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The United States of America needs to reiterate its global-police role

Ajmal Sohail

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In relation to the Trump’s isolationistic assertion, which America should pull back as a world police and according to its diminishing role, Counter Narco-Terrorism Alliance Germany called on Germany, together with France and Canada,to take the lead to keep in place the international liberal order.

The CNT-Alliance did not expect the long-winding pre-coalition debate (Sondierungs-Gespräche) with a number of possible outcomes. Germany is permanently tied up in internal affairs not being able to put much efforts into its self-determined leading role in Europe and the world, with no change being expected at least until mid-April.While Germany celebrates extensive navel-gazing, Angela Merkel tries to keep control within the EU through back room phone calls. Her ministers take advantage of the situation: Christian Schmidt, member of the CDU’s sister party CSU, acted against her directive in an EU decision end of November on Glyphosate, causing a huge fuss in all parties and poisoning the pre-coalition debate. The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, takes his chance too and pushes his agenda of modernizing the EU ahead, much to the dissatisfaction of Berlin. Together with the still not clearly vocalized foreign policy and the raising problems in the much divided German society,we do not expect Germany tobecome part of the joint role of a world leading group soon.

Now the eyes are once again drawn to the America’s leading role as a global-police, but the first year of the Trump administration has been characterized by the lack of clear policy. The great hopes that many countries of the world hung on the change of administration and a new proactive president in the White House have slowly been eclipsed by a sense of confusion, given United States behavior that shows little consistency and no clear strategic objectives.

President Obama, apart from striving for an agreement with Iran, limited his involvement in the Middle East, but was forced to direct new attention to the region due to the Islamic State challenge. In the election campaign, Trump also spoke in favor of limiting United States intervention in various world arenas. However, he too has been forced to confront the spread of Iranian hegemony, continue to fight the Islamic State, and attempt to stabilize Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, and Libya and Afghanistan (he sent thousands of more troops to fight insurgents in the country).

Consequently, it appears that the Trump administration has no choice but to continue in the role of the global-police to protect American interests. In places throughout the world, a vacuum is quickly filled by elements working against American interests. Under the previous administration, the vacuum was exploited by Iran, the Islamic State, Turkey, North Korea, Pakistan and Russia.

The Iranian regime is working fervently to expand its influence in South-Central Asia and middle-east. It can claim several achievements, due to the weakness of the previous American administration, as shown by the nuclear agreement. Thus, the Iranian regime after the JCPOA, while released from international isolation and economic sanctions and not facing any military or internal challenge, has managed to extend its influence to Afghanistan, Iraq (a Shiite government) and Yemen (through the Houthis); is in control of Lebanon (through Hezbollah); seeks control of Syria; is undermining Sunni regimes in the region, such as those in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia; and is supporting Hamas and Islamic Jihad in their war on Israel.

The Sunni jihadists strive to establish an Islamic caliphate, whether sooner, using the Islamic State (ISIS) model of announcing the caliphate and setting up a civilian system to administer the territories it conquers while continuing the military struggle to retain and expand these territories, or later, using the al-Qaeda method of first eliminating Western intervention in the Middle East and toppling the local “infidel” regimes, in order to establish the caliphate after their destruction. These elements must be defeated, the underground terror infrastructures that remain in their hands, particularly in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and North Africa. This terror will focus not only on Central-South Asian countries including Afghanistan and the Arab world but also on the West.

Given its global scope, the war on Salafist jihadist elements requires a concentrated international effort led by the United States, with intelligence, operational, economic, and political cooperation between all the relevant actors, particularly in the south-central Asia Middle East, to defeat them in the territory they control and to frustrate the terror attacks they intend to mount anywhere in the world.

President Erdogan supports the Muslim Brotherhood not only in the Middle East but also in Afghanistan. He has recently invited Gulbodin Hikmatyar a famous warlord and one of the founding figure of Muslim Brotherhood in Afghanistan to visit Ankara. Erdogan seeks to reposition Turkey as a neo-Ottoman empire based on the movement’s ideology. Under the Obama administration no significant American or international pressure was put on Erdogan, although he acted against American and European interests, his Economic assistance to the Islamic State through purchases of oil from the organization. He did not prevent the passage of jihadists from all over the world through Turkey, either on their way to join the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, or on their way back to their countries of origin, particularly in Europe, as trained and experienced terrorists. The result was a number of serious attacks carried out by these activists in Europe especially in Germany, France and Belgium. Erdogan has encouraged illegal migration of Muslims to Europe (refugees and economic migrants) through Turkey, and particularly to the Greek Islands in the Aegean Sea through a Turkish system of human smuggling. Erdogan does not hide his intention to Islamize Europe through demographic change.

