Landmark agreements reinforce Trump’s image as a peacemaker
US President Donald Trumps’ quest for a second term in November is proving difficult but not impossible. The coronavirus disease pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 190,000 Americans to date and is now the main factor threatening its return. But, as recent polls show, the gap between him and Democratic candidate Joe Biden is narrowing as the United States enters one of the most bizarre election seasons in history. A provocative Trump questions the integrity of postal voting, which favors Democrats, and warns that the November 3 ballot could be rigged.
Experts predict that the final election results could take weeks, if not months, to count and a heavy legal battle awaits us. If he loses, Trump will challenge the outcome amid a deeply polarized America. Either way, the United States faces difficult months ahead.
But what would a second term for Trump mean for the Middle East? A flamboyant Trump has won some important foreign policy victories ahead of the election. Bahrain followed the UAE last week in announcing it would normalize its relations with Israel, and these landmark agreements will bolster Trump’s image as a peacemaker in a region plagued by conflict and turmoil. troubles.
Other Arab countries could take similar steps before November 3 and, if Trump wins a second term, one might expect to see a new normal in the region, where Israel is emerging as the backbone of a new alliance. regional. Trump will continue to reduce the physical presence of the Americas in the region, while supporting an Arab-Israeli proxy alliance that aims to address threats posed by Iran and Turkey. The Gulf countries, in particular, see these two rivals as aiming to expand their influence in the Arab region and as posing an existential threat. This is the new Trumps security doctrine for the region. One of its main consequences is the disengagement of Israel’s new allies from what was once the central Arab cause: the Palestinian question.
Trump’s vision for peace between Israel and the Palestinians will remain one of many initiatives aimed at resolving this decades-old conflict. A second term for Trump is less likely to push for such a settlement. The Trumps Peace team will instead focus their efforts on consolidating the new Arab-Israeli alliance. His gestures towards the Palestinians, if any, will not be sincere.
Trump will push for further US troop withdrawals from Iraq, Afghanistan and, at some point, Syria. Its anti-Iranian strategy will remain intact in accordance with the new Israeli-Arab alliance. A second term for Trump would be catastrophic for cash-strapped Iran. Containment of Tehran will increase the pressure on the regime, but also push it further towards Russia and China. Regime collapse will not be imminent, and extremists are likely to expand their control of the state to the detriment of so-called moderates. Iranian interference in Iraqi and Syrian affairs will continue. For Iraq, further withdrawals of American troops will make Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Gadhimis’ mission even more difficult in the face of rogue militias. The priority of the trump will be to bring the troops home at all costs.
A second term for Trump would be catastrophic for cash-strapped Iran. The containment of Tehran will increase the pressure on the regime.
Regional polarization will intensify as the United States relies more on regional intermediaries. Trump does not have a clear strategy for dealing with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is emerging as a destabilizing factor in the region. Whether in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Qatar or the Eastern Mediterranean, Ankara has become a key player with an ambitious colonial program. Its alliance with Russia, in defiance of NATO, of which it is a member, has not been controlled by Washington. A second term for Trump is unlikely to change his attitude towards Erdogans regional adventures.
The biggest regional challenge during Trumps’ second term will be who will fill the void left by the departure of the United States. Russia’s intervention in Syria in 2015 became a milestone in the Muscovy’s growing regional influence, which now spans Libya, Turkey, Iran, and even Iraq. One is more likely to see active Russian diplomatic, economic and military activity in the region under Trump’s second term. The departure of the Americas from the Middle East will also give China the opportunity to expand its economic influence and forge new partnerships.
A Trump victory would underscore new geopolitical realities, with the Arab-Israeli alliance taking center stage. It will be interesting to see how long this alliance can last and how it will be tested. The United States will feed it, but it will coincide with a deliberate withdrawal from a region Trump sees as becoming less strategically important to America. It remains to be seen what this American disengagement will lead to in terms of the formation of new alliances and the evolution of local conflicts in countries such as Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya.
- Osama Al-Sharif is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman. Twitter: @ plato010
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the editors of this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arab News
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