Donald and Melania Trump with King Salman and El-Sisi at new counter-terror center (Image credit: The White House from Washington, DC (President Trump's Trip Abroad) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
As an Arab and Muslim, I can confirm from my experiences that Arab states are now taking the US very seriously. This was not the case at all under the Obama administration.
Nevertheless, some in the media think otherwise, an example of which was a recent article by Israeli-American journalist Caroline Glick, who claims America is now the “laughing stock” of Arab and Muslim states, suggesting President Donald Trump is just following Obama’s policies.
Glick, and a few others, are wrong in my estimation. Let’s examine the facts on the ground.
What may be the most pressing issue for Trump’s foreign policy is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I reported months ago that the administration had warned Hamas, the PLO, and their political partner Jordanian King Abdullah II not to launch a third Intifada. All three had been planning one. It took only a quick “warning” visit by the CIA director to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Jordan, and instantly both stopped their calls for a third Intifada.
Further, a so-called reconciliation deal between the PA and Hamas was recently negotiated under Egyptian patronage and American pressure. Some, including Glick, claimed the Hamas terror group was receiving US endorsement and legitimization. But a more accurate read is that Hamas handed Gaza to Egypt.
That means America’s strong ally, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, is now Gaza’s caretaker. With him in position, Hamas is no longer in a position to conduct terror raids on Israel. In other words, the so-called reconciliation was a mere façade for this change to a de facto Egyptian takeover.
So, why did Hamas give in to El-Sisi? My inside sources confirm the US administration has authorized him to handle Hamas, and even issued a threat: If Hamas begins another war with Israel, the US won’t stop Israel from going after Hamas to the end.
This is important; in 2014 Israel came close to annihilating Hamas, but Obama stopped it. Trump won’t do that. To the contrary, he would bless Israel’s efforts. Hamas knows this, even while many in the press appear not to.
If Hamas decides to rebel against El-Sisi, it can be estimated that Israel would finish it off this time and the US won’t save Hamas.
Abandoning the Kurds?
Another allegation that has been leveled against President Trump is that he has failed to protect the Kurds against the pro-Iran Iraqi government. This could not be further from the truth.
The administration has been very supportive of the Kurds, and enabled their troops to establish themselves in huge areas in both Syria and Iraq, which the US itself had liberated from ISIS. The US is wisely looking at gradual, de facto, Kurdish self-determination, through intelligence, military, and political commitments.
The US is against a premature Kurdish declaration of independence because it would be too risky for the Kurds themselves at this time. Nevertheless, the US remains fully supportive of all the de facto mechanisms Kurdistan is executing. The sticking point appears to be in the “declaration” and not the right to self-determination, because a premature declaration destabilizes US plans that benefit the Kurds. As the Iraqi state keeps failing – and this is not the US’ fault by any means – it is only natural that a fully-functioning Kurdistan could become independent. Kurdistan is not there yet, but once it is, the US will be its most supportive backer.
Further, my intelligence sources confirm the US has already warned the Iraqi government against an attack on the Kurdish areas beyond Kirkuk, and have even pressured Iraq to use an unprecedented term: “the disputed areas with the Kurds.” Up until this point only Kirkuk was a “disputed area,” and Iraq’s government considered all of Kurdistan as merely an Iraqi governorate.
US Congressman Duncan Hunter has been vocal about Iraqi troops using US tanks while waving Hezbollah flags. What he apparently does not grasp is that Iraq’s dependence on American arms puts the Iraqi military at the mercy of the US. The US could simply stop its supply of spare parts to Iraq at any moment and those tanks would become junk. This is why the US has just recently delivered more F16s to Iraq. Should Iraq bomb the Kurds with them, the US could stop its supply of spare parts. An Iraqi source has confirmed to me: “Our supply of spare parts is enough for our F16s’ operations for no more than two weeks; the Americans are very stingy with spare parts, they give them to us drop by drop.”
In fact, the pro-Iran Iraqi government was so helpless that it had to “criminalize the waving of Israeli flags.” Meanwhile, the Kurds are still waving both the Israeli and Kurdish flags on their soil, in more evidence that neither Iraq nor Iran have power over Kurdistan.
On the other hand, Congressman Hunter began pushing for the sale of lethal drones to Jordan’s king just weeks after a Jordanian airman executed three US Green Berets, and Jordan’s regime was officially and publicly defending the killer and blaming the American victims.
Cleaning Up ISIS and Syria
Meanwhile, many seem to swiftly overlook Trump’s biggest accomplishment: ISIS is almost gone! The very ISIS that had thrived under Obama’s nose.
Without publicity and drama, and in his first month in the White House, President Trump deployed US special forces in cooperation with Egyptian and Kurdish troops to attack ISIS in Syria. ISIS has lost 90% of its area and thousands of fighters.
Also, Trump has deployed America’s military might to secure a ceasefire in Syria. Bloodshed has dropped to very low rates. There are no more epic massacres from either side. And while Russia is claiming victory, the US boots on the grounds are calling the shots, and the US has full control of Syria’s airspace.
Additionally, safe zones have been created and Syrian refugees are returning home, while their flow into Europe has dropped.
Why is this so avidly overlooked by the liberal and leftist media?
Trump’s war on ISIS did not stop with the military. The president took a trip to Saudi Arabia to meet Arab leaders and pressed Sunni states to cut all kinds of support to Islamist terror. Most of them welcomed the call, while others chose to keep supporting Islamists and are now paying for that. For example, Qatar is now under economic and political siege by most Arab countries, while Jordan’s king is isolated and shunned by most Arab states.
This could have never have happened if Trump was not in office.
What is more, Trump has offered full support and cooperation to Saudi Arabia’s modernizing crown prince Mohammad Ben Salman, who has allowed women to drive and locked up all terror-inciters and radical preachers. Ben Salman is now advocating a 2030 vision for Saudi Arabia, where moderation and peace become the norm with a window open for a just and lasting peace with Israel. As a result, most Arab states are now seeking regional peace with Israel. This is what the president’s peace envoy, Jason Greenblatt, has been silently and tirelessly working on, without fuss and noise.
Arab states are taking America very seriously now. They know there is a new, tough, decisive, and strong sheriff in town. This is good for America, Israel, and us, the Arab people, too.
In the Middle East, America is great again!
Mudar Zahran is the Secretary General of the Jordanian Opposition Coalition.