Pakistani Army and the country’s Inter-service intelligence have continued to support insurgency in Afghanistan and has deepened it strategic depth in the country. The country tries to topple the Kabul regime which is ally of Washington and New Delhi. 

It is clear that one of the goals of President Vladimir Putin through his proactive involvement in Afghanistan and Syria is to strengthen the status of Russia as a global power. Nevertheless, Trump and Putin can reach an understanding regarding the division of spheres of influence.

The Arab Sunni camp felt abandoned and even betrayed by the Obama administration. The overthrow of President Husni Mubarak, the failure to support President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi against the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt at the start of the counterrevolution, and accommodation with the Shiite camp led by Iran as part of the strategy in the war on the Islamic State all led to a crisis of trust between the United States and those that were until then its natural allies in the region. President Trump reflects a different policy, as shown in his visit to Riyadh in May 2017 and the attempts to provide political, economic, and military support to non-jihadist Sunni elements in Syria, such as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). It is not clear if the policy of supporting non-jihadi Sunnis is continuing. True, since the start of the campaign in al-Raqqa there were signs of increasing American aid, but as the larger battles have died down and perhaps following Trump-Putin understandings on Syria, there are signs that support and assistance are shrinking. This is a serious error. If this is the case, then once again the United States will be seen by the Sunnis as an unreliable ally, while Putin manages to present himself as a reliable pillar for his allies.

The United States must adopt a clear position in favor of the Sunnis and against the Shiites led by Iran. The positive attempt to support the Kurds in their war against the Islamic State must set an example for similar support for non-jihadist Sunnis. In this context, the United States can obtain help from the Sunni countries, which will act out of their interest in preventing the spread of Shiite, Salafist, and jihadist influence, or the Muslim Brotherhood.

Obama’s eight years of foreign and security policy that weakened US status as a global power, failure by the Trump administration to stand up for its interests and those of its allies reflects badly on the US, particularly regarding North Korea, Iran and Pakistan. A gap between words and deeds showing unwillingness, lack of determination, and lack of seriousness will further weaken the United States. The attempts by previous administrations to postpone dealing with security challenges prove that over time the challenge only becomes more difficult, therefore Trump’s Administration needs to recap its role as a global-police. Whether he’ll be able to pick up the lead and take on his duty is much uncertain since the American President faces a number difficulties in his country and his personal surrounding. The most recent are a tax bill causing much opposition in America’s middle class and Special Counsel Mueller steadily taking out one of his allies after the other, leaving not much room to think about foreign policy. 

Ajmal Sohail is Co-founder and Co-president of Counter Narco-terrorism Alliance Germany and he is National Security and counter terrorism analyst. He is active member of Christian Democratic Union (CDU)as well.

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Venezuelan refugee crisis and how it is altering the surrounding regions

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Venezuela’s migration crisis has been in the news lately and recent UN polls show that nearly 2.3 million have already migrated from their homeland over the past few years. However, other estimates show a figure closer to four million Venezuelan immigrants.

This crisis is rapidly sinking its claws in the neighbouring countries and if the amount of people migrating keeps increasing, it might become the worst man-made disasters since the First and Second World Wars after the Syrian refugee crisis. The Syrian crisis gave birth to more than six million refugees, and although the number here is still around half of that toll, the Venezuelan crisis doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. The inflation over there is nearly a million percent – a number so absurd that the common people around the world are not able to even grasp the sheer magnitude of the situations developing every day in this country. The minimum monthly wage is a few American dollars, putting essentials like food – particularly rations like chicken – into the category of luxurious items. The economy has shrunk by half in five years. To explain the extent of this downfall, Girish Gupta – founder of Data Drum and former investigative, multimedia journalist in Venezuela/LatAm – tweeted: If you’d bought a million dollars in Venezuela’s local currency when President Nicolás Maduro came to power in 2013, it’d now be worth $3.40. Diseases that were once overcome – like measles and diphtheria – are making a comeback. Infant mortality rates are going up while approximately 1.3 million refugees who have already escaped Venezuela were suffering from malnourishment (according to UN officials).

