While the Establishment press huffs and puffs about supposed lack of trust in the Trump Administration, the new president’s foreign policy is shaping up as a coherent and effective strategy.
The diplomatic isolation of Qatar is a masterstroke. Qatar’s royal family is a nest of extremist sympathizers sitting atop an enormous gas bubble. Egypt has a score to settle with Qatar for its longstanding support of Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is complicit in Muslim Brotherhood terrorism against the Egyptian government. Saudi Arabia has a score to settle because of Qatar’s dalliance with Iran.
Under the Obama Administration, Qatar was off limits as the host to the headquarters of CENTCOM, the American command in the Middle East. It is inconceivable that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and their allies would pull the plug on Qatar without tacit American approval.
The Saudi-Egyptian action was greeted with consternation in Turkey, which also supports the Muslim Brotherhood and has maintained an on-again, off-again relationship with Hamas. Qatar has been a key source of financing for Turkey and a major source of new foreign direct investment. President Trump’s stern warning to Muslim leaders last month that they had to extirpate extremism evidently has teeth. Beating up Qatar sends a message to the Turks that they have to behave themselves.
Meanwhile the Trump Administration (according to veteran reporter Laura Rozen at AI-Monitor) is conducting quiet negotiations with Russia to settle the Syrian mess by dividing the country into zones of separation. Negotiating with Russia is a tricky business, and requires showing an iron fist under the velvet glove. Iran is Russia’s ally-of-convenience in Syria, and the Trump Administration’s campaign to isolate Iran is a warning to Russia. By kicking Russia’s dog, Washington is sending a message that it is willing to walk away from the deal–a precondition for any successful deal, per Trump’s rule number one in “The Art of the Deal.”
It is ironic that the foreign policy establishment, which presided over the disintegration of two Arab states (Syria and Libya) and brought the region to the verge of a new Thirty Years’ War, questions the basic competence of the Trump White House. The conduct of American policy was abysmal under the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations; Trump, by contrast, has made startlingly rapid progress in cleaning up the mess.