The US and Middle East: No bright future

Published 20.10.2017 20:45

In the international arena, the balance of power changes at an unprecedented pace. I believe that traditional lecturers of foreign policy at universities must have difficulties grasping the present changes in alliances and power in international relations. Alliances and enmities among states change by the day. Yesterday's allies easily become today's enemies. If an expert on the Middle East attempts to classify the actors involved in the Syrian civil war, the attempt would end up with a very complicated map of alliances and enmity that constantly change according to time and space of the Syrian crisis. Although the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) criticizes the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in terms of inconsistency in Turkey's foreign policy, even the greatest powers of the international arena easily change their positions on foreign policy issues.

At the beginning of the Syrian civil war, a limited regional competition appeared between Turkey and Iran. While the U.S. took sides with Turkey, Russia took to the stage with Iran. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia had been in a simultaneous competition with Turkey and Iran. Although in the beginning of the crisis Saudis supported Syrian opposition groups for taking down the Syrian regime, Saudi Arabia eventually emerged as an ineffective actor in the Syrian civil war.

In a similar vein, the involvement of the U.S. in the Syrian crisis rapidly evolved into an anti-Turkish foreign policy. The U.S. supported and consolidated the power of Turkey's principal enemy, the PKK's Syrian affiliate Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its People's Protection Units (YPG) militia. On the other hand, Russia cooperated and competed with Iran and rapidly became the Syrian regime's leading ally. In Iraq, the United States and Iran together with Russia and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Masoud Barzani became allies in the war against Daesh.

Afterward, an unexpected alliance between Turkey and Russia emerged in Syria. Turkey, Russia and Iran came to terms during the Astana meetings on protecting Syria's territorial integrity and declaring and consolidating a cease-fire in the Syrian civil war. Yet, the U.S. seems to not be content with the peace declared by such an alliance.

Social sciences departments of U.S. universities concentrate their studies on subgroups in terms of ethnic and religious identities. To perpetuate war in the Middle East, American social scientists work hard on ideological and religious divisions in the region.

While the Syrian civil war appears to be resolved, an independence referendum was held in Iraqi Kurdistan. While Turkey and Iran unfortunately competed with each other during the Syrian civil war, their cooperation against Barzani's independence referendum destroyed a serious threat at its birth. Iraq's military operation forces Barzani to reconsider the regional balance of power while the U.S. seems to be indignant with Barzani for his impetuousness.

An alliance between Turkey and Iran has brought peace and stability to the region. In other words, the Syrian civil war proved that competition between Iran and Turkey will always be detrimental, not only for these two great powers in the region, but for the region as a whole.

As regional competition in the Middle East rapidly turns into international competition, the powers in the region must cooperate rather than compete with each other. While Western powers succeeded to settle down in the Middle East under the veil of fighting Daesh, the U.S. still seems to have no bright plans for the region.

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