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美国在中东的四大支撑开起坍塌

admin | 2020-09-09 16:10 浏览数:

原标题:美国在中东的四大支撑开起坍塌

https://www.ft.com/content/baf1a9ca-75d8-4519-88ed-0ea7d0d6eddf

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America’s four pillars in the Middle East are crumbling

The next administration must cut a path free of alliances with Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia HISHAM MELHEM

Hisham Melhem The writer is a non-resident fellow at the Gulf States Institute in Washington

JUNE 30 2020

America’s strategy in the Middle East has rested on the four pillars of Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt since the late 1970s.

US successes in the region have been, at least in part, due to close collaboration with one or more of these states: the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty; the containment of Iran’s Revolution; the defeats of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, the terrorists of al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State.

Yet, 40 years later, America’s partial retrenchment and rising nationalist and chauvinistic passions in the region have led the same four states to use violence outside their territories to shape the destiny of their weaker neighbours.

The US today is mostly a hapless observer, as Russia’s influence keeps growing. While Donald Trump has developed close personal relations with the leaders of these states, the countries themselves have drained a once-significant reservoir of goodwill in the US. Only Israel retains genuine support, but its harsh treatment of Palestinians under occupation and increasingly chauvinistic political orientation has weakened its standing in the US, particularly within the Democratic party and the Jewish community. The other autocratic states are fast running out of friends, both in public opinion and government.

It is striking that both former president Barack Obama and Mr Trump believe the region’s complex problems are not amenable to American solutions. Both presidents, for different reasons, have seen the inhospitable Middle East as a graveyard for US hubris. Mr Obama saw a region inhabited by “free-riders”, whose leaders should assume more responsibilities for endemic problems. Mr Trump, who decries the financial burden of the region, would like to withdraw American forces from South Asia and the Middle East, leaving a world he could never understand to its own devices. Both men accepted Russia’s primacy in broken states such as Syria and Libya, and both have been obsessed by Iran, in very different ways. Mr Obama held his 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran to be the jewel in his Middle Eastern crown; Mr Trump has torn it up with glee.

Turkey and Israel are now fighting a motley crew of groups in Syria in what appears at times to be a war of all against all to reshape a country disfigured beyond recognition. They have been emboldened enough by the Trump administration; Turkey to crush Kurdish political aspirations in Syria and beyond and Israel to annex a significant part of the West Bank rendering its occupation a permanent conquest. In recent years, Turkey has dispatched its armed forces to the former provinces of the Ottoman Empire, from nearby Syria and Iraq all the way to Libya, where Ankara wants to establish a permanent military presence to safeguard its past economic investments and secure new ones.

Recently, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also threatened to intervene militarily in Libya to check Turkey’s advances.

When Mr Obama asked Gulf states to assume more responsibility for their security needs,产品展厅 he did not anticipate that the reckless crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, would take his call as a blessing to wage a savage air campaign against his Houthi enemies in Yemen. The world watched helplessly the spectacle of the richest Arab country cratering the poorest into a moonscape, with considerable logistical support from both the Obama and Trump administrations. Tens of thousands of civilians, including many children, were killed and maimed by the Saudi-led coalition while the Houthis, armed by Iran, would indiscriminately bomb Yemeni and Saudi cities.

Which path ought the next US administration take? For a start it should end its special relationships with these four rampaging countries.

Turkey is no longer an ally, now that it is being armed by Russia. It is on its way to becoming an American adversary. Israel continues to enjoy US financial largesse and almost unqualified political support, while showing contempt for America’s standing and interests. There is simply no justification for America’s support for the most oppressive regime in Cairo since the Egyptian revolution of 1952. And when oil prices are at record lows and the US is producing more energy than Saudi Arabia, Washington should end its embrace of that opaque kingdom ruled by a young prince who takes pleasure in persecuting men and women of letters.

It is high time the US stopped leaning on these four brittle pillars of salt. Now is the moment for American policymakers to cut a new path in the Middle East, at an equal distance from George W Bush’s quixotic and interventionist freedom agenda, which died in Iraq, and the irresponsible retrenchment that came after, leaving in its wake a region stretching from Benghazi to Bab al-Mandeb in tatters.

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