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Will ISIS’ threat Lead to a NATO’s Involvement in the Middle East?

By Alwan Amin Eddine* – for Beirut Center for Middle East Studies –

 

A “Framework Agreement” was signed between Iran and “5+1” Group. Some experts said it was an important achievement in all measures, especially after a “feud” that lasted for more than three decades between Washington and Tehran. This “Quantum Leap” will affect the future relations between both countries positively.

On the other side, this framework agreement was meant to be a “Negative Shock” regarding some Arab countries, particularly US Allies. According to them, such agreement might end the “vital continuous relations” started within the World War II, and will keep them face to face with Iran, who stands off against the international sanctions and is still “strong”. This issue will undermine the influence of these Arab countries in the region for the benefit of Tehran.

The U.S. Iranian rapprochement led Saudi Arabia to refuse to become a nn permanent member in the Security Council as a sign of “dissatisfaction”, and some “Saudi Conservators” called for a campaign against the American President Barak Obama.

In addition, Saudi – U.S. relationships passed in hard times starting with the Egyptian revolution in 2011, especially because of the US support to the Muslim Brotherhood through many visits to Cairo made by American Officials, (former US Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey D. Feltman, and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton).

As well, Washington had different point of view than that of Saudi Arabia regarding the dislocation of the Muslim Brotherhood from power, and the Presidential elections that led to General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi presidency. Also, Saudi Arabia pledged to assist Egypt in many sectors, especially monetary ones, if US stopped its financial aids to the Nile country.

These political steps, summoned a Saudi response represented by considering Muslim Brotherhoods as a terrorist organization.

Tension between Riyadh and Washington appeared in the Syrian crisis also, where US showed the inability to remove President Bashar Assad from power or force him to step down. Also, it refrained from providing the adequate support to the Syrian Opposition in order to achieve any impressive military progress that can improve the negotiation’s conditions during Geneva II.

In January 2012, President Barack Obama announced that the United States is no longer able to engage in any war around the world. Moreover, during his testimony before the Congress, on Sep 3,  2013, the US Secretary of State John Kerry said that President Obama did not call his country to engage in the Syrian conflict.

To avoid more deterioration in the mutual relations, US president visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and met with the former King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz. Some Saudi Officials had no intention to meet Obama, as Prince Bandar Bin Abd Al Aziz (the former Saudi Intelligent president)

As part of this visit, Obama proclaimed that there will not be a “bad deal” with Iran. In another word, the agreement is inevitable.

Moreover, Gulf’s countries are fully aware that US will become the first oil exporter in 2030, and this would led to a fully American military withdrawal from the Gulf. The phrase “Safe Exit, Go East”, representing the new strategy that will force the United States to the Pacific region in order to face Chinese economical growth.

So how “ISIS” existence will lead to an American safe exit and NATO entry?!

Since the former US President George W. Bush has declared war on terrorism(After Sep.11, 2011), and the United States has become the “leader” of any international coalition against terrorism by giving itself the right to intervene in any region without returning back to the International Community. Many experts saw that the presence of “ISIS” was due to an “under-table deal” made among some Arab hard-liners and the US neo-conservatives because their interests (i.e. oil companies’ owners, military industries’ owners) will be affected negatively if the US Administration insisted to fully withdrawal from the Gulf region. What makes this true, is that the current administration couldn’t stop funding “ISIS” organization in spite of the hard pressure that Obama is trying to impose on countries and individuals. There is an intention to “force” the US in military engagements to guarantee the US military presence.

On the other side, “Charlie Hebdo” attack came and was claimed by the al-Qaeda in Yemen, and previously by “ISIS”. The actions and precautions which were taken by European countries, after this attack, remind us with of the9/11attacks in the US, and how the citizens were urged to support the American military forces to fight terrorism wherever it exists, and chase terrorist even in their caves.

What the public knows about this terrorist act in France, that it came as a “reaction” against the backdrop of abusive images of the Prophet Muhammad. Some say that it is a “warning sign” to Paris, not to interfere in any military operation abroad.

France took a decision to send the only aircraft carrier “Charles de Gaulle” to the Gulf region to fight terrorism. As a reminder, France led the military campaign that brought down Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Libya in 2011.

In addition to these French steps, many British steps have been seen in the Middle East. One of them was establishing a branch of “St. Hearst” Military College in northern Jordan area, near the Jordanian King’s resident. The other was the re-innovation of Port Salman, which was agreed upon the bilateral agreement with Bahrain, in order to set up a military base with an estimated construction with cost of 15 million Pounds.

The British Defense Secretary, Michael Fallon said that this new base will lead the Royal Navy expansion than before. Second, it will allow the UK to send more ships to enhance the stability of the Gulf. Third, the British Navy will re-stationed again in the there for a long time.

As a conclusion, the United States has already determined to go “East”, without losing its allies in the region. So, the “European NATO” will replace its military forces in order to concentrate on facing the Chinese Growth east.

Moreover, some incidents show that United States is not in hurry to eliminate “ISIS” although it is considered as a terrorist organization. By making some numerical calculations, we can notice that the raids made by coalition, since last summer till now, did not exceed the raids targeting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, or Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, during “One Week”. This shows that United States has no intention to “finish the job”, especially that it is gaining indirect benefits through “ISIS” as a pressure on the Iraqi, Syrian and Turkey regimes. Also, it can leave this mission to its “Western Allies” as a “reward” where they can be paid more as long as “ISIS” is still active.

All these events explain why US doesn’t want any war involvement in the Middle East, even though an engagement with “ISIS” has really happened in Iraq, but the US Army denied. Also, Obama wants to reach a final agreement with Iran especially that he still has two years of his presidential term and needs to achieve a “Victory” as he failed to achieve remarkable progress in the national files.

That’s why Obama is warning the Congress, dominated by Republicans, that he will use the “VETO” against any decision that might carry new sanctions against Iran.

Hence, there are many questions we need their answers. Will the United States, in Obama’s era, be able to withdraw from the Persian Gulf, heading “East”, according to its new strategy?! Or an occurrence of a certain event might postpone this withdrawal and enforce it to stay?!

 

* Researcher in Beirut Center for Middle East studies, who specialized in International Relations

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