American foreign policy will haunt the Middle East for decade

Published for Backbench

President Trump has got his definition of non-interventionism all wrong. Rather than using diplomacy in foreign affairs, Trump has sought to facilitate military aggression against foreign countries.

Trump has handed out a categorical snub to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in north-east Syria. Allowing Turkey to impose a safe zone on Kurdish-held land could potentially spark a battle for land-grabs between the Turks, Kurdish forces and ISIS in a war that shows no signs of easing.

For conservative Republicans, a hawkish foreign policy has typically been on the electoral manifesto with the aim of introducing freedom and democracy to countries that have yet to do so. On the progressive left of the political spectrum, an anti-war movement has gained traction in the US since the 2003 Iraq war took place under the Bush administration. Surprisingly, Trump ran on a traditional leftist policy regarding foreign intervention and pledged to withdraw troops wherever necessary. But Trump’s foreign policy has done anything but alleviate conflict.

The SDF, fighting for a democratised Syria, have been supplied arms and ammunition by the American government in a transactional relationship that has benefitted both sides. The SDF are fierce opponents of a centralised and dictatorial Assad regime. The Kurdish-led forces have fought alongside western troops to bring harmony to Syria and to abolish an autocratic system that persecutes their rights to freedom of speech and religion. Most isolationists, aside from Trump, understand it is their imperative to protect marginalised communities in war. It would be extremely hypocritical of an isolationist White House to abandon their allies when their troops entered the Middle East with a military offensive plan.

What is further muddled about Trump’s foreign policy initiative, or lack of, is that his isolationist rhetoric coincides with his threats of war with Iran and North Korea. The harsh sanctions imposed by the US on the Iranian economy and the thwarting of the Nuclear Deal alongside Iran’s financial and military backing of the Syrian government means Trump and Iran will never be the best of acquaintances. The SDF have always been at risk of longstanding conflict with Iran due to their opposing prospects for Syria’s future. Trump has given the Iranian military a golden ticket by leaving the Kurds to fend for themselves.

Whilst the Middle East braces for a potentially dangerous war, Trump continues to publish erratic and self-aggrandising tweets that have inflamed already simmering tensions. His threat to “obliterate the economy of Turkey” if they do not comply with their safe zone route is a prime example of his pure incompetence in negotiating with and appeasing a fractious region.

The U.S have long disputed over how to deal with and help the Middle East prosper when revolt and uprisings seem relentless. With Republican’s threatening a full-scale war in one breath and withdrawing troops in the other, significant damage appears to have been done to their reputations and perhaps the Middle Easts’ future

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