There are A LOT of questions President Trump has to answer.
Thus far, the 45th president has had a tough time in office, with allegations of ties to Russia constantly dogging him. His recent health care bill, to put it mildly, was a “disaster”, and his executive travel ban appears to be indefinitely suspended.
While the American people have certainly had a glimpse of how Trump will run the country for the next few years in some areas, there are still other areas that are still murky.
One of these areas is foreign policy, specifically, U.S. policy in the Middle East.
While the travel ban gave the American people an idea on how Trump might try to keep them safe, there are still many questions on how Trump will deal with issues in the Middle Eastern region.
Trump has revealed very little about how he will deal with ISIS, the continually escalating Palestine-Israeli conflict, and Syria.
Trump’s predecessor, Barak Obama, was extremely reticent when it came to real, physical American intervention in the Middle East.
Obama chose to keep American troops in Afghanistan, but in other areas of the Middle East, he decided to use drones and bombing airstrikes to eliminate terrorist threats. While Obama did decide to send troops to Libya and Syria, they were very small in number and were mainly used to gather intelligence.
During the Obama years, the United States seemed passive concerning issues in the Middle East, and it hurt America’s position in the Middle East greatly. Obama’s lack of strategy in the Middle East and his reluctance to use military power allowed Russia to gain considerable influence in Syria, saw the rise of the Islamic State, opened up a divide between Israel and the United States, and destabilized the Middle East, as the Middle East went through arguably its most violent period since the years following the end of World War II.
It seemed that on the front lines, the United States was missing when its allies were trying to combat the problems of the Middle East. Not only did this hurt the United States’ reputation with its allies, it damaged its reputation globally, as America failed to be the “world deterrent” that it had once established itself to be in the years since the Cold War.
It wasn’t Obama’s intentions in the Middle East that were entirely wrong, but rather his attitude toward the region that was the problem.
During his presidency, Obama was bogged down with many domestic issues and he attempted to address them. This focus on domestic issues gave the impression that Obama wasn’t concerned with the Middle East and didn’t care about its issues.
Most notably, Obama failed to help the Green Movement in Iran, which dealt with the issues in Iran’s presidential election. He failed to follow through with his “red-line” threat in Syria, after chemical weapons were used.
Under Obama, the United States failed to be the stabilizing presence that it had been in the Middle East for years. Now that we have a new President, what role will the United States play in the Middle East?
Trump’s goals in the Middle East are unclear. During his election campaign, he bombastically promised to “bomb the hell out of ISIS” and to “kill terrorists and their families”. He also promised a complete and total “Muslim ban.” Further, he appeared to be cozying up to Israel and Netanyahu. His campaign rhetoric gave small glimpses into his future strategy in the Middle East. With Trump as President, it is unclear what his strategy in the Middle East is. He appears to have backtracked from some of his campaign rhetoric and does not seem to be in lockstep with Netanyahu.
The most important thing for Trump is his attitude towards the Middle East. He needs to let the Middle Eastern countries know that the U.S. is very concerned with their interests and concerns and that America is devoted to addressing the region’s issues. Trump also needs to rebuild the trust between the U.S. and some of its Middle Eastern allies- mainly Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
It is vital that Trump establishes the U.S. as the strong stabilizing presence it once was in the Middle East and reassure its allies of its commitment to fighting terrorism and its cooperation to ensure peace in the region.