BLOG 355 July 3, 2017
With all the furor over President Trump’s tweets and adolescent responses to criticism, an important shift has gone unreported. Trump has actually made an impact in the Middle East that the Western media has not particularly picked up. Behind the scenes a shift is taking place that could have a major impact on the future.
One of the deficits of the Obama era was his reluctance to get involved and to push for creative change in the region. Obama basically walked away from the Syrian civil war, leaving it to Russia who in turn took Crimea and invaded Ukrainia. Obama’s warnings to Syria about chemical warfare used on their own people went unfulfilled and unheeded.
Whether Trump’s new overtures in the Middle East are only as impulse or are part of a larger policy (hard to tell at this time), his efforts are producing a new alliance of pro-US Sunni Arab states that could radically affect the Middle East. On June 4, The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain officially cut ties with Qatar. The Iranians and ISIS are being isolated by these efforts that signal Russia no longer owns the playing field.
Qatari money and the Muslim Brotherhood pushed for dominance, but their efforts are now dead. The Arab world has ruptured ties with Qatar which further isolates Iran. The Jerusalem Post reporter Seth Frantzman notes there are five reasons you should be aware of the current changes going on in the backrooms of the Middle-East. You are not likely to read this anywhere else.
- The shift hurts Hamas because Qatar supported the terrorist group. Hamas and their leader can no longer depend on unqualified support. Hamas will lose out in this new emerging allegiance.
- Israel is being brought closer to Saudi Arabia and Egypt as well as other Gulf states.
Israel can become a partner with the states that oppose terrorism coming from Iran and Qatar.
- The emerging alliance signals that the US is back in the region and will assert influence. Under Obama, Israel felt isolated and questioned whether he was truly a friend. Today, Netanyahu sees America as a friend they can count on.
- The new status helps de-legitimize terrorism. When Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and other states work in concert to halt the kind of terrorism that has grown out of Iran, the winds of stability are blowing in Israel’s direction. New soundness is added to the region.
- Israel’s position in the Middle East is bolstered by this new alliance. When Qatar and Iran are the center of attention rather than the Palestinians, this is a good step for Israel. Harmony in the region is good for everyone, but Israel in particular.
The biggest loser in this new scenario may well be Hamas. The Arab states have come to see Hamas as an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood which they now label as a terrorist group. If Hamas is no longer bailed out by Qatar, they indeed have a serious problem.