of the importance of this alliance was to promote and sustain the Deal of the Century, which was to resolve the Israel-Palestinian dispute once and for all. Israel was obviously an essential player in this process, but Arab cover and money was required to lend the process legitimacy and agency.

The one common interest that tied these parties together was fear and hatred of Iran. None of the Middle East countries could deal with Iran by itself. But the United States could take the lead in weakening and deterring Iran, and perhaps even fomenting regime change in Tehran.

So together, Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mohammad bin Salman (MbS, crown prince and effective ruler of Saudi Arabia), and Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and effective ruler of the UAE) were going to restructure the landscape of the Middle East.

Reality, of course, intruded.

Prime Minister Netanyahu found himself embroiled in a corruption scandal and was required to call early elections while trying to avoid indictment.

Mohammad bin Salman launched a war in Yemen that created the worst humanitarian disaster of modern times. This eventually attracted the attention of the U.S. Congress and other parliaments which began pushing to terminate arms sales to Saudi Arabia. MbS and MbZ, however doubled down on the war and Trump gave them unstinting support.

MbZ and MbS imposed a blockade of their neighbor and fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member, the fabulously wealthy tiny state of Qatar. Although Qatar was not a member of the Trump alliance, it was the home of Al-Udeid, the largest U.S. air base in Southwest Asia and a critical component of all U.S. military activities in the Middle East, including the fight against the Islamic State (IS or ISIS).

Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist and contributor to the Washington Post, was slaughtered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The CIA and a United Nations investigation concluded that MbS had been associated with the killing. Although President Trump resisted blaming MbS, congressional opposition to Saudi arms sales grew.

The United States did its part in the economic onslaught against Iran. Trump withdrew from the nuclear arms deal negotiated by his predecessor, restored all sanctions that had been removed, and imposed the most severe sanctions ever levied against a state during peacetime. Iran called it economic warfare.



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Reply The Wheels Are Coming Off (Original post)
RCW2014 Jul 2019 OP
shogun Jul 2019 #1

Response to RCW2014 (Original post)

Sun Jul 21, 2019, 02:34 PM

1. This administration is definitely at a tipping point

As reported by the major networks for almost 3 years now. Any day, stay tuned, dont forget to visit our sponsors!

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