The world is changing. And it is changing fast.
Most of these changes are led by the 45th President of the United States (POTUS) Donald Trump. The POTUS has demonstrated his will to have his way. And that is what power is all about.
There is no rival in sight. The United States of America is potent. And Trump is showing the world leaders that they are so impotent, he is not even bothered about them. China is just one example Trump has chosen to illustrate this fact by underlining his right to remain arbitrary. Halving military presence in Afghanistan and withdrawing forces from the Syrian theatre of war is the other.
This assertion is really so regal that he has not even spared the United Kingdom where Prime Minister May is helplessly trying to stay afloat while Trump continues to tighten the screws torturing the European Union (EU) so ruthlessly, the UK is being forced to stomach a no deal Brexit.
And if a foolish retired general cannot understand the strategic layout of Trump’s daring chess board, then it is better for the mightiest military in the entire world that he resigns from being the Secretary of Defence in the Trump administration. As the commander in chief, POTUS Trump has told the generals to follow his lead instead of forgetting their place in trying to dictate how American defence should be shaped for the next century.
The Chinese are wise and have taken the surer route of patience for the long haul with President Xi Jinping assuring the world they have no hegemonic ambitions. Europeans are, of course furious for they imagine themselves to be the hegemons rivalling Trump’s America. In my opinion, if the Arab Spring had an American push, the rise of the right cannot be all by itself. Cambridge Analytica might be barred but the POTUS commands the world’s largest and most potent clandestine machine.
It is foolish of French President Emmanuel Macron to see Trump leaving them in the lurch only now when he signed the order for the American troops to leave Syria and not earlier with Brexit in the United Kingdom. The French President on Sunday said he “deeply regretted” Trump’s decision, and that “an ally must be reliable”. It is reassuring to note that no other European leader has been as naïve in blurting out bitter realpolitik like a little boy in school mesmerized by the more powerful around him!
This reminds one of a local proverb from south Asia wherein [translated from Urdu/Hindi] the mother-in-law goes, “Daughter, daughter listen to me. Daughter in law, daughter in law pay attention.” I imagine the proverbial daughter is the United Kingdom in this complex engagement in realpolitik we know as our world. Not only has Trump shown the whole of Europe what importance he assigns to them in the larger scheme of things, but he has also not shied away from telling his English allies to stay put behind him.
It is also interesting to note how the so called experts are at sea in Israel, a sham country run by delusional leaders imagining Donald Trump has been deciding in support of their country since taking office. However, the mercurial POTUS has now shown with the withdrawal of US troops from Syria that he only follows his own policy of America First. After Trump’s surprise announcement of the pull out last week, Israel is reportedly concerned over where does the POTUS stand on Iran? Their fear is based on good understanding and thus obvious. If Iran is allowed a freer hand to operate in the neighbouring country, then it will the beginning of the end for Israel. Yet no one dare come out and oppose POTUS Trump, so Israel’s response to the announcement was careful to point out that it respects the US decision, coupled with pledges to continue to defend its interests in Syria.
No doubt, Iran will seek to take advantage of the US absence from Syria. Hence beneath those public pronouncements are worries over their future. With Turkey ushered inside the Syrian war theatre, the stage is now set for a grand new settlement with Iran who has little choice but to accept an alliance with Turkey that not only needs to effectively neutralize the Kurdish YPG separatists but also needs an alliance with Iran for the future when major economic and business activities move away from the middle East.
Turkey also has never hidden its animosity to MBS, the de facto ruler in Saudi Arabia facing a full blown family revolt for it was from the Turkish that the Saudis wrestled away the Hijaz including the two holy cities of Mecca and Madina. In a scenario where the Americans no longer need the Saudi’s, there is no place for Israel to exist for no one invests in security no longer needed.
Turkey and Russia are natural allies and Putin will be averse to responding to Israel’s calls to limit Iranian intrusion in Syria. Meanwhile, the careless manner in which Trump took this decision and announced it leading to the US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis’s resignation in response—must also give Israeli leaders pause, media has reported some Western analysts say.
“Since it’s our major ally, we want the United States to be strong … and we want an ally which is being perceived in the region as strong and effective,” said Eyal Zisser, vice rector of Tel Aviv University and an expert on Syria. “And I think that what worries some Israelis is what message does this decision—the way it was taken, what stood behind it—send to the region?”
Not only has the order to withdraw American troops from Syria has been signed on Sunday, President Donald Trump also revealed that he and his Turkish counterpart have agreed to prevent a power vacuum in the wake of the controversial move. The announcement shocked Western leaders as well as the rest of the world. Turkey has been one of the rare allies that have lauded Trump’s momentous decision on Syria.
Turkey now has freer rein to target the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) deemed terrorists by Ankara. A US withdrawal, said Mutlu Civiroglu, a Kurdish affairs analyst, will open the way “for Turkey to start its operations against the Kurds, and a bloody war will begin”.
Trump spoke with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the telephone on Sunday. “[He] agreed to ensure coordination between our countries’ military, diplomatic and other officials to avoid a power vacuum which could result following any abuse of the withdrawal and transition phase in Syria”, the Turkish presidency said in a statement.
Plans for the troop withdrawal will now be overseen by Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who Trump on Sunday said would replace Mattis starting January 1. He also tweeted the same day Erdogan had assured him any remaining IS fighters in Syria will be eliminated. “President @RT_Erdogan of Turkey has very strongly informed me that he will eradicate whatever is left of ISIS in Syria,” Trump said in a tweet around midnight on Sunday. Trump has held Erdogan “is a man who can do it”. The US president concluded: “Our troops are coming home!”
Turkish military reinforcements are being sent deep into Syria. The message is that Turkey is ready to use force if it is stopped. Deployment of Turkish troops followed news reports the Syrian government forces were planning to move in. Once the US begins withdrawing its troops, there will be a vacuum in Syria. Damascus has made its position known alleging Turkey has territorial ambitions.
Retired U.S. Army general and former NATO commander Wesley Clark on Monday proved himself incompetent by questioning whether Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blackmailed President Trump into his decision to remove U.S. troops from Syria. “There doesn’t seem to be any strategic rationale for the decision. And if there’s no strategic rationale for the decision then you have to ask, why was the decision made?” he said on CNN’s “New Day.” Was there a payoff is or something? Why would a guy make a decision like this? Because all the recommendations were against it,” he added.
To be continued…
Khalid Hussain is Resident Editor of TLTP – You may contact Khalid Hussain at Resident.Editor@tltpnews.com.pk
The Law Today Pakistan, commonly known as TLTP, is the largest news wire service, headquartered in Islamabad. The service is providing fast, comprehensive and verified news on superior courts adjudications, regulatory framework of fiscal, monitory and external sectors, economic regulatory bodies amid apex institutions regulating the financial system. TLTP is empowering readers of more than 12 national English dailies in the country.