In the Middle East, the continued American disengagement

In terms of Middle Eastern diplomacy, US President Donald Trump began his mandate with accents reminiscent of George W. Bush. In Riyadh, in May 2017, he set himself up as a defender of “Good against evil”, a camp embodied according to him by the Islamic State organization and Iran. Imprinted by an almost biblical Manichaeism, the harangue awakens the spirits of the “axis of Evil”, denounced in its time by the former governor of Texas. A formula which served as a pretext for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the paroxysm of American engagement in the Middle East.

Donald Trump with Egyptian President Al-Sisi and King Salman of Saudi Arabia at the opening of a

But, very quickly, Donald Trump’s policy in the region took the opposite direction. Iran excepted, it began to resemble that of his immediate predecessor, the one from whom he did so much to distinguish himself, Barack Obama. Without theorizing it, in his instinctive and impulsive way, the man in the White House amplified the strategy of lighter footprint (lighter footprint) and lead from behind (lead from behind), driven by the former head of state. Evidenced by one of his latest initiatives, the threat of closing the concrete fortress which serves as the US embassy in Baghdad. A measure that would complete the American withdrawal from Iraq, launched ten years earlier, under the Democratic presidency.

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“In the Middle East, Trump has confirmed and consolidated the turn taken by Obama, that of disengagement, estimates Joseph Bahout, director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut. The United States remains the sheriff of the region, but by far. Micromanagement is outsourced to local partners, such as Israel and the United Arab Emirates. “ Two states with strong diplomatic practices, whose rapprochement, sealed in August, is one of the most important legacies of the Trump era in the Middle East.

“A multipolar phase”

“The unipolar phase, which followed the Yom Kippur War, in 1973, during which the United States pulled all the strings, is over, says Hussein Ibish, analyst at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. We are entering a multipolar phase, with new players such as Turkey, Russia and the Israel-Emirates duo. The United States hopes to rely on this new alliance to continue its disengagement from the Middle East. “

Syria is the emblematic case of how Donald Trump approached the region. By suspending on the one hand the last programs of support for the anti-Assad rebels and by clinging on the other to an unrealistic sanctions policy, the US president has de facto abandoned useful Syria – the backbone of the country, d Aleppo to Deraa – to Russia, to whom Barack Obama, by his reluctance to intervene in this matter, had paved the way.

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