Daniel Halliday
Dec 25 · Last update 4 mo. ago.
What effect will pulling US forces out of the Middle East have on the region?
Trump’s recent announcements to pull US forces out of Syria immediately and to reduce the forces in Afghanistan by 7,000 were followed with the resignation of Defence Secretary James Mattis, who failed to dissuade Trump from such an abrupt withdrawal from the conflicts in the region. Criticism and speculation over Trump’s reasoning behind the decision have followed in the media, but what possible effects could this decision have on the region?
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A potential power vacuum
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Further destabilisation
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Possibly positive for the Middle East
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A potential power vacuum

While only time will tell if the region becomes more or less stable, what does seem clear is that the US, having such a powerful role in the region and worldwide for so long, will probably cause an imbalance in power as they leave the region militarily. This could have many massive diplomatic and economic repercussions, as powerful players both in the region and internationally may attempt to step in to this void and capitalise economically or territorially. However equally as worrying this could lead to smaller radical states or groups utilising the confusion to consolidate power, possibly leading to groups such as ISIS posing an increased threat or even leading to further fragmentation or illegal annexations in the Middle East.

This scenario is arguably already playing out following the recent Israeli strikes against Iranian targets in Syria and Syria’s interception of such attacks. This move is particular out of character for Israel, as the state commonly carries out cross border bombing raids, but rarely admits to it in such a way, prompting many to question the reasoning behind such actions. Either Israel is stepping into the US' imperialistic shoes in the region, Netanyahu is attempting to play the strongman and deflect away from scandals concerning him, or Israel is retaliating against another power that could benefit from reduced US presence in the region.

aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/syrian-air-defences-shoot-hostile-targets-state-media-190120234214009.html

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Daniel Halliday
Jan 22
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DH edited this paragraph
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/syrian-air-defences-shoot-hostile-targets-state-media-190120234214009.html
Further destabilisation

This could be the start of another diplomatic and humanitarian disaster, with tyrannical forces such as ISIS, the Taliban and leaders such as Assad being free to run amok with human rights abuses in order to further solidify their power. Attention has been drawn to US allies that could possibly be put into a very difficult situation such as Kurdish forces currently engaged in conflict with the Turkish military in northern Syria. Furthermore, the sudden nature of this decision has led some to question Trump’s reasoning behind this decision; with politicians and journalists speculating whether the decision is a result of Turkish coercion, rather than a strategic decision that will increase stability in the region.

This situation has already led to US Senator Lindsay Graham visiting Ankara in mid January to try to calm the situation between Turkey and Kurdish People’s Defence Units (YPG) forces, calling for a clear US exit plan to minimise further destabilisation of the region. Turkey’s stance remains that the YPG are closely linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) a recognised terrorist organisation and therefore treats the YPG as a legitimate threat, accusing them as being responsible for the 2015 conflict in southern Turkey. Current arrangements to prevent escalating tensions on the Turkish border include the forming of a 32km safe zone along the Turkish border, but Erogan has been clear that Turkish forces are ready to “take action” and take over the situation if promises are not kept.

aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/isil-targets-joint-kurdish-convoy-northeastern-syria-190121155934249.html

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Daniel Halliday
Jan 22
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DH edited this paragraph
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/isil-targets-joint-kurdish-convoy-northeastern-syria-190121155934249.html
Possibly positive for the Middle East

With the removal of US forces in the region, the countries of the Middle East may be able to solve their own issues in a way that is organic to their socio-political climate, without imperialistic interference from the United States. The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, even Libya are all widely recognised and criticised as being illegal invasions or occupations and have arguably all had nothing but negative effects in the region. Arguably the US' Middle Eastern foreign policy has been more a strategy of creating a state of perpetual warfare to benefit no-one but the US military industrial complex, and the end of this could at least give some hope for diplomacy in the region.

Afghanistan is a losing war that history shows to be too difficult to solve through occupation, and with the Taliban having made territorial gains in recent years to be in control of three quarters of the country at present, it looks like America can do no better than the Soviets. Syria was arguably a US attempt to sponsor a regime change that ended in fuelling a weapons black market and unending violence, with Obama's secret authorisation of the CIA's 'Timber Sycamore' program being an effort to topple another adversary with less public criticism. Both have been disastrous operations and leaving may help these situations resolve through regional diplomacy, unquestionable something that cannot happen with the destabilising force of the US in the region.

youtube.com/watch?v=fovwPl1guIQ

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Daniel Halliday
Jan 21
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DH edited this paragraph
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fovwPl1guIQ
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