BLOG 417 January 14, 2019
WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST ~ Each week Robert L. Wise, PhD, explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.
In these blogs, I attempt to express an objective analysis of the Middle East situation regardless of my personal political viewpoints. In these times of political chaos in America with the government shut-down, political parties locked in turmoil, and the stock market sliding because of the political instability, it is difficult to keep these elements out of the Middle Eastern war. Nevertheless, the following is what appears to be the reality of the situation.
President Donald Trump’s abrupt and totally unexpected decision to pull America out of Syria has brought more chaos to the region. After Secretary Rex Tillerson left office, he noted that Trump didn’t read much and paid little attention to memos. (He also called Trump a moron while in office) Unfortunately, it now appears Tillerson knew exactly what he was talking about. Trump’s ill-timed pronouncement has further deteriorated America’s role in creating stability in the region.
The problem began with President Obama drawing a red-line in Syria and then doing nothing when it was crossed. Obama’s lack of forceful leadership left the door open for the Russians and Iranians to rush up. The result was that Bashar Assad was not toppled and those two dictatorships were more entrenched than ever.
President Trump said he had assurances from Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Turkey would not attack the Kurds. Now, Erdogan implies Trump is a traitor and said they would make no concessions in regard to the Kurds. During the Syrian civil war, the Kurds had been America’s firmest allies. Have they now been hung out to dry by both Trump and Erdogan?
Secretary of State Pompeo immediately spoke to assure the Kurds they would be safe after the US leaves. During this trip, Pompeo made an unscheduled stop in Iraq to attempt to quiet fears the Americas are abandoning the region and retreating from a fight with ISIS. Pompeo attempted to maintain America still stood with the Kurds.
Meanwhile, Security Advisor John Bolton was whisked off to Israel to attempt to quiet Israeli fears that the US was turning the ship around and running. Leaving the door wide open in Syria for Iranian advances caused Trump’s stock with Israel to drop lower than the decline in the American stock market!
The administration is suddenly hedging their bets saying any withdrawal will come slowly … and yet news reports say equipment is now being withdrawn. Really? Who is running this show?
Far from ending anything, Trump’s pronouncement has only further increased fear and vulnerability for Israel and other countries in the region.
Regardless of what promises Trump campaigned on, an American President is expected to make decisions on the current conditions and not abandon world leadership simply because attention needs to be diverted away from their own personal scandals.
Let’s face the facts. The enemy is Assad and the threat is Iran. ISIS remains fighting and is not defeated.