Trump's Middle East policy unlikely to solve problems: expert

US President Donald Trump's foreign policy toward the Middle East is not helpful in solving the problems in the region and would drag his country into a bigger crisis, according to an expert.

Ma Haiyun, assistant professor of history at Frostburg State University in Maryland, described Trump's measures like bombing Syria as "tactical", saying that it could not fundamentally change the situation in the Middle East.

"Launching airstrikes against Syria could be seen as a deployment of small-scale military forces, which could help prevent the United States and Israel from being attacked," said Ma, adding that the measure can be also used in Afghanistan to deal with terrorism, toward which the United States has not had a clear strategy.

Ironically, different from 2010 when the then president launched a massive military operation to overturn the Taliban regime, Trump only selectively attacked Taliban forces while negotiating with them, which indicates the Trump administration's weakness, said Ma.

The United States said to root out several terrorist organizations, but what kinds of organizations can be classified as terrorist groups is determined by the United States itself. At present, the United States has lowered its target in the Middle East to the degree, to which it only plans to fight some battles to kill some heavy weights of the terrorist organizations, according to the expert.

In Syria, Russia steals the spotlight from the United States, even though Trump ordered some limited military actions to deter other great powers, noted Ma.

The speculative nature of Trump as a businessman can be reflected in his policies toward Israel and Saudi Arabia. On the one hand, Trump called for the establishment of an alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia; on the other hand, the US president recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel when he thought it was time to seek benefits for the ally. And when Trump learned that Saudi Arabia needed weapons to cope with Iran, he had no hesitation to sign arms sales agreements with Saudi Arabia.

Ma said that Trump preferred to use money to deal with international relations, which was criticized by the United Nations, which condemned the United States for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"Dealing with the political problems in a business way would set traps for the United States. Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will lead to the confrontation between Israel and Muslim countries and the instability in the Middle East," said Ma.

In South Asia, Trump currently adopts pro-India policy and alienates Pakistan. Ma said that the policy discombobulated the situation in the region and backed away from Barack Obama's policy, which joined hands with Pakistan to deal with the Afghan issue.

To some extent, Trump sees India as a risk sharer especially when the Congress keeps an eye on military spending, Ma analyzed, saying the so-called pro-India policy was a wrong policy, which would not be helpful in solving the problems in Afghanistan, let alone punishing Pakistan.

Ma thought that Pakistan outperforms India in helping solve the Afghan crisis because the US army's supply line is in Pakistan. What's more, Pakistan also has the trump of China.

However, Ma believed that there was still a sliver lining for the improvement of the relationship between Pakistan and the United States.

The expert predicted that if Trump continues to adopt the pro-India policy, Pakistan might change the stance on the Israeli issue and strengthen cooperation with China and the surrounding countries. In addition, the pro-India policy would force Kabul to seek an alliance with the northern forces, which would cause big changes after the 2019 presidential election.


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