The confluence of the Israeli snap elections; the Arab, Muslim, and Gulf Cooperation Council summits in Mecca; and the upcoming “Bahrain Workshop” underscore the amateur nature of President Trump’s Middle East policy. The conundrum in which Washington finds itself illustrates the absence of any comprehensive thinking on the part of this administration toward Iran, the Arab world and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Whatever “Deal of the Century” that Jared Kushner plans to reveal at the Bahrain meeting at the end of June will be dead on arrival. Arab, Muslim and Palestinian leaders have already signaled their disapproval of the American approach.
Regional leaders are no longer sure of the Trump administration’s real stand on Iran. The Saudi and Emirati leaders, together with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have been clamoring for a war, presumably led by the Americans. According to recent statements, however, the administration is backtracking on the rush to war. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a recent press statement, “We are prepared to engage in a conversation with no pre-conditions.”
Netanyahu’s political future is the other wobbly pillar in Trump’s Middle East political edifice. Netanyahu’s failure to form a government and his legal troubles have weakened his position, throwing the whole process in doubt.
Miscalculating on Iran
President Trump’s policy toward Iran rests on three pillars: pulling out of the nuclear deal; imposing severe economic sanctions on Iran; and forming an Arab-Islamic-Israeli alliance against the “Persian menace.”