The Real Substance of the Trump Visit to the Middle East – Future U.S. Action
By Sarah Ann Haves
During U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Europe, beyond the pomp and ceremony, there was an effort by his administration to establish an anti-terrorism coalition. A major strategy of that coalition, which includes Sunni Arab states seeking friendlier relations with Israel, will focus on stopping the aggressions of both ISIS and Iran.
It is, first and foremost, the Iranian aggression that Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states think is destabilizing the Middle East today.
During Trump’s visit, he spoke of progress that had been made in his visit to Saudi Arabia, because of the Iranian threat, which has already encouraged Israel and the Gulf States to form a closer military relationship. Iran has been the catalyst for the development of this new regional axis.
Israel has been concerned by the Trump Administration’s $380 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, signed while he was in Riyadh. Though the Saudi’s are developing closer ties with Israel, now, no leader can predict how long that will last. Israel wants to make sure that America remains committed to Israel having a Qualitative Military Edge (QME) over all states in the region. Trump advisors in Washington have assured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in Jerusalem that the U.S. is committed to Israel’s military supremacy in the Middle East. Recently, the U.S. added $75 million to its recent $38 billion aid package to Israel, which will cover more missile defense for the Jewish State.
|The Arab world
has changed since
…the “Arab Spring.”
The U.S. arms deal with Saudi Arabia is meant to provide the Saudis with a military shield that will also help Jordan and the Gulf countries counter Iranian threats. It is supposed to defend Sunni nations from Tehran’s acts of terror through its Shiite proxy militias; to defend Sunni states from Iran’s ballistic missile aggression; and to provide a military umbrella, with Israel’s help, against any attempt by Iran to use future nuclear capability on its Gulf neighbors.
The Arab world has changed in recent years, since the “Arab Spring”, and since America’s retreat from the Middle East under the direction of former U.S. President Barack Obama, which led to instability in the region.
Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and to an extent Lebanon, are not existing in the normal structure of civilian life and government. Saudi Arabia and the UAE, are currently fighting a proxy ground war against Iran in Yemen. Iranian supported militias are firing artillery across the Yemen border into Saudi towns. Saudi officers have been killed in fighting Shiite forces in Yemen.
Trump’s tougher talk on Iran during his visit to the region, helped secure renewed trust in America by the Saudi regime. Saudi leaders had already seen that the U.S., under Trump, was taking more action against regional players than Trump’s predecessor. This has now resulted in confidence-building between America and the Gulf countries.
This recent arms deal will give Saudi Arabia the military capability and power to help it become one of the most modern and strongest militaries in the region besides Israel. Among its capabilities will be an anti-ballistic missile defense system that should be able to counter Iran’s ballistic missile activity in the region.
Meanwhile, Iran has claimed that it has built its third underground missile factory, which gives Israel and its Sunni Gulf neighbors even more reason to be concerned about Tehran’s ballistic missile program. In the past, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards tested ballistic missiles that were designed to eventually target Israel.
To make matters worse, Iraqi militia forces that are close to the Iranian regime, are advancing on the Syrian-Iraqi border. This border, in northwestern Iraq, is strategic to regional Shiites who are aligned with Iran. As ISIS loses power in that area, it opens up a new corridor advantageous to Iran’s regional goals. The Kurds are in the north and the Shiites could become the only powerful force in the south on that part of the northern Iraq border. The Kurds are afraid that the regional Shiites will fight Peshmerga forces when ISIS is defeated in the area.
Furthermore, this strategic corridor, which could extend from Bagdad to Syria, would give Iran’s Revolutionary Guards increased control in the region, advancing the Iranian “Shiite Crescent”. This threatens the region with Iranian advancement towards the Mediterranean Sea. Iran has already threatened to take control over the Straits of Hormuz.
In addition, this increasing Shiite alliance fuels the plans of Syrian President Bashir Assad to establish an east-west “Shiite Axis”, extending from Lebanon all the way to Iran.
This has become an increasing military concern for Israel, which is worried about a future alliance between regional Shiites and Hezbollah. Hezbollah continues to be the greatest threat to Israel on its northern border. The experienced militia terrorist force has increased military capabilities in both Lebanon and Syria. Israel has, on more than one occasion, knocked out Iranian and Syrian arms transfers to Hezbollah. Connecting Shiites in Iraq to those in Syria and Lebanon could become a nightmare for the Jewish State.
Recent reports also indicate that Iran and Hamas may be reconciling their differences. Iranian aggression all over the region – in Yemen, in Syria, in Iraq, in Lebanon, and possibly in Gaza, poses not only a major threat to Israel and the Gulf states, but also to America’s strategic interests in the region.
|Trump seeks to
create a Sunni regional
alliance against Iran.
As Trump seeks to create a Sunni regional alliance against Iran, it is a welcome relief for Israel as it continues to form deeper relationships with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries. This provides a safety net for Israel, which has already made peace with Jordan and Egypt.
The Trump Administration has taken military action to stop the Syrian government in its destructive chemical weapons actions against its own people; and, it has taken military action to thwart the advancement of ISIS in its atrocities against any people who are not aligned with its movement. Trump is also expected to increase sanctions against Iranian ballistic missile actions, with the help of Congress.
If Trump prioritizes his focus on this new anti-terrorism coalition, and it becomes successful enough in its military power to thwart Iran’s hegemonic goals, it will be one of Trump’s greatest foreign policy achievements. The hope is that it will stop Iran in its tracks before the “Shiite Crescent” is allowed to be fully formed, which in turn, will stop a major war from eventually occurring in the Middle East region.
Proclaim the Lord’s plans in Isaiah 19:23-24: In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the LORD of Hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”
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Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues in Israel and the nations.