Time for uncertainty and spontaneous decision-making is coming to an end. Trump’s Twitter handle will not be impacting world politics in the coming days. As the white house welcomes its new president, it is important to analyze what its previous resident achieved during his tenure. The most important area to analyze would be the Middle East. Trump had made four promises in the election campaigns regarding the Middle East in 2016. These promises were to shift the Israel embassy to Jerusalem, scrap the deal with Iran, dismantle ISIS, and to make peace in the Middle East. He has a lot of successes and some unsuccessful efforts in the Middle East.
Trump had given unprecedented attention to the Middle East. He has successfully shifted the Israel embassy to Jerusalem and unilaterally pulled out of a deal with Iran. However, he has been unsuccessful in destroying ISIS completely, and the process of making peace in the Middle East is still ongoing during his last days in office.
The Middle East is the most volatile region in the world. The Arabs have shared history and historical tribal rivalries. The region is marred with hostilities, struggle power dominance, and has various hotspots. Two issues remain prominent in order to bring peace in the desert. Saudi Arabia and its allies’ crisis with Qatar. This crisis has shaken the entire Muslim world and divided it into two factions: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain, and the other is Qatar, Turkey, and Iran. Trump has tried to mediate and to bring their relationship to normal. This is a complex task, and there are wheels within wheels. Trump administration has been doing its last efforts to unite its allies in the Middle East against Iran through the Saudi-Qatar deal. But the ill-tempered friends in the region are making it difficult. At least four members of the administration have visited the region recently to bring a thaw between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. They have taken seats at the negotiation table but the mending of ties seems like a distant dream. They only agreed to tone down their media campaigns against each other. Trade and travel embargo by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt have not been lifted yet. At the heart of the conflict lies Qatar’s relationship with Iran and its support to Al Jazeera which is alleged to propagate the Muslim Brotherhood narrative. Cutting off ties with Iran and shutting down said news channel was among thirteen demands laid down by Saudi Arabia before Qatar. Moreover, the UAE and Qatar support opposing factions in several conflicts. Some analyst believes that Qatar’s relationship with Tehran and Washington is of due importance. It can be used a moderator between two. But Qatar is not going to shun its relationship with Iran. It is Iran that has provided Qatar a breathing space during the blockade. In these circumstances, Trump’s efforts to normalize their relationship might not bring fruit. He has to leave the white house with this unfinished task.
The second step to bring and keep peace in the Middle and to strengthen the front against Iran was to make the Arabs friends with Israel. Trump administration is speeding up its campaigns for Israel in the Middle East. Trump surrendered the US traditional ‘honest broker’ approach to the ‘Israel first’ approach. With this approach and replacing politics with business, Trump has managed to give momentum to the Arabs acceptance of Israel. In the span of a year, four Middle Eastern states have normalized their relationship with Israel. The peace deals among Israel and Arabs may continue in the Biden era. It is the only point of convergence between Trump and Biden. America is using its influence and leverage to get the Arabs to accept the friendship of Israel. This outsourcing of American influence for sake of Israel will continue even after Trump.
The third step to bring peace in the Middle East is to cease Iran’s so-called adventurism. Trump has pulled out of the deal but he doesn’t want the new president to return to the deal. One possible way to obstruct him is to pick a conflict with Iran and ignite a fire that can not be extinguished by the incoming president. There have been speculations that the killing of Iran’s nuclear scientist has been an effort to achieve this goal. Further, it is assumed by many that the attack was by Israel. If Trump becomes successful in raising a conflict with Iran his name might remain in power corridors as a President who went all the way to fulfill his agenda. Also, the newfound friendship between Israel and the two most powerful gulf states UAE and Saudi Arabia will be keeping a check on Biden to restart the diplomacy with Iran on the nuclear issue. In this, Trump’s agenda will remain alive.
Similarly, the ongoing negotiations between Lebanon and Israel on maritime boundary disputes have come to halt. This is set to the US efforts that have brought them to talks after years of diplomatic efforts. This adds to an unfinished task of Trump’s administration.
With the few weeks left in the inauguration of the new president, the Middle Eastern states and monarchies are looking forward to the new US approach towards the region. It is true that Trump is active in the region and collecting maximum gains but it can also not be denied the rulers of the region are bidding him farewell. With all aforementioned last-minute attempts, he is vying to leave a legacy for himself as a president. He has been able to bring quarreling parties of the gulf region to the negotiation table and fetch some friendships in the Middle East but he might lose his race against time to make peace in the Middle East. Fews precarious days of transition lie ahead.