Trump’s Middle East Foreign Policy


Ever since Donald Trump was elected as the president of United States in 2016, it has spelled nothing but trouble for the Muslim community and several Middle Eastern countries. From heavily supplying Saudi Arabia with militia to stirring the pot in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Trump has put into order several policies that have enraged most of the Muslim population. He even went as far as imposing travel bans on several Muslim countries.

Right after he was elected, Trump made his first international trip to Saudi Arabia. He had initially outright claimed that he did not care too much and has little to no interest in the middle east. However, he still managed to make a 110-billion-U.S.-dollar arms deal during his first visit to Saudi. This deal has led to the supply of heavy militia to Saudi who, until now, have waged wars in Yemen and Qatar, virtually kidnapped the pro-American Lebanese Prime Minister in a bungled attempt to weaken Hezbollah (a Shia militia group) among many other things. Reports have claimed that these weapons are being supplied to third parties via Saudi Arabia which is technically illegal as per the deal. These weapons have landed with groups like Al-Qaeda and others who are key factors in the ongoing war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia has proven to be responsible for various horrific attacks in the past and authorities are now talking about putting a forced end to this deal. Trump, however, seems to be favouring Saudi Arabia for multiple reasons.

One of the primary ones being – to reinstate the ruined relations between the two nations. During the presidency of his predecessor, Barack Obama, the American government joined in on the Iran Nuclear Weapons deal, more famously known as The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This deal limited the use of nuclear weapons by Iran, but was heavily criticised by Trump and Saudi Arabia since this deal would not only make Iran stronger in the future financially, but also wouldn’t take away their capability to manufacture nuclear weapons in the future since the deal was to last for only 15 years. As expected, Trump withdrew from this deal during his presidency which resulted in the removal of various sanctions from Iran hence crippling them financially.

With the Iran-Palestinian conflict, he has asked to ditch the two-state solution. In this case, Trump seems to be favouring Iran over Palestine. He earlier made Jerusalem the capital of Iran which led to several angry Palestinians and in his recent announcements, he vocalised his plans about letting Israel take over 30 percent of the West Bank.

Syria, a nation which has been war-ridden since 2011, has been facing some serious consequences of the almost decade long civil war. The war soon took a sectarian viewpoint as well. By June 2013, the UN said 90,000 people had been killed in the conflict. By August 2015, that figure had climbed to 250,000, according to activists and the UN [Source: BBC]. According to reports, over 4.5 million people have fled from Syria, with about 10% seeking refuge in European countries and the rest in the neighbouring countries like Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. All these countries are facing a terrible front in terms of the resources available. During Obama’s presidency, he launched a U.S. air campaign against the Islamic State in Syria. They recruited, organized, and advised thousands of Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters, dubbed the Syrian Democratic Forces, and pushed IS out of most of its strongholds [Military Times]. Trump, recently, announced the withdrawal of American troops from Syria, saying that their primary interest lied in defeating the ISIS and there was no other reason why the US would want to be a part of their matter. This decision has been heavily criticized by several sources since it is very evident that ISIS has not been fully curbed yet. So far, US has cut some 230 million dollars in reconstruction aid and ended the military aid in Syria, except for a few soldiers who have been left to guard the oil fields, which Trump claims to be owned by the US and not Syria. Due to the withdrawal of one of the major militaries and monetary contributors, not only will Syria now have to face dire consequences but also the further uncertainty of how long the war might last.

Trump does not seem to care about his hasty actions and the disastrous repercussions and has shown no interest in promoting political reform or bolstering democratic norms – as he demonstrated soon after taking office with his so-called Muslim travel ban [Source: Research Gate]. Whether directly or indirectly, Trump and his ignorant policies have been changing the course for the Middle Eastern nations, most of which seems to be going disastrously for them. What happens in the future about these policies is unknown, but one thing is clear, their sovereignty is not completely safe.

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