Trump isolates US as Russia follows inclusionary foreign policies

YUSUF SELMAN İNANÇ @yusufsinanc
Istanbul
Published
U.S. President Donald J. Trump (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk during a break of the leader's meeting at the 25th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, Vietnam, Nov. 11, 2017.
U.S. President Donald J. Trump (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk during a break of the leader's meeting at the 25th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, Vietnam, Nov. 11, 2017.

Contrary to Russia's broader, encompassing policies that take the focus off its domestic politics, Washington's recent moves have only worked to isolate the U.S. and caused widespread disappointment among its allies

By the time former U.S. President Barack Obama left office, U.S. allies in the Middle East were displeased, disappointed and unhappy with his policies. His so-called fight against Daesh had resulted in strengthening the PKK-affiliated Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has been waging a war against Turkey and Western-backed opposition groups. The nuclear deal with Iran – from which the U.S. has recently pulled out of as a part of U.S. President Donald Trump's grand scheme – had made Israel deeply upset. The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), holding some Saudi nationals responsible for the 9/11 attacks, was another matter. More importantly, his inaction against the Syrian regime, Iranian expansion and Russian intervention in Syria made everything worse in the eyes of Middle Eastern allies. There was a widespread expectation that this ambiguous policy would undergo a change under the Trump administration.

Trump's policies have worsened everything so far, regional actors believe. The support for the PYD has increased. The decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the possibility of recognizing Israeli sovereignty at Golan Heights have escalated the tensions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It apparent that the Trump administration has decided to work closely with Israel and Saudi Arabia, while hopes for stability in the region in the short-term have disappeared.

Despite its balanced policy in the region, Turkey has received harsh criticism for its relations with Russia. Ankara has made a deal with Moscow to procure S-400 defense missile systems. The presidents of the two countries have held several meetings on several issues and relations have overcome deep crises. In contrast with Russia's policy, which deals with the matters separately to an extent, the U.S. seems to be obsessed with Turkey's domestic policies and willing to interfere its relations with other countries. For instance, Russia has given full support to Turkey in its struggle against the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which orchestrated the July 15 coup that left more than 250 dead, whereas the U.S. has avoided demonstrating its support for Turkey through proposing many arguments. Similarly, the U.S. presence in Syria's north and the fact that Washington has been explicitly supporting the PKK elements in their war against Turkey, have damaged the relations between the two countries terribly. In addition, the U.S. has discussed halting the sale of F-35 warplanes to Turkey. These discussions have produced allegations in the Turkish media claiming a Russian-made equivalent warplane may be considered.

This not only affects Turkey, but the whole world. The U.S.' harsh words, contradictory statements and ambivalent policies in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America have paved the way for Russia to convince many countries to deepen their relations with Moscow. The latest example was Indian President Narendra Modi's visit meant to increase the bilateral relations, not only in trade but also nuclear energy.

The U.S. move in Jerusalem has created anger across the Muslim world and not drawn support from Europe. Trump's latest statements on the economy, implicitly suggesting that the U.S. did not need Europe, the decision to abandon the Paris climate accord last week and the nuclear deal issue have resulted in disfavor from the European capitals.

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