Nervousness: Trumpís Approaching Visit to the Middle East
By Dr. Mordechai
Israel National News
May 14, 2017
If there are no last minute changes, President Trump will
be embarking on a trip to the Middle East that includes Israel, the PA and
Saudi Arabia. The trip has a very tight schedule because those planning it at
each stop are trying to cram as many events, places and people as they
possibly can into the time allotted for the President's visit.
In the nature of things, there will be long lines of
people who want to shake hands with the important visitor, the most powerful man
in the world. Each one of them is confident that Trump will remember the one
sentence he manages to slip in between the shoves of those who are next in line
and the elbows of the security detail protecting Trump from all angles.
Trump's speechwriters are putting in long hours to prepare suitable texts for
each stop and its audience, hoping the listeners will take his words to
One thing is certain, a week after Trump's visit, he won't
remember a word of the texts he read out loud. A week? That long? I must be an
Everyone knows that Trump himself knows very little about
the Middle East's problems and hasn't the sliightest idea where to find a
solution for them and how to go about doing so, especially when compared to the
presidents who preceded him, who spent a good deal of time learning the problems
involved and put much wasted effort into attempting to find solutions for them.
The 100 days of Trump's presidency presented the world with a leader imbued with
a feeling of power, who acts according to his own instincts and whose
reactions are not predictable. As I write these lines, Trump has fired the
head of the FBI and my heart tells me that this was not the result of a long,
carefully considered analysis of the situation.
Israel plans an itinerary including Yad Vashem, the
Western Wall, the President's House, Massada and a dinner with the Prime
Minister for the honored guest. The itinerary is filled with symbolism,
focused on Jerusalem, on ancient and recent Jewish history, and is intended to
strengthen Trump's consciousness of the connection between the Jewish nation and
its capital city and homeland - and the need for the world and the USA in
particular to protect this connection and strengthen it. Naturally, it is
impossible to include lengthy, deep discussions in a trip of this
brief duration, and anyway, it is doubtful Trump has spent a significant
amount of time discussing the problems of the Middle East with real seriousness.
Not one of his advisors has professional expertise or experience regarding the
Middle East, so the results are liable to be superficial at best.
The one thing all Trump's Middle Eastern hosts are afraid
of is a combination of three factors: One is Trump's businessman's way of
thinking that leads him to want to close a deal at any price, even at the
expense of things that are of utmost importance to his partners. The second
is his characteristic use of power when dealing with friends and enemies, and
the third is the impulsivity his actions reflect, a trait that raises doubts
about the effectivity of the solutions he might suggest. In this kind of
situation, especially taking into account his lack of knowledge and
experience of the Middle East, his advisors become increasingly important,
especially their relations with one another and the demarcation of each one's
areas of responsibility.
I think that at each of Trump's stops, his hosts are
preparing themselves for a guest who may present ideas with which they disagree,
but whose ideas they will listen to without making their opinions obvious so as
not to lose his and his advisors' good will. They are preparing
presentations that he will enjoy, speeches he will be pleased to hear,
anything to prevent his getting angry if his plans are not carried out the
way he wants them to be - and the probability of that is rather high.
The most extreme example of this will probably occur in
Saudi Arabia. Trump is supposed to be the guest of honor at a conference of
leaders of Islamic nations, called to discuss the extremism that has enveloped
Arab and Islamic society and suggest ways of coping with this phenomenon.
Trump's motivation for getting involved in the problem of Islamic radicalization
stems from his gut - and on the mark - feeling that the radical hostility
towards current regimes in Islamic countries may turn against the
USA, which is a friend and ally of these regimes. That happened in the early
years of this century - notably the 9/11 attack by Bin Laden and al Qaeda -
and that is how it has continued up to the present. The problem facing Trump and
the conference is that in the background there is the growing tension between
the Saudis, representing the Sunnis, and Iran, which represents the
Shiites, and the horrific wars being waged by these two antagonists in
Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.
The only way the Saudis and other Sunni countries can deal
with Iran without a direct and terrible war against that country is through the
Sunni Salafist groups, such as those operating in Syria and Iraq, who are
fighting Iran and its allies - Hezbollah, Assad and Russia. How can the American
president deal with an Iran which is constantly increasing its armaments and
power, without recourse to the "extremist" organizations
funded by Saudi Arabia?
This is where the possibility of "boots on the
ground" arises, meaning that American troops will be sent to the Jihadi
fields of the Middle East in order to advance America's security interests,
while at the present time there are already American soldiers in Syria, Iraq,
Afghanistan and for all we know, in other regions at war.
Trump needs the cooperation of the Islamic countries
for US operations against two Islamist powers, ISIS and Iran.
The problem is that this contains an internal paradox: Shiite Iran has the most
to gain from the elimination of ISIS, a Sunni force, and its destruction will
allow Iran to return the areas in Syria conquered by ISIS in 2014 to its
ally, Assad, In addition, the Saudis have been and still are the main supporters
of ISIS - behind the scenes, of course. This is why, in Riyadh, Trump will
listen gravely, by way of earphones, to the speeches of leaders who are all
united against "extremism and terror" while simultaneously, some of
them are funding (and not only funding) those very same organizations against
which they speak in that so very important conference taking place in
Egypt is not on Trump's itinerary for security reasons, but
Trump may meet with the Egyptian president, Al Sisi, while at the Riyadh
conference. Perhaps a meeting has already been planned.
It is clear that this tour is intended to advance the
establishment of a pro-American coalition in the Middle East, one that the
Americans believe will succeed in creating a force against the Russia-Iran axis
of which Turkey is a not insignificant member. The pro-American coalition
Trump is trying to create will include the Saudis, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, the
Palestinian Authority and the Kurdish organizations trying to gain liberty and
independence in the Turkish regions of Syria despite the fierce opposition of
Turkish president. Erdogan. To enable the formation of this coalition, the sides
must find solutions to some "incidental" problems that exist between
them, such as the establishment of a Palestinian State and peace with Israel.
This is what lies behind the sudden "smiles and peace talk attack" act
displayed by Mahmoud Abbas and the other act put on by Jordanian King Abdullah's
claiming that his country is ISIS' next target. In both these mendacious
presentations the facts are not of any importance, because Trump doesn't check
the truth of what he is told anyway, a telling example of that being Abbas'
totally false presentation of PA "education for peace."
It can be concluded that Trump's Middle East visit will be
judged by its results and not by the honeyed words he is going to hear during
the days he is in the region. It is here, in the small and infuriating things,
that evil lurks. We can only wish Trump, his advisors, the USA and the entire
world, the ability to reach a deep understanding of the Middle East's problems
and of the correct solutions that actually can be carried out, not just written
glowingly on paper, in this war-torn area.