Wednesday,21 February, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1356, (10 - 16 August 2017)
Wednesday,21 February, 2018
Issue 1356, (10 - 16 August 2017)

Ahram Weekly

In focus: Trump’s standoff with doctrine

Trump promised radical change before entering the White House. But then he discovered that US geo-strategy holds as friends his supposed enemies, writes Galal Nassar

اقرأ باللغة العربية

Using fiery rhetoric during his electoral campaign, President Donald Trump promised his supporters core and dramatic changes in US foreign policy: an end to changing regimes through force; opposing the destruction of states, peoples, armies and institutions in the Middle East; and preventing radical Islamists from reaching power in Arab Spring countries. He cited examples of devastation in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iraq, and commended Egypt’s alertness in preventing extremists from destroying the Egyptian state, and upending the plot to empower political Islam and violent armed groups.

But when Trump reached the White House, and even earlier when he began forming his cabinet, he crashed down to reality. Briefings with intelligence, foreign and national security agencies revealed the intricacies of behind-the-scenes foreign policy, links between national security and the circles of action, and contact and overlap with other players. They also exposed the allies, agents and tools used in this policy, the overt and covert funding, and plans to fund governments, groups and militias, as well as identifying enemies in public who are in fact friends in secret.

Trump, inexperienced in political matters and machinations, was shocked that his promises would clash with the deep-set doctrine of institutions inside the State Department, Pentagon, military Central Command and CIA. This doctrine had sponsored political Islam and violent groups for years, well before Barack Obama was in office. It is a doctrine that for more than 25 years has trained Islamist cadres to take over power or overthrow regimes it viewed as dictatorships in the Arab region. These include Hosni Mubarak (Egypt), Zine Al-Abidine bin Ali (Tunisia), Bashar Al-Assad (Syria), Ali Abdallah Saleh (Yemen), and before them Saddam Hussein (Iraq), in coordination with ally Britain, which sponsors political Islam, contributed to its creation, feeds its ideology and sponsors and protects its political leaders. And perhaps Algeria, which had the same experience, in coordination with former colonial power France.

But it left monarchies such as Jordan, Morocco and Gulf states until a later stage although meanwhile they live under pressure and threat from this current which can, after receiving the necessary support, take control and make political gains that propel it to the forefront of the political stage, such as in Morocco and Kuwait. Meanwhile, peripheral countries such as Sudan, Mauritania, Somalia and Djibouti drown in conflicts, problems and political instability, and continue being weak, which prevents them from influencing or assisting in any problem.

This doctrine believes that the 57 states with a Muslim majority should be ruled by political Islamists that it promotes as moderates, capable of reining in extremism and violence. It promoted the Muslim Brotherhood as such, but ignored the fact that theorists such as Sayed Qotb and Abul-Alaa Al-Mawdoudi are the reference and legal authority of all armed groups of evil and violence that strike the security and stability of the entire world. It used cadres from these groups who were born and raised on Muslim Brotherhood ideology and thinkers in military operations in Afghanistan against the Soviet army.

This doctrine views political Islam as pragmatic and capable of achieving the interests of London, Washington, Paris, Berlin and Tel Aviv specifically. It can speak to the masses on Arab streets referencing religion, taking control and sedating the minds of people with promises of paradise amid a climate of despair in all Arab homes, and failure of all attempts at development and reform by other political currents. They use the slogan “Islam is the solution”; it can even solve the Palestinian problem and communicate with Israel – even though it propagates anti-Zionist state slogans. One example is when the deposed Mohamed Morsi mediated an agreement between Hamas and Israel, which for the first time in history described resistance against occupation as “hostile activities” that must end.

It is a doctrine that ingrains sectarian and religious divisions in the region and feeds the Sunni-Shia conflict, gives moral, political and legal justification and cover for the declaration of a Jewish state in return for Shia or Sunni Islamist states. To this end, there was a policy of maintaining appendages and tools that play specific fixed political, media and economic roles, which explains the functional role of Qatar, Turkey and Iran as countries; Hamas, Al-Qaeda, Islamic State, Al-Nusra Front and Hizbullah as armed groups; and Al-Jazeera, the BBC, Mekamileen and Al-Sharq as media outlets. They are all tentacles that are difficult to sever once discovered, similar to a spy who is caught and countries make deals to protect the spy, so no more agents are uncovered or change their minds about their spying assignments.

Trump clashed with his secretary of state and other cabinet members on Qatar’s boycott by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain, because he is certain that Qatar sponsors terrorism. But his officials view it as playing a functional role assigned by and in coordination with Washington to empower political Islam and regime change in the region through political and media appendages, and they should not be abandoned under any pressure by boycott countries. The only solution is to contain the crisis, soften positions and find any outcome that does not defeat Qatar or expose it so that other agents do not waver and undermine the US’s strategic structure, impact Israel’s security and harm US and Western interests in the region.

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