The Turkish Armed Forces launched an attack on the Kurdish armed areas in northeastern Syria on Wednesday (October 9). The Turkish army first launched airstrikes and shelling on targets such as the Kurdish armed base and the arsenal. The ground-based forces then crossed the border into Syria at two locations. Turkish President Erdogan said that the military operation is to eliminate the Kurdish military forces in the Turkish-Syrian border area and the threat of remnants of the Islamic State Organization in order to set up a safe area to allow Syrian refugees fleeing to Turkey to return home.
Turkey has long regarded Kurds as terrorists, especially the Kurdish Workers’ Party in the territory and the Syrian Kurdish armed forces. Syria was caught in a civil war in 2011. The Iraqi state and many armed forces against the Assad government rose. The United States supported the Kurdish armed forces to fight against the Iraqi state and against the government. Today, the Iraqi state has basically been annihilated, and Syria has split into the southern part of the Assad government, the north of the opposition and the Turkish army, and the northeastern part of the Kurdish armed forces. Trump announced his withdrawal from Syria earlier this year and was accused of abandoning his allies’ Kurdish armed forces. Later, he decided to let 400 US troops stay in the area and promised to cooperate with Turkey to set up a common patrol security zone in Syria on the Turkish-Syrian border.
With a series of recent events in the Middle East, especially Iran’s increased threat to US interests, and the United States has not made a substantive response, Erdogan realized that Trump’s Middle East policy has quietly changed and decided to take the initiative. He announced on the 5th of this month that he will send troops to Syria. The White House announced the next day that military operations against Turkey “do not support, do not participate”, and the US military will withdraw from the relevant areas. This shows that regional security in the Middle East is no longer on Trump’s political agenda.
Trump’s Middle East policy has followed the former President Obama era, ending the US military intervention in the Middle East, but Obama’s withdrawal is more cautious, and Trump appears to be in a hurry. Trump is the president of businessmen, focusing on narrow and short-term interests in both internal affairs and diplomacy. He does not want to do business without immediate interests. He often emphasizes that the United States only fights for its own interests, and it will not fight the unsettled and winning.
In the Middle East, the United States’ biggest interest is energy security and its allies, Israel, which is now a net exporter of energy, and Saudi Arabia’s security is relatively less important to it. In the past, the United States supported the Kurdish armed forces because of the need to counter terrorism and counterbalance the influence of Iran and Russia. When the time was changed, the strategic value of the Kurdish armed forces was not as good as before, and it was naturally abandoned by the United States. Israel’s security is dominated by the Iranian threat. The United States has unilaterally withdrawn from the Iranian nuclear agreement and strengthened sanctions against Iran. However, Iran’s reaction has been fierce, including increased support for the Yemeni civil war Hussein rebels, and many attacks on the oil tank in the Persian Gulf. The ship, which shot down the US military drone in July, was even more airstrikes in Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities in September. In the face of the US military attack and the Saudi version of the Pearl Harbor incident, Trump only made the threat of exporting heads and the surface posture of assembling warships in the Persian Gulf, which confirmed that the United States is a paper tiger in the Middle East. In fact, Trump’s removal of the hawkish, main-war national security adviser, Bolton, and his earlier wish to negotiate with the Taliban and meet with Iran’s leaders are showing his gradual abandonment of the US’s geopolitical presence in the Middle East.
The United States has weakened its commitment to security in the Middle East and will certainly push the Middle East into the historical process of the geopolitical reshuffle. Traditional regional powers such as Turkey and Iran are bound to find opportunities to expand their influence, trying to find the glory of the former Empire of Osman and Persia, and Erdogan’s swing of Syria is the first event of a major reshuffle. Israel and Saudi Arabia are also bound to respond to regional changes in the balance of power. The most profound crisis in the Middle East is whether Iran and Saudi Arabia will eventually fight and whether Israel will preemptively launch attacks on Iran. The chaos in the Middle East will also be more dangerous because of the confrontation, because Israel is a nuclear-weapon state, and Iran is also considered to be developing nuclear weapons, and there is Russian support behind it.
The spillover effect of Trump’s foreign policy changes is great. The United States under Trump is clearly no longer a solid ally. From Saudi Arabia and Israel in the Middle East, NATO and the European Union, and Japan and South Korea in Northeast Asia, it is clear that leaders must rethink and adjust the reliance on the United States to provide security. National security strategy. In fact, with the rise of China and the decline of the overall national strength of the United States, the strength of the United States in the world can be relatively small. Whether it is Trump or Obama, or even which party will serve as the president in the future, the United States will reduce its external resources, and strategic contraction is the general trend. The geopolitical landscape of the world is entering an era of great adjustment full of uncertainty and danger.