IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 26th Oct 2020
“The best revenge is massive success.” – Frank Sinatra
EDITORIAL HUNT #208 :“United States and West Asia Policy | UPSC”
United States and West Asia Policy | UPSC
In West Asia, it’s a bleak future amid America fading
President Trump’s policy has not factored in the geopolitical consequences of the U.S.’s declining influence in the area
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : IR
It was evident during the Barack Obama years that the U.S. had overstretched itself in West Asia and North Africa. Examine the USA’s hegemony in West Asia for past two decades -(GS 2)
- West Asia and the turbulence
- Peace to West Asia
- Obama Administration vs Trump Administration
- Way Forward
- NEW DAWN IN THE MIDDLE EAST : When the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed normalisation agreements with Israel in September, under the mediation of the United States, USA hailed it as a “new dawn in the Middle East”.
- RARE DIPLOMATIC VICTORY : The so-called ‘Abraham Accords’, which saw the first normalisation between Israel and Arab countries in 26 years, was a rare diplomatic victory for USA.
- DOHA AGREEMENT : The U.S.-Taliban deal is largely seen as American capitulation to the Afghan insurgents.
- SUBVERTING NORTH KOREA : The outreach to North Korea failed to produce any result.
- IRAN SANCTIONS : The maximum pressure campaign on Iran seems to have backfired.
- TRADE WAR : The trade war with China failed to produce any structural shift in the way China does business while tensions between the two countries rocketed.
PEACE TO WEST ASIA
- LOCK OUT : The U.S. had been stuck in an unwinnable war in Iraq.
- RUSSIAN CHECKMATE : In Syria, it was checkmated by the Russians.
- MISSED DEAL : The promise to fetch “the deal of the century” between the Israelis and the Palestinians was a non-starter.
- A CASE OF LIBYA : Its intervention in Libya turned out to be disastrous.
- NO WAY BACK TO HOME : But the U.S. has both allies and rivals in the region. It cannot just pack up and exit.
THE OBAMA AND TRUMP YEARS
- A REALISTIC APPROACH : Obama administration in the second term, adopted a realistic approach to address this problem.
- SENSITIVITY AND LEADERSHIP : He made peace with Iran, accepted the Russian lead role in Syria, left Libya burning, ignored Saudi and Israeli sulking over Iran.
- BALANCING THE ACT : But, to balance these, he overlooked Israel’s deepening occupation of Palestine and cooperated with the Saudi attack on Yemen.
- TRUMPS ADMINISTRATION : He demolished the Iran deal, brought Israel back to the centre of America’s policy towards the region and prompted the Arab and Jewish allies of the U.S. to join hands.
- REMAKE THE REGIONAL DYNAMICS : The plan, as it emerges, was to remake the regional dynamics in favour of America’s allies and push rivals to a corner.
- A GET TOGETHER : Mr. Trump succeeded in bringing the Gulf Arab countries and Israel together.
- HISTORY REPEATS : Trumps administration failed to escape the historical reality which Mr. Obama faced — America’s dwindling influence in shaping the present and future of West Asia.
THE CASE OF IRAN
- REIMPOSING SANCTIONS : Trump’s administration thought the Iranians would flinch once again so that he could extract more concessions from them and cut their regional wings.
- IRAN’s INTENTION : But the perils of that policy were the predictability of the policymaker’s objectives, and the Iranians were determined to defy him at any cost.
- IRAN’s FORMULA : Iran responded with multiple cuts on the U.S. and allied interests in the region — from targeting Saudi oil facilities and cargo ships in the Strait of Hormuz to launching rocket attacks at American troops in Iraq.
- KILLING TOP MAJOR GENERAL : He had Qassem Soleimani, one of the top Iranian Generals, killed and declared that the U.S. had re-established deterrence vis-à-vis Iran.
- SHIA REBELS IN IRAQ : The U.S., faced with continuing rocket attacks by Iran-backed Shia rebels in Iraq is contemplating shutting down the American Embassy in Baghdad and finally closure of embassy.
OPEN EMBRACE OF ISRAEL
- MISPLACED ADVENTURISM : While in the case of Iran, misplaced adventurism sabotaged even the available policy options, the Trump administration’s open embrace of Israel.
- SHARPENING THE AXES : The decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem, recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights sharpened the geopolitical contradictions.
- AMERICAN PILLARS : The normalisation agreements between Sunni Arab countries and Israel could strengthen the pro-American pillar in the region.
- POLITICAL VACCUM : It would rather leave a vacuum in regional politics which non-Arab Muslim countries would seek to fill.
- CREATING A ROOM : In other words, Trump’s Administration brought together Gulf Arabs and the Jews, who had had backroom contacts for years, on a public platform.
WITHDRAWAL OF EMPIRES
- RISE IN CONFLICTS : Historically, the withdrawal of empires had seen new conflicts arising in their peripheries.
- WITHDRAWAL OF ITALY : In 1911, Italy invaded the Turkish province of Libya, triggering a dangerous competition with the Ottomans in their decline years.
- WITHDRAWAL OF BRITISHERS : The collapse of the British empire left ethnic, religious, geopolitical wounds open across the former colonies.
- ARMENIA-AZERBAIJAN CONFLICT : Some of the conflicts , ongoing fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, have their roots in the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
It is worth watching if the U.S. is prepared to face the geopolitical consequences of the decline of its influence in West Asia.
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | United States and West Asia Policy | UPSC