With new developments in the Middle East the strategy of President Trump is becoming clearer. The Sunni states are to be given a free hand in dealing with the Shia states with no holds barred and the full support of the United States. In return the Sunni states curb terrorism on their own and extend greater recognition towards Israel.
The first steps seem to be bringing Sunni states that are friendly towards Shia Iran inline. As everyone knows Qatar and Iran have a joint project in the South Pars gas fields which is the biggest natural gas field in the world and a tremendous boom to the economy of both nations. Blockading Qatar for funding terrorists is just an excuse. They are now being asked to choose which relationships are more important to them. The Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Sunni states or Iran. Qatar will be deciding soon as there are some reports that there are only 72 hours left of water in the country.
After the Qatar situation is resolved and any other Shia sympathizing Sunni states are brought in line expect Egypt and Saudi Arabia to make significant concessions towards Israel. We may even see a normalization of relations between those countries and a united front against Iran. We may also see more Sunni funded terrorist groups target Shia targets as well.
Trump and Obama
There are quite a few differences between both leaders that make this strategy possible. First off President Trump believes that each country is sovereign inside its borders. If a country wants to commit human rights abuses within its borders then that’s between its government and the people inside it. As long as they don’t threaten the United States of course. Saudi Arabia is hardly alone in this regard. With President Duterte Trump has also shown he has little regard for local human rights issues. In practical terms this means that Saudi Arabia can do things that would cause problems under Obama. This allows them greater flexibility in keeping their allies in line and order in the region.
Second and this may seem strange to think about is that Trump respects Middle Eastern culture in a way that Obama did not. At the end of the day Obama tried to impose western values on his middle eastern allies. The countries involved may not have been ready for it or may not have wanted it at all. The middle east is a different place from America and may have different norms. A terrorist using a civilian as a human shield may be rare in America but fairly common in the Middle East. By forcing his allies to adhere to western morals Obama put them in a difficult position whereas President Trump has released them from it.
Last and most important we have competing philosophies. Obama believed in reaching out to his enemies at the expense of his allies whereas President Trump believes in strengthening his allies at the expense of his enemies. There is an old chinese saying ” do not trample over old friends in your rush to make new”. You are never going to please all the various factions in the middle east and its foolish to try. Doing what Obama did just gets everyone mad at you.