President Donald Trump’s maiden foreign trip took him to one of the most troubled and complicated regions in the world, the Middle East, where political ambitions and interests cross each other, even in blocs which are supposedly bound by common interest.
The trip’s endgame echoed the policies of Bush-Cheney administration, which had been put on hold by President Obama. Bush’s policy was to destabilize all the countries which could pose threats to the US or Israel. Thus, Iraq, Libya, and Syria were devastated but the administration did not have time to hit the last target, Iran.
Mr. Trump seems to take up the same policy from that point. This aim is persistent, no matter who is at the helm.
The president made stops in Saudi Arabia and Israel, where he was soft-peddling the US policy in the region. He stated that the US was not going to dictate its views and that the countries in the region were free to adopt their own policies, domestic or foreign, which basically gave a green light to the prospective governments to continue their repressive rules. Before even the president had left the region, crackdowns took place in Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
The crowning jewel of President Trump’s visit to the region was an American-Islamic conference of 37 nations to define common policy for the region, characterized by the Washington Post as an Islamic NATO, where the US role would be confined to coordination rather than leadership.
It is hard to conceive of a NATO-type coalition in a region where interests are so divergent and conflicts run so deep, not to mention that such a grouping can survive only if its member countries are democracies.