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Trump reasserts ‘traditional’ US role in Middle East

25th Jan 2019
Trump reasserts ‘traditional’ US role in Middle East

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo greets Saudi Ambassador to the Uited States Khalid bin Salman upon arrival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on April 28, 2018

(State Department photo/ Public Domain)

“I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.” President Barak Obama, June 4, 2009.

If it was already not dead before, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, was sent to Cairo this month by President Donald Trump to bury his predecessor’s initiative a decade ago to build better relations with the Muslim World. Like his other destructive policies since coming to office two years ago, there was nothing new suggested to replace it, only that Washington wanted to reassert its “traditional role” in the Middle East. “We have rejected false overtures from enemies,” the former CIA Director proclaimed.

After presenting a reality television game show for its first 14 seasons from 2004, the difficulty for Trump to step up to be the leader of the world’s most powerful country should not be underestimated. Yet within two years, he has reversed Obama’s policies on the Iran nuclear deal, hosts of trade agreements and the Paris climate change accord, not to mention developing his own policies such as banning Muslims from entering the country and scores of domestic policies. Like with the catchphrase of ‘You’re fired!’ from his days as host of The Apprentice, Trump has removed many of his ministers and advisors around him after falling out with them.

The Middle East, unfortunately, has never been what could be claimed as a foreign policy success for the US even before the advent of the real estate tycoon running roughshod over the White House and other American institutions.

History is littered with so many failures of dubious interference whether by the brutal force of military means or unscrupulous collaborations with Israel and the many Arab autocracies in the region.

In its wake, there has been wide-scale destruction in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere in the Muslim world carried out by the US or its proxies. Emboldened by his pledge to influential American pro-Israel voters, Trump went one stage further than all his predecessors did in breaching international conventions and norms last year by moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and backing the holy city to be the capital of Israel despite its special status.

In his address, in which he criticised the policies of former President Obama, Pompeo seems to ignore the realities in the region and the decades of collective angst created toward the US and its policies by attempting to rewrite history. Whether officially admitted or not, American policies in the Middle East are based solely upon its own strategic interests, independent of its effect on others. To camouflage it as anything else is equivalent to blatant deceit.

There can be no doubt that Washington is simply seeking to protect its hunger for the resources in the oil-rich region by supporting the status quo regardless of the human rights violations committed by autocratic governments. This often entails opposing any serious political progress or economic development. It is also centred on its strategic support for Israel as a permanent destabilising factor.

Current US policy in the Middle East, which has no clear direction, instead of bringing stability, is creating chaos and loss of thousands of innocent lives.

‘Self-inflicted American shame is over’ in Middle East, says Pompeo

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