U.S. President Donald Trump has ploughed into the Middle East conflict like an absurd member of a new age cult, making ongoing problems even worse. His actions have triggered an apocalypse in an already unstable area and the Middle East has become paralyzed to do anything in the process.
Maybe Iraq, Syria and Libya could have intervened if they had not failed to solve their own security problems, but while the region suffers from turmoil, the Muslim world is struggling with its own ethnic and sectarian differences. Due to the phobia of the Muslim Brotherhood and transformation of the Arab spring in favor of Iran, Gulf countries have been paralyzed, while economic and political turmoil in Egypt and the political "hurdle cleaning" actions by the Saudi administration provided a very important opportunity for the U.S. and Israel to dictate terms on the peace process, which would normally never have been accepted by the Palestinians.
As a pragmatic businessman, Trump proved how little he understands the reality of the Middle East and the Muslim world. Having trouble with the establishment in his country, he has tried to act, but the establishment should have known the disastrous effects of his policies in the region.
There is no doubt that Trump's decision to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel continues to put the Middle East on a knife's edge, increasing tension in the chaotic region and inflaming Muslim feelings all over the world. Due to the sacred status of Jerusalem and al-Aqsa compound, there will be consequences and unpredicted outcomes for his decision. So, this strategy may lead to a new revolutionary wave in the Middle East and Muslim world.
Possible mindset of Trump
We should, for old times' sake, try to understand the reasons behind why our "ex-ally" and strategic partner has recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moved the U.S. Embassy to this city. Arab countries have been dealing with their own failures, and none of them have so far attempted to resolve their ongoing conflicts. Even their notorious nationalist and patriotic dictators have not been able to advocate resistance against chronic attacks from Israel. The Gulf countries have shown their alliance with the U.S., but none of the legitimately or illegitimately chosen leaders in the Arab countries will be able to explain the legalization of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel to their people, just as Ayyubid Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil was unable to do in the Middle Ages. The founder of the Ayyubids, Salahuddin al-Ayyubi, is well known for the taking Jerusalem from the Crusaders. His nephew al-Malik al-Kamil tried to gain support from the Crusaders against his rival brothers with granting the Europeans possession of Jerusalem in return. As a result, the city was passed to the Crusaders. Yet although al-Malik al-Kamil was a powerful and successful ruler, this action casts a shadow on his career.
As a person from the Middle East, I would like to remind our U.S. friends not to undermine the Arab Street, which has been craving stability in the region for a long time. The U.S. has long claimed it is fighting terrorism. But although its sophisticated doctrines call for the promotion of democracy and human rights around the world, it is not hard to see these are merely words with no action. For instance, just recently, we witnessed how their counter-terror strategies against Daesh did not work. Instead, they paved the way for other terrorist groups, such as the PKK-affiliated Syrian organizations, to strengthen their positions as the U.S. choose not to cooperate with its strategic ally. While Daesh and other terrorist groups lost their impact in Jerusalem, U.S. policies have made it possible for them to revive. I hope U.S. policymakers are aware of the possible outcomes of this strategy. If this is done purposely, then we will have nothing to say.
According to media reports, the newest peace plan suggests that Abu Dis, a separated suburb of East Jerusalem from Israel's Wall, could be the Palestinian capital. The peace plan also promises some land in northern Sinai for the Palestinian state. It all comes back to the fact that this process has been set up by Israel. For those who consider Hamas some kind of Muslim Brotherhood group, they should know that even Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas could not accept such a plan. He would never want to become the person to betray Palestine. One wonders how imposing this plan on the Palestinians and Hamas can lead to a peace process.The increasing influence of Iran is a disturbing fact for the U.S. due to its numerous threats to destroy Israel. On the other hand, if the Gulf States do not react against the new peace plan, it will create a foundation for the blooming of Iran's position in the Arab and Muslim world. Sunnis as well as Shiites would take the side of Iran during this process and this would also be an important opportunity to increase the fighting strength of Hezbollah.
The decision will give rise to anti-American sentiment; Trump's daring diplomacy is similar to the situation where the grizzly bear enters a Middle Eastern glassware store and destroys everything – forgetting that the broken glasses will eventually cause harm to itself. Trump's strategy has a lot in common with Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani's independence referendum strategy that blew up in his face. The same results are to be expected soon from Trump's strategies.
* Professor in Faculty of Political Sciences at Marmara University