By Hossein Ajorlou*
The regional policy announced and followed by the United States under President Donald Trump in West Asia has been among major topics of discussion for West Asia analysts. Although no single opinion can be offered on this policy, there are certain points, which are noteworthy in this regard. During the short period during which he has been in the White House, measures taken by Trump have been aimed at continuation of the United States’ interventionism in this region.
However, Trump’s interventionism is of a selective and purposive type in line with general approaches taken by Republicans, so that, no clear-cut foreign policy or doctrine can be extracted of it. However, one can generally opine that Trump’s future doctrine will be based on a nationalistic and non-ideological viewpoint and a pragmatic approach to various regional issues.
As a result, it is not exactly clear what reaction he will show in the face of the ongoing issues and crises in international system. Nonetheless, some highlights of Trump’s regional policy in West Asia can be enumerated as follows:
- Mounting pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran: One of the regional policies of Trump in West Asia, about which most analysts and experts have no doubt, is to increase pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran and its regional allies. Considering restrictions on issuing visas for Iranian citizens; projection and contradictory remarks on the implementation of Iran’s nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA); and intensification of non-nuclear sanctions against Iran, which are in one way against the spirit of the JCPOA, can be considered as various components of this policy.
- Making effort to rebuild relations with traditional allies of the United States in the region: A few months into Donald Trump’s presidency, one can see that his foreign policy team is bent on improving Washington’s relations with such traditional allies as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Zionist regime. Relations with these countries had become problematic under former US president, Barack Obama, due to US criticism of human rights situation in some of these countries, conclusion of the JCPOA with Iran as well as Washington’s passive policy in Syria. In line with Trump administration’s new policy, the United States has been increasing support for Saudi Arabia in its war on Yemen, and at the same time, has supported the constitutional referendum in Turkey, backed policies adopted by the Zionist regime’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and thrown its weight behind military action against Syrian army following a chemical attack on Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun.
- Management of relations with Russia with regard to West Asia developments: Under former US president, Barack Obama, tensions soared high between the United States and Russia with regard to West Asia developments, especially the crisis in Syria. As a result, American and Russian officials failed to resolve their differences despite holding a number of bilateral meetings. However, despite certain remarks by some Republican figures, who have called for serious treatment of Russia, and although tensions are still high between the two sides, Trump is trying to overcome differences between Washington and Moscow.
In conclusion, it seems that the United States’ regional policy under Trump’s administration is continuation of the country’s interventionist policy, and save for the management of relations with Russia, it is characterized by a Republican approach, which calls for mounting pressures on Iran and mending fences with traditional allies of the United States in the region.
*Hossein Ajorlou, West Asia Analyst