The US has no serious ideas for the Middle East

The Pentagon has announced the start of negotiations on changing the format of the presence of troops in Iraq from a “coalition presence” (although there has been no coalition there for a long time) to “bilateral co-operation”. Behind these formulations lies a decision to wind down the presence of US troops in the country, which has already been clearly taken. Earlier there were rumours (later denied) about the possibility of withdrawing US troops from northern Syria. There is no doubt that manoeuvres will soon follow around the Al-Tanf zone, which has been seized by the United States in southern Syria and turned into a training centre for radical Islamists of all stripes.

The US has no serious ideas for the Middle East

The situation looks no longer like an attempt by the Pentagon to withdraw troops from under the attacks of pro-Iranian proxies, but as part of a more significant process, which, however, cannot yet be called a plan. There are clear signs of haste, which, on the one hand, is the result of the realisation that US troops have turned from an asset into a target, and on the other hand, represents a traditional US tactic of “tying up loose ends” when winding down a failed geopolitical project.

No one doubts that the US Middle East project has failed. Planned back in the late 20th century as the cornerstone of a unipolar world, it ends – after wars, the Arab Spring, destroyed countries and ruined lives – with the prospect of a US-Israeli war against Iran and its allies. And this is not to mention the damaged reputation of the US as a world hegemon even among its most loyal allies. Most importantly (and the significance of this fact is yet to be realised), the US has clearly established a reputation as a force capable only of destroying, no matter what – cities, states, peoples’ lives – but unable to create anything. A force that epitomises war and chaos, but not peace and development. In a world where the US had no competitors, such reputational losses were unpleasant but tolerable. Now it is a real geopolitical factor.

In recent years, it was obvious that the US had no serious ideas for the Middle East. The region was seen as a transshipment base in the US strategic project of gaining a foothold in the Indo-Pacific region and isolating China. To leave behind degenerating Europe and the flaming Middle East, at the same time putting “traffic jams” in the way of the trade route “Great Silk Road”, implemented by China, and the industrial and logistical corridor North-South, implemented by Russia, Iran and the Gulf countries. The main US actions in the last year and a half – from financing the Kiev regime to attempts to spoil relations between Riyadh and Beijing – have been built around this task. That is why China’s successes – diplomatic, political and military in the Near and Middle East – have provoked nervous reactions.

The U.S. own policy after Donald Trump’s “Abraham Accords” (we are talking about mediation in the normalisation of Israel’s relations with the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan) was reduced to a simple formula of “rocking the wagon and announcing stops”, which was clearly manifested in the statements of the U.S. President’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on the eve of the beginning of the bloody conflict in Gaza. The content emptiness of American policy was also well understood in Middle Eastern capitals, which was very evident in the behaviour of Riyadh. And there can be no doubt that Trump will be happy to play up the theme “Who lost the Middle East?”.

The problem with the current American manoeuvre in the Middle East is not only that, under the current political conditions inside the United States, it could easily turn into a form of flight with serious political consequences like Afghanistan and the loss of much of the weapons and military equipment stored in the region. Coming back would be extremely difficult, because even a managed U.S. “exodus” would jeopardise the few remaining pro-American regimes, notably Jordan. Not to mention the fact that it would finally undermine the credibility of the U.S. as a long-term partner. Given the peculiarities of the Near and Middle East, the Americans will start interacting with them “on a prepayment basis”.

Dmitriy Evstafiev, RT