Is Trump following in Obama’s footsteps?

Source: Is Trump following in Obama’s footsteps? – Israel Hayom

Rachel Avraham

U.S. President Donald Trump is known to loathe former President Barack Obama. When Trump was running for president, he labeled Obama “the founder of ISIS” due to his premature withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 that led to the rise of the murderous terror group.

He also labeled Obama’s Iran deal “the worst deal ever” and since he was elected, he not only ripped the Iran deal apart but also re-imposed sanctions against the Iranian regime and has given moral support to Iranian protesters who are seeking to overthrow the mullah’s government, all in stark contrast to his predecessor.

When Trump was elected president, after the free world dealt with Neville Chamberlain-like appeasement under Obama for eight years, many had high hopes that America finally had a Churchill in the White House.  Indeed, for a while, it appeared on the surface that America finally had a president who understood the dangers posed by the Iranian regime and was willing to take a stand against the mullahs.

But now, just as the Iranian regime is beginning to feel the full effect of the sanctions imposed against it, is Trump backtracking from Churchill’s path and is instead following in the footsteps of his predecessor by handing Syria over on a silver platter to Iran and Turkey? Was the U.S. withdrawal from Syria a grand betrayal of America’s allies who fought against ISIS, as U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis indicated in his resignation letter? Or is the U.S. withdrawal from Syria part of some greater strategy against the Iranian regime, as some analysts have indicated?

While it appears that all of America’s Middle Eastern allies are likely to suffer as a result of America’s withdrawal from Syria, Iranian political analyst Dr. Reza Parchizadeh believes thatTrump may have some surprises in store for us all. Trump and his top foreign policy advisers are very much aware of the consequences should the United States unconditionally withdraw from the Middle East. Given this, he says that we should not be deceived by appearances. He does not think that at this point, Trump will relent on Iran: “His administration has already invested too much in the Iranian portfolio to want to give it up now.”

Salah Bayaziddi, the U.S. representative of the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, concurs with Parchizadeh. While he believes that a full U.S. withdrawal from Syria poses a security risk to America’s allies in the Middle East, he still thinks it is too soon to foretell how Trump’s new policy will play out. Furthermore, he adds: “The U.S. has enough leverage and capabilities to control and protect its interests in Syria even without a massive military presence if still the main strategy is to curb and finish off the Iranian regime in the region.”

On the other hand, Trump is unpredictable and there have been reports that he plans to let Turkey take over the struggle against what remains of ISIS. In fact, Turkish-backed fighters in Syria are already gearing up to replace the U.S. in the region. Therefore, Trump’s announcement not only threatens the anti-ISIS struggle due to Erdogan’s track record of enabling ISIS to thrive but also risks further emboldening the Iranian regime.

Syrian Kurdish dissident Sherkoh Abbas claims that by enabling Turkey and Iran to take over all of Syria, Trump is undoing all of the good that he did by tearing up Obama’s Iran deal: “Now, with this announcement, it will be easier for Iran to bypass sanctions. All of the ports of Syria and oil resources are at their disposal. They control Iraq and Lebanon as well. They can export anything that they want via them. They also have some understandings with Turkey and Russia that they can work to move America and the Kurds from the region.” According to Abbas, due to the understandings reached between Turkey and Iran, handing over an area to Turkey will also embolden Iran, enabling them to have a contiguous “Shia crescent” from Tehran to the Mediterranean Sea.

Already, Trump has allowed Turkey to take over Afrin and now, it looks like he will permit it to take over the rest of Syrian Kurdistan. Abbas claims that this will adversely affect the fight against ISIS: “Look at Afrin. The area used to be majority Kurdish. It is only 30% Kurdish now. The Turks got Eastern Euphrates, Kobane, Afrin, Kurdish Mountain, etc. as Islamist centers. Turkey will now be allowed to have pockets in northern Syria. That allows them to Arabize the region. The Kurds of Syria will have no viability for they will be forced to run away and will be destroyed. The area will be populated by ISIS groups and will be rebranded under a name appealing to Trump.”

Mendi Safadi, who heads the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights, claims that Trump’s decision to withdraw was premature and that it is not a tactic that ensures security in the region for America’s allies. The decision to withdraw added to Israel’s strategic difficulties, and the Kurds can expect to be ethnically cleansed from the area; the American withdrawal enables “the destruction of the Kurdish dream.” According to Safadi, “The fighting in Syria is far from ending and is even expected to be worse than in the past. The Turks and the Iranians have an open wound with the Kurds who ask to be independent and will take advantage of the opportunity.” He claims that this “makes the challenges ahead even more difficult than the Yom Kippur War.”

Finally, according to Turkish journalist Uzay Bulut, should Trump follow through with his decision to unconditionally withdraw from Syria entirely, he will be following in the footsteps of former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, whose pre-World War II foreign policy made his name synonymous with appeasement – exactly as Obama did.

Rachel Avraham is the president of the Dona Gracia Mendes Nasi Center for Human Rights and a political analyst at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research and Public Relations.

 

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