America-Russia reconciliation will change the dynamics of American foreign policy especially regarding NATO and the Middle East. There are two possible outcomes of this Reconciliation. First is the US policy shift in the Middle East as well as in Ukraine, with Russian having the upper hand in both these theaters. The US might back out from the policy of regime change in Syria. The second result is likely out of the box but not impossible, the collaboration between Russia and the US to form a joint strategy in the region to fight ISIS.Donald Trump who strongly opposed Obama’s foreign policy has opted a new strategy for the Middle East.
The NATO future seems bleak in the face of rising Russia and lack of US interest in the Eastern Europe developments.
Obama’s administration was continuously accused of exacerbating the chaos in the Middle East. The trump administration aims for reconciliation with Russia, is a major foreign policy decision by Trump administration. For American’s, the biggest threat is rising military power of Russia teaming up with economically emerging China on a Global level. Trump favors non-intervention, with no intention to deploy US troops in the Europe closer to the Russian border. The NATO future seems bleak in the face of rising Russia and lack of US interest in the Eastern Europe developments.
The brutal proxy war in the Middle East
Kurds not only enjoy financial assistance but are also assisted by the US coalition Air Forces on different fronts.
The US has a history of making an 180-degree shift in its foreign policy. First Gaddafi and Saddam were strategic allies but soon turned out to be an existential threat to the US. The war in the Middle East is more like a sectarian proxy war between major powers including Russia, US, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Some are using the umbrella of sect/religion while others are using the umbrella of humanitarian assistance, but the fact is that it’s a war for strategic, economic and political goals.
Kurdish ambitions in the changing Middle East
The joint strategy to fight ISIS mentioned above includes Kurd’s operating in four countries Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Kurdish Peshmerga is backed by both Russia and America from the start of the crisis in the region. Kurds not only enjoy financial assistance but are also assisted by the US coalition Air Forces on different fronts. Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White clearly said in a statement that the US will supply arms to the Kurdish elements of American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. The Kurds are working on territorial expansion both in Iraq and Syria.
Possible threats to Turkish national security
The primary goal of operation Euphrates shield was to create a buffer zone at Syrian border to stop the infiltration of Kurds and ISIS members from Syria into Turkey.
Both Russia and America can recognize the Kurdish state in the region which will have severe repercussions for Iran and Turkey. Turkey views Kurdish militants operating in Syria and Iraq as a terrorist because of their links with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party and PKK militant group which want to carve out its own independent Kurdish state within Turkey. Turkey’s initial goal was to overthrow the Syrian regime which is likely impossible in these circumstances.
Turkey has just ended operation ‘Euphrates Shield’ against ISIS, YPG, and PKK in Syrian cities located on Turkish Border. The primary goal of operation Euphrates shield was to create a buffer zone at Syrian border to stop the infiltration of Kurds and ISIS members from Syria into Turkey. As far as Iraq is concerned, Turkey wants to establish its influence in the oil-rich northern Iraq. Turkey being a NATO ally and Strategic partner of US in the region has taken many policy decisions which are at odds with the US interests.
Challenges for Iran
Israel, being a strategic partner of US-Israel will back the Russians and Americans if they drive Hezbollah out of Syria and even if it is replaced by moderate rebels or Kurd’s.
Similarly, Iran being a major player in a war in the Middle East has a reservation on Russia backing the Kurds. According to Telegraph, Russia is about to build a base and send military personnel to northern Syria to train Kurdish YPG militants. This comes in after an agreement between Russia and YPG in Syria to develop cooperation to fight ISIS. Kurd’s are operating in Iran since late 90’s and are responsible for many attacks in Iran. Just like Turkey and Iraq Kurds want to establish an independent Kurdish state in Iran as well. Iran is concerned about increasing Kurdish influence in the region. For Iran, the Iraqi Kurdistan can be used as a launching pad for the insurgency in Iran.
Hezbollah being a strategic asset of Iran has a legacy of war with Israel. Israel, being a strategic partner of US-Israel will back the Russians and Americans if they drive Hezbollah out of Syria and even if it is replaced by moderate rebels or Kurd’s. These circumstances will minimize the influence of Iran in the region and could have been a major factor influencing Iran Nuclear deal with P5 powers and Germany.
Changing dynamics of the Middle East and its repercussions on Saudi Arabia
The sanction on Qatar shows the rising frustration in the house of Saud and its concerns about the Akhwan ul Muslimeen.
The sanction on Qatar shows the rising frustration in the house of Saud and its concerns about the Akhwan ul Muslimeen. The Saudi Arabia and other Arab monarchies might back the Kurdish state in the heart of Middle East as Akhwan ul Muslimeen is also a major political force in Syria as well. Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting an undeclared war with each other.Saudi Arabia being a major Strategic ally of US is fully aware of changing dynamics of World politics. Saudi Arabia and China for the first time conducted joint military drills to combat terrorism. The news of Saudi budding up with China may be jarring to some, as it doesn’t conform to mainstream narrative of Saudi Arabia as an unwavering US outpost in the Middle-East. Saudi Arabia is backing most of the rebel groups operating against the Syrian regime and on other hand is facing security problems from Houthis backed by Iran. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also views Arab Spring as a threat to the monarchy as they are concerned about the revolution coming home. Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries like UAE and Egypt view Akhwan ul muslimeen as the biggest threat to the monarchy due to its revolutionary ideology of ‘’Political Islam’’ which influenced thousands across the Middle East.
Russia-America reconciliation might provide a favorable environment for another chapter of Reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran. But on the other hand, it can also intensify the cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The role of Islamic Military alliance in the upcoming geopolitical crisis will be crucial but depends on active participation of Pakistan and Turkey. One thing is clear, major policy shifts are about to come.
Talha Ahmad is a Freelance Journalist. He is an independent Geo-Political Analyst, commentator and keen observer of International relations. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.