TEHRAN (Basirat)- If this Trump’s approach prevails, the US will abandon its traditional policy of supporting terrorist groups in Syria and then cooperate with Russia in the battle against the militants. By Shoaib Bahman
If this Trump’s approach prevails, the US will abandon its traditional policy of supporting terrorist groups in Syria and then cooperate with Russia in the battle against the militants. By Dr. Shuaib BahmanThere are different discussions going on across the world about the future of the US under the presidency of Donald Trump. What makes these conversations more animated is Trump’s ongoing erratic behavior and stances on different topics during his election campaigns as well as days after his surprising victory.
One of the topics is what Trump’s foreign policy will look like towards Syria and the terrorist groups operating in the Arab country. During his election campaign, Trump adopted two relatively well-defined stances on Syria. Firstly, he stressed that President Assad’s government is fighting terrorists and the US should support it, and secondly, he said he was eager to restore ties with Russia.
Such stances show that Trump is in favor of a coalition with Russia over the Syrian conflict in the fight against terrorists. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on November 2016, he said, "My attitude was you’re fighting Syria, Syria is fighting ISIS, and you have to get rid of ISIS. Russia is now totally aligned with Syria, and now you have Iran, which is becoming powerful, because of us, is aligned with Syria. … Now we’re backing rebels against Syria, and we have no idea who these people are.
This demonstrates that Trump believes getting rid of extremist groups, Daesh in particular, has priority over regime change in Syria.
If this Trump’s approach prevails, the US will abandon its traditional policy of supporting terrorist groups in Syria and then cooperate with Russia in the battle against the militants. Not only will this tighten noose on terrorist groups, but also will cause great distress and discontent among backers of the Takfiri groups, particularly Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In fact, Washington’s decision to cooperate with Russia and later Assad over fighting terrorism will escalate tension with Ankara, which holds different views on Assad’s government, terrorist groups and Kurds.
Also, such a policy would rapidly deteriorate US-Saudi Arabia relations. In an interview with the New York Times back in March, Trump had restated that if Saudi soldiers do not join the battle against Daesh in Syria or refuses to pay the US for its military expenses, the US may stop buying oil from the Saudis.
This shows that any potential US-Russia-Syria cooperation against terrorism will have direct impact on relations between US and some of its traditional allies in the future.
However, there are still doubts about the change of US foreign policy on Syria for the following reasons:
1) Taking a look at previous US presidential campaign slogans, one can realize that there have always been contradictions in US presidents’ words and actions before and after elections.
2) Most likely, the US ruling structure will not allow Trump to change Washington’s policy towards the Syrian government and the terrorist groups.
3) US’ future foreign policy and national security teams will probably be willing to continue to use terrorism as a tool to serve US national interests in the region.
4) Next US administration may be fond of distinguishing between good and bad terrorists, and then avoid waging a serious fight against them.
5) The possibility that US may change its policy, a one that is based on cooperation with Ankara and Riyadh as the White House’s policy enforcers in the region, is slim.
Therefore, placing too much reliance on Trump’s campaign promises and words can lead to inaccurate predictions about the future of US foreign policy. Nevertheless, we should wait and see what might the future hold and how much Trump’s campaign rhetoric will be fulfilled in practice.