Sep 13, 2020
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Election peacemaker: what is behind Trump’s increased political activity in the Middle East

Donald Trump announced that the United States will continue to withdraw its troops from the Middle East as the situation in the region stabilizes. The head of the White House stressed that Washington is now moving "in the opposite direction to the previous direction, when all over the region only fought and shed blood." According to experts, these measures are due to Trump's desire to identify himself to the electorate as a "peacemaker" on the eve of the elections. In addition, political analysts believe that the 45th President of the United States is trying to stand out in this way from a number of his predecessors, who more than once initiated military campaigns abroad.

The United States intends to continue the withdrawal of troops from the Middle East as the situation in the region stabilizes. This was stated by Donald Trump, commenting on the agreement reached between Israel and Bahrain to establish diplomatic relations.

“As more and more (Arab. - RT) countries will normalize relations with Israel, which, in our opinion, will happen very quickly, the region will become more stable, secure and prosperous, ”the American leader said.

He also stressed that the US is withdrawing "most of its soldiers" from the Middle East.

“So we are moving in the opposite direction, when in the whole region we only fought and shed blood. The sand was soaked in blood. And now there will be peace on this sand, ”Trump said.

According to him, the United States "will continue to support the peoples of the region and build a brighter and more promising future with them."

Earlier, on September 10, the American leader said that the number of the US military contingent in Afghanistan would soon be reduced to 4 thousand, and in Iraq - to 2 thousand.

"It's about rotation"

Commenting on Trump's promises, political scientists admit that the withdrawal of part of the American contingent from Afghanistan and Iraq "can indeed be carried out in the very near future."

“In Afghanistan, this operation is made more secure by bilateral agreements between Washington and the Taliban *. The withdrawal of troops from Iraq is primarily due to the fact that the war with IS ** as a quasi-state is actually over and there is no legitimate reason for the Americans to remain in this country, "a leading researcher at the Center for Arab and Islamic Research Institute of Oriental Studies RAS Boris Dolgov.

However, in his opinion, the withdrawal of the American contingent from Afghanistan and Iraq does not mean that these troops will return to the United States.

“Most likely, they will be redeployed to other countries in the Middle East. Let me remind you that the United States has military bases in Jordan, as well as on the territory of the Persian Gulf countries, in particular Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. So Trump's measures are unlikely to lead to a reduction in the American military presence in the region as a whole, which hardly changes the essence of US policy in the Middle East, "the expert emphasized.

  • US military in Iraq, August 31, 2016
  • Reuters
  • © Azad Lashkari

Andrey Sidorov, head of the Department of International Organizations and World Political Processes at the Faculty of World Politics at Moscow State University, adheres to a similar position.

“The reduction of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq does not mean the return of the American military to the United States. This is most likely about rotation. Trump believes that it would be best for Washington to have more American troops in those territories where the situation is more or less calm. Perhaps, in this sense, he will stake on Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Bahrain, with whom he will be able to cooperate and build his own combinations there in relation to the entire region, ”Sidorov says.

In addition, in his opinion, the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan is also conditioned by the desire of the head of the White House to cut costs on "failed military operations, which, from his point of view, do not bring any benefit to the United States."

“Trump wants to avoid the image losses that the Americans are suffering in these countries, since they cannot achieve victory, which means that the meaning of their stay there, from the point of view of the White House, is lost,” the expert explained.

"Israel's Full Support"

We also note that Trump announced that an agreement had been reached between the Kingdom of Bahrain and Israel on the normalization of diplomatic relations through the mediation of the United States.

“In a spirit of peace and cooperation, both leaders have also agreed that Bahrain will fully normalize its diplomatic relations with Israel. They will exchange embassies and ambassadors, open direct flights between their countries, and launch cooperation initiatives across a wide range of sectors, including health, business, technology, education, security and agriculture. This is a truly historic day, ”the American leader stressed.

