Pompeo in the Middle East: Some aspects of Washington`s strategic plans for the region

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Baku, 14 January 2019 –

Experts are analyzing geopolitical aspects of U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo`s visit to the Middle East countries. The issue gained topicality after Donald Trump`s decision to withdraw the U.S. troops from Syria. The assessments show that Washingtonhas in fact taken a serious political attitude. Its primary goal is to bring together several countries in the Middle East in a military bloc to exploit them in its own interests. It`s a very dangerous move and may cause new standoffs across the region. At the same time, there is a growing possibility that the U.S. will interfere with the situation in Middle East powers because one side of the issue relates to their security. In this context, geopolitical implications of Pompeo`s regional visit need to be analyzed.

Change in attitude or certain correction: the U.S.` main goal

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo`s Middle East tour was much anticipated in the wake of John Bolton`s unsuccessful trips to Israel and Turkey. Pompeo was planning to travel to nine regional countries. This showed the seriousness of Washington`s goal. And the U.S. Secretary of State`s address at Cairo University confirmed that experts` predictions were right. In his address, Pompeo spelled out specific points of Washington`s Middle East policy.

It`s not about who is right or wrong, the point is that the U.S. already realized that its policy has been ineffective so far. It is a critical point because for many years the Middle East powers have been trying to bring this to Washington`s notice. But the White House never listened and put its strategic interests above everything. And now Pompeo publicly described Barack Obama`s policy as wrong. May be he`s right. But are there any guarantees that Donald Trump`s policy is right? There are specific reasons behind this question. Pompeo`s pathetic speech at the American university in Cairo therefore is nothing but a political rhetoric.

His statements are thought-provoking in terms of development of the geopolitical processes in the Middle East. Washington continues to consider Iran as its main enemy in the region. This means that the U.S. in facttook sides with Israel. This gives a clear understanding of the main principles of the U.S.` Middle East policy. Experts point out the Trump Administration`s Christian-Evangelical approach.

In his speech in Cairo, Pompeo said the trip "is especially meaningful for me as an evangelical Christian”. And evangelicals are known for loving Israel. U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, in an interview with the New York Times, said that evangelical Christians "support Israel with much greater fervor and devotion than many in the Jewish community.” So Pompeo hinted that Israel is the cornerstone of the United States` Middle East policy.

The core principle of Washington`s Middle East policy can be described as follows: to build the most favourable geo-political situation for Israel in the region. In this context, Iran is considered as the enemy number one. Holding back Turkey, which has emerged as the Middle East leader, is also part of Washington`s plans. It`s not a coincidence that special services of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Israel discussed ways of constraining Iran and Turkey. Arab states do not seem to be shy of taking sides with Israel, which occupied Arab lands. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu`s recent visit to Oman was another confirmation of this. Experts believe that it is one of the outcomes of the U.S. diplomacy in the region.

The Secretary of State`s visit to the region demonstrated Washington`s willingness to make corrections to its tactics and strategy toward the Middle East. Pompeo`s remarks in Cairo are worth paying attention to. One of the conclusions drawn from the speech is that the U.S. will remain committed to building a geopolitical order in each Middle East country, including Syria, that will meet the interests of its closest ally in the region. This means that in reality Washington will not withdraw its troops from the region, it will just relocate part of its military contingent. The primary goal of this move may be to be capable of immediately intervening in any critical situation.For example, the U.S.` military contingent should be able to intervene in Iraq, Syria and Iran when needed. It may use force to support radical groups in Syria for example.

New game rules: Arabs vs Muslims?

The U.S. officials have frequently stated that Washington will support Kurdish groups in the north of Syria. But Turkey`s resolute position necessitated making correction to the U.S. plans. In his recent statement, John Bolton said talks will continue with Turkey. Ankara expressed commitment to eliminating terrorist groups in Syria. This means that the U.S. may be locked in a new standoff with regional powers in the Middle East. The only way-out from the situation will emerge after America takes a fair position because Turkey has no more concessions to make.

Generalization of these factors allows defining the main feature of the U.S. Middle East policy.Washington still continues to cause tension in the region by bouncing local states in the conflict. It even plans to establish a military bloc to this end. Officially called The Middle East Security Alliance (MESA), this bloc is dubbed "Middle East (Arab) NATO” by Washington. In Cairo, Pompeo said: "The Trump administration is also working to establish the Middle East Strategic Alliance to confront the region’s most serious threat and bolster energy and economic cooperation. This effort is bringing together members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, as well as Egypt and Jordan. Today, we ask each of those countries to take the next step and help us solidify MESA…These steps toward rapprochement are necessary for greater security in the face of our shared threats, and they also hint at a much brighter future for the region.”

It is clear who MESA will target. The U.S. will exploit Arab states to thwart any plans contrary to its own interests or those of Israel in the Middle East. This effort aims to sell arms to Muslims in order to maintain control over them.

MESA is designed to address any problem emerging in any part of the Middle East. And the possibility of a war in the region is not ruled out. If MESA is established and several Arab states are locked in an armed conflict with other countries, then other superpowers may wage a war against the organization. This may throw the entire region into chaos.

So Mike Pompeo`s visit to nine Arab countries may have dangerous geopolitical implications. Washington is planning to arm its allies in the wake of partial pull-out from the region, which will pose new threats to Middle East countries rather than contributing to their security. It is a very dangerous and tricky move. If Arab states fall into this trap, they will be forced to indirectly execute the will of external powers.

The other aspect of the issue relates to the activity of superpowers. There are no doubts that Tehran is considering retaliation. Syria is supposed to become central theatre of war. Washington insists that Iran withdraw from the region. But Iran is one of the three countries (other two are Russia and Turkey) engaged in ensuring security in Syria. This increases the possibility of U.S.-Iran clash in any part of Syria. Interestingly, Washington can relocate its troops in the areas controlled by ISIL and Shia militia. In Syria, the U.S. may pull out its military from Kurds-controlled areas to the areas controlled by Iran.

This assumption is supported by the fact that the Iranian issue was high on the agenda during Bolton`s and Pompeo`s visits to the region. Anyway the U.S. seems to have embarked on a different course in the Middle East.

Pompeo`s visit to the Arab countries of the Middle East is therefore an indicative of Washington`s new political attitude rather than withdrawal from Syria. The U.S., which claims to be advocating reconciliation, peace and cooperation, wants to kill two birds with one stone. Firstly, it wants to restore its negative image among Muslims. Secondly, it wants to kill the chances of other rival superpowers in the region.

However, experts put another question here: Isn`t the U.S. drawing the Middle East into new troubles? As an ideological concept evangelicalism is aggressive and may encourage a new Armageddon!

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