U.S. as the sheriff of paralyzed minds in the Middle East

MOJTABA BARGHANDAN
Published
President Donald Trump meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (not pictured) during the World Economic Forum annual meeting, Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 25. (Reuters Photo)
President Donald Trump meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (not pictured) during the World Economic Forum annual meeting, Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 25. (Reuters Photo)

By forming a tripartite alliance with Saudi Arabia and Israel, the U.S. aims to direct the Middle East according to its interests, but confronts other regional actors like Turkey and Iran

The Middle East has been experiencing its most unpleasant scene in the 21st century so far. Its bitter, enduring heritage re-emerged as the most difficult challenge ever to U.S. interventions in the region and major regional actors' efforts to make a collective impact. One of the most perilous of all since 2017 has been the U.S.-Saudi-Israeli triangle that jeopardized the region with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri's resignation and later with U.S. President Donald Trump's decree to fulfill the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, and later on with the U.S. new policies to divide Syria from the East of Afrin by giving overt support to the terrorist groups.

In line with this, while people around the world are anxious and there are waves of condemnation against these decisions, countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel insistently support provocative and nasty decisions and policies.

It is important to understand the backbone of the process by providing relevant evidence for its roots and the reasons behind the policies.

The nature of the triangle

First, U.S.-Israeli relations are a single soul dwelling in two bodies. Israel's unconditional survival has been a top priority for every U.S. leader's foreign and domestic policy. They have exhibited the same policies and concerns with regard to any development in countries like Iran, Syria and Lebanon, and Israel has been the first destination for every U.S. leader's first visit to the Middle East.

Second, concerning Israel-Saudis relations, a) Wahhabism has no relation with Islam because it is a cult and b) Zionism and Wahhabisim materialized with the same mentality.

There is much evidence to prove this. First, Israel and its affiliated media outlets have clandestinely and deceptively used the phrase Islamic terrorism instead of Wahhabi terrorism despite the fact that these two mentalities ere behind the creation and emergence of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, al-Nusra Front, Boko Haram, Daesh and so forth. Second, the similarity of fatwas from Daesh, the Saudis and Israel – Israeli Communication Minister Ayoob Kara months before praised the Saudi mufti who called Hamas a terrorist group.

Some keys of Trump's decree

One, it reveals the nasty intentions of the U.S. administration and further discredits the U.S. for those who still have confidence in the neutrality of Washington in the mirage-like trend of peace talks.

Two, it is the most dangerous and threatening of all the U.S. has applied to the region, at least in the 21st century. The evidence for this argument is Trump's response to the concerns of people around the globe and world leaders. He said: "We are fully aware of the risks and consequences." The Islamic world's stances, the collective act of defiance to Washington with a lopsided majority of U.N. members rebuking the Trump administration's plan, denouncing its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and ignoring his threats to retaliate by cutting aid to countries voting against it are evidence, as well.

The Saudis' position

Saudi Arabia expressed its concern about the escalation of crises in the region. Nonetheless, it is not in a position, at least for the time being, to adopt a decisive stance like the collective defiance by the majority of the U.N. General Assembly. Saudi Arabia is dependent on U.S. military and political support to get rid of the Middle East quagmire, in particular in Yemen and Syria, and also for its domestic policy. It is seriously dependent on controlled oil prices with which the U.S. can be of great help; otherwise, it could inflict huge economic loss and lead to a domestic uprising.

On the other hand, weeks before Trump announced his decision, Saudi Arabia went a little further and tried to persuade Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a private meeting in Washington to sign a new peace proposal; however, Abbas did not compromise because of the consequences for Palestinians. To recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was part of that new proposal. The evidence for this stance is the memories of Yaakov Nagel, a former Israeli national security adviser. He once said that Saudi Arabia just likes to have friendly ties with anti-Iran and anti-Muslim Israel and the nature of the agreement between Israel and Palestine has not been a real concern at all for Saudi Arabia.

Consequently, if we suppose Trump's decree is nonbinding and therefore largely symbolic, it has had at least some outcomes: He tested Muslims' tolerance, and he exercised superficial confidence building with Saudi Arabia. It also largely preoccupied the media and officials from the region and outside. It has provided the U.S. opportunities to employ new policies to divide Syria, by supporting the terrorist groups under a new umbrella in Afrin as a means of exerting new pressures on Turkey under the triangle framework.

Trump will try other ways to renew the process, and his possible future insistence on his decree will have serious regional and international ramifications. It also appears that Saudi Arabia will stand on the front line of U.S.-baked Middle East plans by insisting on its policies in Yemen and Syria as well as its harsh anti-Iran position. During the recent demonstrations in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel cooperated with the U.S. in provoking and encouraging protestors. Thus, Trump is trying to find an ultimate way to bring Saudi Arabia in a real confrontation with certain countries as a sort of bargaining chip to fulfill the U.S.'s Middle East plan.

Iran will insist on defensive policies based on respect for regional and its own specific redlines. Iran's regional redlines are based on Articles 3, 11, 14, 152 and 154 of its constitution, which emphasize the unity of Islamic nations in all aspects and unwavering support for the oppressed and defending their rightful struggles. Thus, Iran's regional policies and positions conform more to and are more in line with the compliance and collective will of Muslims.

A collective stance by Turkey and Iran is the ultimate hope for bringing peace back to the region. The region will be left in the abyss of annihilation if they become dismantled or weakened on the chessboard. Officials from both countries have reiterated that their security is intertwined and that they are threatened by similar security concerns. With the same effect, serious official and public will in Turkey and Iran have saved the region on various occasions despite their overt objections to each other's policies on some regional issues. The most recent examples are the two countries adopting similar positions on Iraqi Kurdistan's independence referendum, which backfired spectacularly, and also Trump's decree on Jerusalem.

Geopolitical positions and geographic proximity are mutually significant for Turkey and Iran. Their commonalities have strong power to bring them to the table to produce united thought without any influence or presence from non-regional actors. Also, the evidence to this is that for the first time in four decades, high-ranking military and security officials from both countries met and exchanged views. This conveyed a warning to outsiders and a slap to the triangle.

The evidence explicitly indicates which actors form the backbone of terrorism and violence in the region. The United States is the sheriff of paralyzed minds – both the sheriff and the paralyzed minds will not give up their atrocities to Muslims and the region. The region needs ultimate synergy between Turkey and Iran, as the minimal differences in their positions on the ongoing developments in northwest Syria by no means overshadows their will for cooperation, but rather reflects their concerns both for securing their own red lines and regional stability.

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