Trump Did Not Achieve Peace In The Middle East
His deal helped a small population within the region.
By Jason and Phillip | 9/23/20
While Trump signed a peace deal with the UAE, Bahrain, and Israel, three countries that have maintained relations for years to strengthen their economies, civil war, coronavirus, and hunger continue to plague Yemen, whose population is larger than the total population of the three countries within the deal. In Yemen, these crises have made the situation dire enough that 4 in 5 people need aid. ISIS and similar groups remain, Syria is still recovering from a civil war, Qatar oppresses its overwhelmingly foreign working population, and Saudi Arabia remains one of the worst countries in the world as far as democracy. If there is any idea that Trump achieved peace in the Middle East, let us sum up the populations of all three countries in the deal: 19 million, or one in every 21 of the expansive region’s inhabitants. Trump’s deal potentially improved relations and economic strength within three of the most developed countries in the Middle East while neglecting the poverty, war, and crises that plague many other nations throughout the region.
Israel has been a source of strife throughout the Middle East: it had been threatening to annex the West Bank from Palestine. However, the deal does not reach as far as “peace,” as none of these players were actually in conflict, and the deal does not mention Israel's true enemies: the Palestinians, Iran, and Hezbollah. The normalization of relations means “the creation of embassies, commercial air routes, tourism, security and intelligence ties, and access to Israel’s high-technology products and marketplace” (Slate). In fact, all of these countries were already highly involved in smoke-filled room trade deals. The deal will allow for a public extension of clandestine maneuvering and will likely bring increased prosperity to all three.
Given that all countries involved are hostile to Iran, there are reports that Americans will sell F-35 stealth fighters, and as both Binyamin Netanyahu and Trump are in need of a foreign policy victory, many view the deal as a coalition-building, arms dealing, publicity stunt. Unfortunately, the deal will probably not achieve anything which would help the majority of people who the many wars and crises of the region are affecting.
Israel’s one concession was to suspend the plan to unilaterally annex the West Bank. Netanyahu's plan to invade has been met with incredulity by other world leaders, who were shocked that Israel's solution to the decades long tension was to flex its military force. The peace deal ended the plan without a loss of pride or concessions to surrounding countries. In other words, Netanyahu’s aggression and blunder became a bargaining chip and an asset.
In fact, many observers note that the much stepped-on Palestine may be the biggest loser. Their precarious position benefited from the hostility of anti-Semitism that many surrounding countries felt towards Israel. With this decreasing, Israel is less surrounded by enemies, and yet Palestine is still surrounded by Israel. For years, Palestine has been powerless against advances of the richer and stronger Israel. With the Trump negotiating team offering a very Israel-biased peace deal, some Palestinians have given up on a two-state solution and requested a united state, where all citizens are equal. However, with the long history of violence between Israel and Palestine, this is likely out of the question. Until America, or someone, brokers a deal between the two most ferocious opponents in the region, there will not be peace.
In addition, Trump offers one open hand in peace while slyly sucker-punching with the other. Despite promises to end the endless wars that Bush entangled the U.S. in and Obama failed to disentangle us from, Trump recently added more troops to Syria following Russian aggression. Although Bashar Al-Assad has largely unified the country and claims the sort of authoritarian peace found in the late U.S.S.R., there is still fighting in North-Eastern Syria which increased U.S. troop deployment will prolong. And as long as dictators rule, there is always the possibility of another Arab Spring.
By focusing only on solving warfare in an attempt to win a prize, Trump neglects the massive humanitarian crisis in the Middle East. During the coronavirus, the developed world has neglected the basic problems of housing and water that millions of refugees face. Instead of making the rich parts of the Middle East richer, Trump could instead focus his attention on improving the lives of the neglected.
Although many conservatives are clamoring for Trump to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, true peace is unlikely to be achieved for a while. The deal did, however, bolster Trump in the US: his supporters now have a talking point, however inaccurate, that the president has helped a long-tense region develop. Where Trump seeks any way to avoid mentioning the coronavirus, global warming, racial tension, or issues that have affected Americans over this year, foreign policy, even that which does not achieve benefits for many, is a potentially effective distraction from the hundreds of thousands of deaths Trump chose not to try and prevent.