For many centuries, the life and politics of countries in the Middle East have been dominated by external forces that have used the potential of the Middle East for their own selfish purposes. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the end of World War I, the most powerful external players were France and Britain, followed by the United States who gained the upper ground, set on controlling the region’s natural and human recourses to put in place its neocolonial strategy and reshape the world as it sees fit.
Implementing its Machiavellian policies, Washington first began to actively cultivate relationships with individual Arab States with this in mind, hoping to use superior military force to keep the region under control. Those same states that did not have the strength or know-how to put together their own forces to scale, but unexpectedly enriched themselves on oil reserves, creating the perfect doormats to pay for its hegemonic plans, including the full-force takeover of other world regions, outside of the Middle East.
In addition, realizing the advantages of the divide and conquer policy, as well as clearly fearing the uprising of a competent militant Arab force in the region, the United States after World War II began to rely on shaping the Jewish state of Israel through its own active efforts. In order to appoint a de facto prosecutor in the region, the United States, along with Britain and a number of other Western allies, laid plans to create just such a state at the very heart of the Arab world, blatantly infringing on the territorial claims of the Palestinians. Over the subsequent years of its special patronage of Israel, the United States provided them with ever-increasing military and economic assistance, which ultimately allowed it to demonstrate to the Arab world its advantage in the open military Arab-Israeli conflict of the last century. Through the years following the conflict, in escalating inter-Arab conflicts and internecine strife with the active participation of Israel, Washington all but obliterated any competitive Arab militaries in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Egypt, completing this process with a series of interventions in the Middle East and inspired color revolutions. As a result, nearly the only truly competitive force for the United States (and, consequently, Israel) today remains Iran, against which Washington and Israel are now directing the bulk of the turmoil in the region.
As for the Israel’s big brother policy, it continues today through Trump’s plan for the so-called “deal of the century”, which has met criticism everywhere but Israel. Frankfurter Allgemeine expressed deep concerns, that Donald Trump’s plans for a Middle East settlement evoke frightening associations with the apartheid policy, where two people living next to one another are denied equal rights. This was referring to an open letter from 50 former senior European politicians who called on Europe to reject Trump’s plan and take measures to prevent its implementation.
Over recent decades, the United States’ antics in the Middle East have largely been the result of its cooperation with Israel, as well as with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. However, the current regional situation has changed. The Islamic regime in Iran has significantly strengthened its positions in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. It has done so largely thanks to clear miscalculations and aggressive policies on the part of Washington and its regional allies.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, Russia under Vladimir Putin managed to restore the country’s former influence in Europe and the Middle East. As a result, today the Middle East has become more and more open to entrust its interests and the solutions to urgent regional problems to Moscow, which is particularly visible in the settlement of the oil crisis and the search for a way out of the Libyan standoff.
These new realities, in addition to the fatigue of the American society after the two longest wars in the nation’s history, sparked by Washington in Afghanistan and Iraq, are objectively forcing US authorities into a gradual military and political exit from the region. This is why Donald Trump periodically makes statements about withdrawing troops from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. But in reality, the US does not intend to leave the region, since this is not part of their neocolonial plans to take over such resource-rich countries. This was confirmed, among other things, by Mark Esper, Secretary of Defense, in his speech in March, when although the topic was Syria, he couldn’t help but lay out Washington’s regional tactics. In particular, he threatened that US troops located in the area of oil fields will use military force against any party that wants to question US control over these fields.
In addition to all this, as noted by the American Arabic-language satellite TV channel Al-Hurra over the past 40 years, the relations of the United States with its four mainstays in the Middle East (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel) have changed, as well as the attitude of the American people and their representatives in Congress. This channel stresses that perhaps the most striking paradox in this regard is that the list of figures President Trump has established “personal friendships” with (Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman, the President of Egypt Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu), are accused of corruption, authoritarianism, abuse of power, intimidation or even murdering their opponents. As a result, the image of these four States in the eyes of Americans has been damaged, and they no longer enjoy the trust and support of American lawmakers or those who influence public opinion. As for Israel and its policies in the occupied territories, these aspects are increasingly criticized by Democratic leaders and members of Congress, and the Netanyahu Government is criticized even by American Jews.
Long-term US intervention is making the situation in the Middle East more and more complicated and tense. Constant wars leave many people homeless and play right into the hands of numerous terrorist groups. The number of Middle Eastern refugees is skyrocketing due to the military actions. By violating numerous international agreements, the United States is breaking not only their nuclear agreement with Iran, but is also violating international laws by seizing Syria without UN Security Council sanctions and maintaining its military presence in other countries.
All this points to the collapse of US policy in the Middle East, its transformation into a state incapable of negotiations, harboring the sole purpose of bringing the world to its knees with military force. This is why the influence of Russia, China, and even Iran, so hated by the US and Israel, is growing in the region, and America’s former allies have begun to seriously rethink their further dependence on Washington. In Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and many other countries, American intervention has planted not only anti-American sentiment, but also outspoken statements against the US occupation.
Thought-provoking articles in The Wall Street Journal and Foreign Affairs Magazine state that the US has few necessary interests left in the region. The US State Department has also become aware of reduced influence in the Middle East, which, in particular, was voiced in a recent speech by US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, David Schenker, on a video seminar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. However, as always in cases regarding the US, he did not see the root cause of Washington’s bleak situation, i.e. aggressive US policies in the Middle East, straying far from accepted diplomatic language, suggesting that Russia get out of the Middle East.
But as of today, the whole world is already openly saying that the United States should get out of the Middle East, before a regional wave of protest in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen and many other countries forces them to leave the region.
Vladimir Platov, Middle East expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.