House Democrats and the U.S. Middle Eastern Policy

The outcome of the midterm election was a gridlock; the House of Representatives is under Democrats’ control and the Republicans maintain a majority in the Senate. Trump’s policies will be under more scrutiny and a series of investigation is most likely to incur to stonewall him. On the U.S. Middle Eastern foreign policy; President Trump might be forced to compromise with the House to achieve the more controversial goals of his foreign policy agenda such as his policy towards Iran or this would not have any meaningful impact. Anyway the main goal of this brief essay to document Trump’s agenda and strategy in the Middle East.

Curbing the Iranians

Ever since the appointment of the national security advisor John Bolton, the Trump administration has taken more aggressive strategy towards Tehran and the first step was unilaterally withdrawing from Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action also known as the Iran nuclear deal under the guise Tehran was failing to uphold their end of the agreement. The international community reactions were mixed but as Stratfor national security magazine reported, “For many in Europe, the U.S. withdrawal is just the latest example of the Trump administration’s refusal to back a rules-based order and the norms of the international community.” Out of desperation, the European Union and Iran try to salvage the deal as the Heritage Foundation reported: “On June 6, the European Commission updated its Blocking Statute to prohibit EU firms from complying with American sanctions and to protect European companies trading with Iran from secondary sanctions imposed by Washington.” But the efforts are largely failing because companies are faced with secondary sanctions from the U.S. and Iran is a much smaller economy. The Trump administration is isolating the Iranian economy by directly cutting off oil and gas exports and the ultimate aim is to cripple Iranian influence in the region.

Counterbalancing and Suppressing Iranian Influence

The Trump administration strategy is imposed sanctions on energy exports and supporting American allies in the region such as Israel and the Oil Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Hence U.S. support of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and the Israeli have been conducting a proxy conflict with Iran in Syria. I believe the end goal is to cut off the terrorist organizations from their main benefactor, and their influence is quite potentially destabilizing. Although the war in Yemen is a humanitarian disaster the criticism of the Saudi-led is misguided. The goal of the coalition is to restore the legitimate government in Yemen and repelled the Iranian-back Houthi terrorist organization, and enforcing United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216 essentially demanding the Houthi to withdraw from their territories.

The Great Irony

Despite Trump administration aggressive strategy all of his action is indirectly benefitting his enemies. His policies are forcing Iran to be more dependent on China and Russia to a lesser degree. The Chinese have made several notable investments to Iranian internal infrastructure, and one of the opponents to the United States unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal. As things are hitting the fan, the Chinese influence steadily grows in the Middle East. In end, the Chinese might be the savior that Tehran needed to stay afloat. In Yemen, despite the efforts of the Saudi-led coalition efforts, it’s a stalemate yet the Iranian influence grows as Yemen implode. There’s nothing indicating the Houthi will reduce their ties to Iran but double down.

Final Thoughts: Entertaining the Idea of a Regime Change

So far Trump’s foreign policy is marked by ignorance and a dangerous incompetence. Despite all of his efforts he ends up leaving his adversaries in a better position of strength. On Iran, his policies is somewhat efficient and in the long term is a regime change. I am quite hesitant to support regime support and social engineering; the fundamental problem is committing long term, and democracies frequently changes over a short period of time. Not to mention the ancient evil of popular opinion is an impediment to U.S. foreign policy.

Notes

Us Midterm Results Could Constrain Trump’s Middle East Agenda

Joyce Karam — https://www.thenational.ae/world/the-americas/us-midterm-results-could-constrain-trump-s-middle-east-agenda-1.787231

Trump’s Free Ride from Congress Just Ended

Andrew Prokop — https://www.vox.com/platform/amp/2018/11/6/18025036/election-results-democrats-win-house-trump-investigations-analysis?__twitter_impression=true

U.s. Iran Policy After the Demise Of the Nuclear Deal

James Phillips — https://www.heritage.org/middle-east/report/us-iran-policy-after-the-demise-the-nuclear-deal

Why the Eu and Iran Have Little Hope Of Rescuing the Nuclear Deal

Stratfor — https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/why-eu-and-iran-have-little-hope-rescuing-nuclear-deal

The Eu Can’t Avoid U.s. Sanctions on Iran

Elizabeth Rosenberg — https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/europe/2018-10-10/eu-cant-avoid-us-sanctions-iran

Iran’s Support For Terrorist Groups

https://www.lawfareblog.com/irans-support-terrorist-groups

How the U.s. Is Empowering Iran in Yemen

Daniel Byman — https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/middle-east/2018-07-26/how-us-empowering-iran-yemen

China Courts Iran

Alex Vatanka — https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2017-11-01/china-courts-iran

Security Council Demands End To Yemen Violence, Adopting Resolution 2216 (2015), with Russian Federation Abstaining | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases

https://www.un.org/press/en/2015/sc11859.doc.htm

Will China Undermine Trump’s Iran Strategy?

Dina Esfandiary-Ariane Tabatabai — https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2018-07-20/will-china-undermine-trumps-iran-strategy

The Iran Deal Pullout: How Will Tehran Respond?

Michael Eisenstadt — https://www.the-american-interest.com/2018/11/01/the-iran-deal-pullout-how-will-tehran-respond