According to him, Washington expects that "most of the countries in the region will eventually join the agreement and the Palestinians will find themselves in a very good position."

“They want to join, they will want it, since all their friends will participate in the agreement. We look forward to the addition of new countries to the deal with great enthusiasm, ”the head of the White House said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his video message called the agreement on the establishment of diplomatic ties with Manama historic.

Tehran condemned the decision to normalize relations between Bahrain and Israel, calling it a “shameful” step. This is stated in a statement by the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

According to Andrei Sidorov, the fact that Bahrain actually made concessions to the United States can be explained by "the extremely dependent position of Manama on Washington."

“This state is one of the recipients of American aid. In addition, the 5th US Navy Fleet is stationed in Bahrain, ”the expert noted.

  • Israeli battle tank on the Israeli border with Gaza
  • AFP
  • © Said Khatib

At the same time, Andrei Sidorov drew attention to the fact that Trump himself regards the agreements on the normalization of relations between Bahrain and Israel "as a serious foreign policy victory."

Boris Dolgov, in turn, predicts that this agreement under the auspices of the United States "will cause protest from a number of states" in the Middle East.

“In addition to Iran, which has already announced its position, other countries in the region opposing Israeli policy towards Palestine will react extremely negatively to what is happening. Relations between them and Bahrain will also worsen, ”the analyst said.

We will remind, on August 13, Trump also announced the complete normalization of bilateral relations between Israel and the UAE. According to these agreements, the Israeli side will suspend the extension of its sovereignty to Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

In addition, following the talks on the settlement of the Kosovo issue with the participation of Belgrade and Pristina, mediated by Washington, the head of the White House also announced that by July 2021 Serbia will move its embassy to Jerusalem, and Kosovo will establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

As Sidorov sums up, Trump over the years of his presidency "has formed an absolutely clear political line focused on full support for Israel."

“This aspect is at the center of all his Middle East views. The head of the White House is taking consistent steps in this matter, betting on Israel, ”the expert stated.

"Not like Obama"

Almost all of Trump's actions in the Middle East region "are aimed at emphasizing that he does not behave like his predecessor Barack Obama," says Andrei Sidorov.

“It is very important for Trump to be different from his predecessors. After all, almost every American leader invaded somewhere or started a new conflict, ”the expert says.

At this stage, in the midst of the election campaign, when there are less than two months left before the vote, Trump "feels even more acutely the need to position himself as a peacemaker," the analyst said.

  • White House
  • Reuters
  • © Larry Downing

“The incumbent head of the White House for this purpose uses the thesis that he is the only American president who, during his time in power, did not carry out a single new military adventure. This is one of the few trump cards that remained in his electoral deck. Therefore, he will use it, most likely, even more actively as the vote approaches, "Sidorov said.

In addition, from his point of view, now taking a number of active measures, in particular on the Israeli issue, the American leader "counts on the US Jewish lobby, on its support during the election campaign."

“This is a pretty powerful lobbying group in the United States. In addition, Trump is counting on a large diaspora of representatives of the Jewish people, ”the expert recalled.

Boris Dolgov adheres to a similar position. According to him, Trump's actions in the Middle East should be considered, among other things, "within the framework of the election race."

“They are aimed primarily at increasing the rating of the American leader before the elections, at increasing the number of his supporters. This is how the head of the White House wants to make a positive impression on voters, ”Dolgov stressed.

As for the further US policy in the Middle East, analysts believe it will depend on a number of factors.

“First of all, from whoever comes to the White House. If Trump stays there, he will continue to strengthen the national element in the US foreign policy strategy. If the former Vice-President of the United States Joe Biden is in power, then the country will surely face a rollback towards Obama's course. Also, an important role in these processes will be played by the Pentagon and the balance of power in the Congress, ”Sidorov concluded.

* "Taliban" - the organization was recognized as terrorist by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of February 14, 2003.

** "Islamic State" (IS, ISIS) - the organization was recognized as terrorist by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of December 29, 2014.

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