Dangerous Trumpism in the Middle East with an anti-European edge

President Trump and King Salman of Saudi Arabia signed a $110 billion Arms Deal. May 20, 2017 (The White House work, snapshot from a video).

All main stream media analysts agree that the US President Donald Trump last Sunday 21 May in Riyadh, completely reversed his predecessor Barack Obama’s Middle East policy. He made it evidently biased, aggressive and dangerously personal, despite the extensive use of the word ‘peace’. In a matter of hours Trump endorsed one hundred per cent the autocratic Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni Gulf kingdoms regimes, and ostracized Iran as the only source of trouble in the region and the sole supporter of terrorism. He forgot that the US, since 11 September 2001, is fighting terror emanating from the hard-line Salafist Sunni kingdoms of the Gulf. On the same occasion, he repudiated the agreement the Obama administration had signed with Shia Moslem Iran, in order for Tehran to stop its nuclear program and open its markets to the West.

This US step leaves the co-signers of the above mentioned agreement (dubbed the 5+1 deal) Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China out in the cold. The European Union, and more precisely Federica Mogherini the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, was very active in striking this Iran deal. Soon after the signing on 14/7/2015, a number of EU giants like Airbus rushed to Tehran and signed contracts worth tens of billions.

Ostracizing Iran

The Americans were slow, presumably for political reasons, in taking advantage of Tehran’s opening to the West. They were rather happy with their lucrative contracts with the oil rich Gulf kingdoms. In short, this week, Trump  tried to annul Tehran’s cooperation with Europe by aggressively taking parts, like a bull in a china shop, in the centuries old rivalry between Shia Iran and the Sunni Kingdoms of the Persian Gulf. None of his last two predecessors in the White House had so vigorously embraced the autocracies of the Gulf and ostracized Iran. And this despite the very good relations of both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations with Saudi Arabia.

Trump also told the super wealthy despotic Sunni hardliners of the Gulf that the US doesn’t want (any more) to tell them how to live and run their authoritarian governance systems. In this way he denounced the albeit small grievances the US had under Obama, in respect with the dictatorial character of those regimes. As if the oil kings have bought into Trump’s total support, Saudi Arabia agreed to purchase $110 billion worth or American armaments, in the hope of changing the balance of power in the Gulf against Shia Iran. Currently, all those oil kingdoms don’t stand a chance, militarily, vis-à-vis Iran. This last country after many years of isolation has managed to develop its own armaments industry able to confront even the US navy in the Arab Gulf.

Packaging Arabs and Israelis?

The next day, Monday 22 May in Tel Aviv, the Israeli capital, Trump again categorically ostracized Iran more than once. In this way, the new American administration is forming a taciturn alliance of the oil rich countries with Israel, both archetypal enemies of Iran. Yet, the US armed forces which are combating ISIS in Mosul, are fighting side by side with Iranian army units. Iran has a very strong and close relationship with the Iraqi government. Tehran has effectively supported Bagdad in redressing – together with the US – the Iraqi armed forces and, with the supply of American weaponry, have jointly managed to overpower ISIS. Iran plays the same role in Syria, where Tehran’s armed forces, while supporting the Bashar al-Assad regime, have also managed to corner ISIS.

However, in Tel Aviv, Trump ‘forgot’ to honor his promise to help ‘transfer the Israeli capital to Jerusalem‘. Last February, he stated that the US was ready to transfer the US embassy there. Not a word about that now. For one thing, he finally understood the complexities which have been haunting Jerusalem for the last two millennia. The three most important monotheisms have their hubs in the city, making it practically untouchable. Christians, Moslems and Jews are packed there, in a way that not even…Trump can touch.

Faulting on promises

This is not the first time that Trump is caught retracting on his promises. During his first 100 days in power he has failed on many occasions to honor his word. He promised to work for the ‘left behind’ Americans and instead he has briefly made the New York bankers immensely richer and appointed as Labor Secretary the most callous American employer. By the same token, his present makeshift Middle East policy is seen just as a pompous arrangement. It’s a readymade White House scheme, to give him the opportunity to boast that he brought $110 billion worth of payrolls back to America.

Rather sooner than later, though, his inexperienced advisors will discover that without Iran, it’s impossible to make plans in the Middle East. With all the latest US guns that Saudi Arabia has been buying during the past few years, Riyadh proved impotent to defeat the barefoot Houthis, the Shia Moslem rebel movement in Yemen, which is being effectively backed by Iran. It’s very probable that in the next few weeks the US will face more demands from Saudi Arabia for field support in Yemen, the underbelly of the entire Arabian Peninsula. Tehran will soon try to test the newly boosted by $110 billion US-Saudi Arabia partnership. Iran is sure to raise the stakes in Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East.

A difficult job

Once more then, Trump will learn the hard way that it’s not an easy thing to be President of the US. His own newly botched up Middle East policy will soon prove to be strategically much more dangerous, than it is politically profitable personally for him within the US. America will most probably soon return to the previous mode of energetically supporting the oil rich kingdoms of the Gulf, but at the same time cooperating with Iran too. The Europeans will definitively press the US to this direction, and will demand that Washington honors her signature in the 5+1 agreement with Tehran.

 

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