Gumer Isaev: ''The Obama era ended and the Trump era has begun in the Middle East’’
Orientalist tells about the faded Trump mania in Russia, the ‘’inaction’’ of S-400 in Syria and a new American policy in the Middle East
The U.S. missile attack on the base of Syrian troops in Homs province has caused some confusion in the Russian political circles. It is unclear why the Russian air defence system has allowed the U.S. to attack the airfield of the Assad's troops. Why has Washington resolved to take such step? How will Moscow act in the new situation? A political scientist, columnist of Realnoe Vremya Gumer Isayev has investigated the situation in his new newspaper column.
The strategy of Donald Trump in the Middle East: the U.S. are going to Syria
Some time ago, we marked the tragic anniversary of the beginning of unrest in Syria, which escalated into a bloody civil war. Neither the participants of anti-government protests nor the police or the army could imagine that six years later an internecine conflict in Syria would turn into a fratricidal war of all against all, fighters and mercenaries from different parts of the Middle East would reconquer Syrian villages and towns from each other, and throughout the country there would be contingents of foreign troops.
Each year out of six was difficult for Syria and claimed tens of thousands of lives. But the current 2017 promises to add new difficult changes, and the reason for this may become a full-fledged U.S. involvement in the war in Syria.
The recent strike of 59 American Tomahawk missiles against Syria has already been called by Russian analysts ineffective. But, in my opinion, it is not about efficiency. It's a symbolic strike, similar to a volley of the Caliber missile from the Caspian Sea in 2015, which marked Russia's entry into the Syrian war. Now these 59 Tomahawk missiles, which have bombed the Syrian military base at Shayrat Airbase, have demonstrated the seriousness of new President Trump, who sees Syria as the area of their interests. Regardless of whether there is someone else already (for example, the Russian troops).
''It's a symbolic strike, similar to a volley of the Caliber missile from the Caspian Sea in 2015, which marked Russia's entry into the Syrian war. Now these 59 Tomahawk missiles, which have bombed the Syrian military base at Shayrat Airbase, have demonstrated the seriousness of new President Trump.'' Photo: topwar.ru
Self-deception with Trump
Now probably it doesn't make much sense to find out what are psychological reasons of the Trump mania that gripped the minds of Russian journalists, experts, political figures at the turn of 2016-2017. If what domestic politicians and analysts were dreaming about became true, President Trump would immediately meet with his overseas counterpart Vladimir, lift the sanctions, recognize Crimea Russian and take Russia into a coalition against ISIS (the organization banned in Russia — editor's note), in order to then fairly divide between the great leaders the laurels of the winners. Trump has met with dozens of politicians — but not with Putin. His firm stance on Crimea is already established. The sanctions remain in force. The coalition with Russia against ISIS… There is no such and is not expected.
The louder the Russian media praised the newly elected American President, the more dubious it seemed that the populist Trump would do what he promised in the heat of the election race. Now for the deluded admirers of Trump in Russia, it remains only to lament that ''Trump was framed'' or ''was forced'' to be not like they expected.
In my opinion, the reason for such confusion lies in the misunderstanding of the simple fact: the USA is not a person but a system. Trump has never been a revolutionist, he is a representative of the American oligarchy, and his pre-election populism successfully ended with the inauguration and the beginning of the real work. No matter how strongly they relied on him in Russia, but Trump could not act contrary to the national interests of the United States. They are determined by the whole complex of institutions, among which an important place is occupied by the same CIA and the Pentagon.
At the end of the day, the campaign slogan ''Make America Great Again'' was addressed primarily to conservative sectors of the society, who missed a strongman. Heirs of Bush and Reagan. I genuinely cannot understand — what did naive admirers in Russia expect from the new president?
''No matter how strongly they relied on him in Russia, but Trump could not act contrary to the national interests of the United States. They are determined by the whole complex of institutions, among which an important place is occupied by the same CIA and the Pentagon.'' Photo: eurosmi.ru
The Middle East is the area of responsibility of the United States
There is no doubt that the United States will act in the Middle East determinately. Obama became president partly because of his promises to end the war in Iraq unleashed by Bush. Trump has accused Obama of failures in the Middle East and the spineless position on Syria. Now the new president needs to show the muscles in the Middle East. What he is willing to do. In Syria.
Russian political scientists hoped that the U.S. became active in Syria to destroy ISIS. The American military was supposed to go there for this purpose. Indeed, Trump and several other American officials have repeatedly stressed that the priority in Syria is fighting ISIS and affiliates of al-Qaeda (the organisation banned in Russia – editor's note). But this position does not mean that they forgot about Assad. It takes the second place after ISIS in the U.S. list to eliminate. It will be targeted as well as militants of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
The Russian blogs are actively discussing why the Russian air defence failed to shoot down the American missiles. The answer is simple — for the same reason as it did the Israeli missiles, which bombed Damascus and Palmyra. The thing is not that they flew out of the hitting area of the air defence. The explanation of the inaction of our S-400 is purely political. Despite technological capabilities to reflect the air raids of the US air force or Israel on the position of the Syrian allies, Russia can hardly afford to act in kind. It is clearly demonstrated by the events of the downed Russian aircraft by the Turks. This time Moscow only announced the suspension of the Memorandum on the prevention of incidents and ensuring the safety of aviation in Syria. It is not even about cancellation but only suspension.
To shoot down the American missile would mean to speak out against the United States, which the Kremlin cannot afford. The Russian leadership, despite bold statements by the representatives of some departments, is acting cautiously and will not go into open conflict with the only world's superpower.
''The explanation of the inaction of our S-400 is purely political. Despite technological capabilities to reflect the air raids of the US air force or Israel on the position of the Syrian allies, Russia can hardly afford to act in kind.'' Photo: hispantv.com
Meanwhile, the ''ineffective'' attack of the U.S. missiles has provoked a stormy reaction in the world's political elite. Leaders of a number of influential states were quick to welcome the American initiative. A friend of Russia, Erdogan, has complained that the blow was not powerful enough. Netanyahu and Hollande strongly supported the American strikes. They were joined by the leaders of the countries of Europe and the Middle East. As it turned out, many countries were waiting for a new American initiative and took military action as an important call to action. The next step can be a creation of a no-fly zone in Syria. And then a military operation of the coalition against Assad.
No matter how we interpret these events, I must admit that on April 7 in the Middle East there ended the era of Obama, and the era of Trump has started. Whether the new American President will be indecisive like his predecessor or too aggressive like George Bush — only time will tell. The first move he has already made. Despite attempts to seem a black sheep, Trump is still a Republican, and he will act in the tradition of Republican presidents, for whom there was no doubt that the Middle East is the area of special interests of the United States.