However, these are not the last of the Venezuelans’ problems; the nations to whom the refugees sought to escape to are closing their doors on their faces – literally. Sunday saw Ecuador closing border crossings with Colombia to people who don’t have passports. This was seen as a certain way to reduce the bulk of refugees from entering other countries as passports are fairly difficult to obtain amidst the economical and political chaos. Jonnayker Lien, a migrant standing outside the Peruvian border with his entire family said, “Imagine people like us who have sold everything, down to our beds, to come here, and they close the door on us. We don’t know where to sleep, and we don’t have money to go back.” Crisis broke out in the town of Pacaraima, north Brazil, after local throngs started struggling against the refugees and pushed them back to the border. Already a penurious town, the locals resent sharing their remaining resources with these migrants. However, even a strong military force could not stop these migrants from coming into Brazil. Peru had twenty thousand migrants arriving in the past week.

An emergency regional summit has been called by officials from Ecuador where Venezuela and its neighbours could deal with the crisis. Yukiko Iriyama, a representative in Colombia for the U.N. refugee agency said, “The capacity of the region is overwhelmed. The magnitude of the situation really requires a regional comprehensive approach.” The recently implemented passport checks by Peru and Ecuador aimed to reduce the flow of refugees into the countries. However, all it did was reduce the legal way of entering into these nations and increased the illegal border crossings.  To deal with this disaster and the refugee predicament, representatives from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru will meet in Bogota next week. Christian Kruger, the head of Colombia’s migration authoritysaid in a statement, “The exodus of Venezuelan citizens is not a problem exclusive to Colombia, Peru, Ecuador or a single country. This is a regional problem and as such we must address it. Demanding passports from a nation that does not have them and whose government does not facilitate the issuance of this document is to encourage irregularity.” Peru is also calling a meeting at an individual level of the permanent council of the Organization of American States to discuss the migration.

The toll of migrants entering Colombia is around a million in fifteen months but nations like Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru are also receiving these refugees. Low skilled Venezuelans have flooded some Latin American job markets to find work and send money back home. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo that he will set up a UN team that will respond to the crisis. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that Guterres “told him that he would put together an internal coordination mechanism to make sure that the UN regional response is well coordinated.” “This is something that is not uncommon in these types of crises,” he added. Dany Bahar of the Brookings Institution suggested declaring this as a refugee crisis in order to seek help, saying, “It is up to the United Nations, together with the Organization of American States, to step up and recognize this problem as a refugee crisis so that the world can turn the proper attention to it and provide solutions.” He also added that none of the nations in the regionhave taken the initiative to provide a sustainable solution to the problem.

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Trump: The Symbol of America’s Isolation in the World

Mohammad Ghaderi

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The president of the United States, who came to power in 2016 with the slogan of “Reviving Washington’s Power”, has become the messenger of failure and defeat of his country in the West Asian region and in the international system. The U.S. numerous military and political defeats in countries such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon were so outstanding that there’s no way Trump can brag about his achievements in the region.

On the other hand, many Democrats in the United States, and even the traditional Republicans, have been criticizing the President’s costly and barren foreign policy in West Asia. In such a situation, Trump attempts to attribute this failure to the country’s previous administrations and condemn them over what is happening in today’s world, especially in the West Asian region, and he blames Obama for Washington’s constant and extensive failures in this area.

Besides, Trump’s other projections about the hard conditions of the U.S. in West Asia are noteworthy. In his recent remarks, Donald Trump said that if he wasn’t at top of the U.S. political and executive equations, Iran would capture the Middle East (West Asia)! This is while Islamic Republic of Iran created stability in the West Asian region, and besides, has stood against the long-term, medium-term, and short-term and destructive goals of the United States and its allies in the region.

Trump’s strategic weakness in the West Asia is an important issue which can’t be easily overlooked. Of course this strategic weakness did exist during Obama’s presidency, but the truth is that it reached its peak during Trump’s presidency. And in the future, this weakness will bring severe blows to the United States.

The fact is that the strategic calculations of the United States in the West Asia region have all failed. And many of the pre-assumptions that Washington called them “strategic propositions”, have never turned into reality for some reasons, including the vigilance of the Resistance movement in the region. This is the reason why America is so confused in confronting the equations of West Asia.

Under such circumstances, the only way before the President of the United States is to leave the region and confess to his defeat; an issue that many American analysts and strategists have noted. It shouldn’t be forgotten that in spite of his campaign slogans for stopping the military intervention in the region, the current president of the United States has intensified conflicts and created constant security crises in West Asia.

The direct, perfect, and comprehensive support of Donald Trump for takfiri terrorists reflects this fact. Trump started his support for ISIL since the beginning of his presence at the White House in early 2017, and he stood for the terrorists until the fall of ISIL in Syria. Even now, Trump is attempting to revive terrorist and takfiri groups in Iraq and Syria.

Despite passing half of his presidency, Trump has claimed that the defeat in Yemen, Syria and Iraq was Obama’s legacy. There is no doubt that Obama and his two secretaries of state, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, played a major role in creating terrorist and takfiri groups (especially ISIL), and committed bloodshed in Syria and Iraq.

There is also little ambiguity in the strategic, operational and even tactical defeat of the Obama administration in the battlefields of Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. However, Trump can’t deny his share in this defeat, and pretend as if he’s the messenger of the victory of the United States in these scenes! The fact is that Trump completed the military and political defeats of the United States in the West Asia region. Today, the United States is defeated in the battlefield, and can well see that its pieces had failed in these wars.

On the other hand, the White House has lost the political arena of the region. The failure of the United States in the Lebanese and Iraqi elections, on the one hand, and the popular support for the resistance groups in Yemen and Syria, has left Trump and his companions disappointed in the region. In such a situation, attributing the recent and ongoing defeats of the United States to the Obama administration is completely expectable, and at the same time, unacceptable!

Finally, we can see that just like Obama, George W Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan and Carter, Trump is stuck in this strategic miscalculation in the West Asian region. Undoubtedly, in his last days in power, Trump will also understand that there’s no way he can overcome this strategic weakness through Saudi and Emirati petrodollars.

However, it seems that the scope of Trump’s defeat in West Asia would be wider than the previous presidents of the United States. Undoubtedly, in the near future, Trump, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo and Nikki Haley will become the symbols of failure in the US foreign policy, especially in the West Asia. In other words, the president of the United States and his companions at the White House will have to admit to defeat in the West Asian region at a great expense, and this is exactly what frightens the American authorities.

first published in our partner Tehran Times

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Weather and White House Turmoil as Elections Loom

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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Hurricane Michael wreaked havoc as it traversed the Florida panhandle.  The first Category 5 hurricane to hit the area since 1881 when records began, its 155 mph winds (only 5 mph short of Category 6) felled massive trees, blew away houses, collapsed buildings and left devastation in its wake.  Relatively fast moving at 14 mph, it was soon gone continuing as a Category 3 into neighboring Georgia and then further up its northeasterly path.  It seemed to signify a stamp of approval for the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on holding earth to a 1.5 degree Celsius warming issued a couple of days earlier.  We are at one degree now so storms can only be expected to get worse.

In northeastern Turkey, a 300-year old stone bridge disappeared overnight.  Villagers convinced it had been stolen called in the police.  Further investigation concluded it had been washed away by a flash flood caused by a sudden summer thunderstorm further upstream — clearly far more intense than in the previous three centuries.

Ever more powerful hurricanes, monsoons and forest fires point to a proliferation of extreme weather events that experts relate to global warming.  Yet President Donald Trump and his administration remain obdurate in climate change denial.

Thins are certainly warming up in the White House.  Nikki Haley announced her resignation in an amicable meeting with the president.  A staunch defender of many of Mr. Trump’s most egregious foreign policy changes, the UN Representative will be leaving at the end of the year to pursue opportunities in the private sector.  So said the announcement.  An astute and ambitious politician she has probably reassessed the costs versus benefits of remaining in a Trump administration.  Some tout her as a future presidential candidate.  Should she be successful she will be the first woman president, who also happens to be of Indian and Sikh ancestry.

The rap singer Kanye West visited the president in the Oval office.  A ten-minute rant/rap praising him was followed by a hug for which Mr. West ran round the wide desk that had been seemingly cleared of all paraphernalia for the performance.  He is one of the eight percent of blacks voting Republican.  Sporting the Trump trademark, Make-America-Great-Again red hat, he claimed it made him Superman, his favorite superhero.  And some suggested it was all further proof the place had gone insane.

A little over three weeks remain to the U.S. midterm elections on November 6th.  Their proximity is evidenced not by rallies or debates rather by the barrage of negative TV ads blasting opponents with accusations of shenanigans almost unworthy of a felon.  A couple of months of this and you lose any enthusiasm for voting.  Perhaps it is one reason why nearly half the electorate stays home.  Given such a backdrop, the furor over ‘Russian meddling’ in elections appears to be a trifle misplaced.  Others call the whole business a ‘witch hunt’ and state flatly the U.S. does the same.

The old idiom, ‘put your own house in order’ is particularly apt when we realize the beginning of this affair  was a Democratic National Committee email leak showing ‘the party’s leadership had worked to sabotage Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign’.  It resulted in the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Always fair, aboveboard elections?  Not bloody likely, as the British would say.  Given the rewards, it’s against human nature.

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