Negotiations and short-term deals are slightly cooling the Middle East hotspots of northeastern Syria and southern Yemen, ever since President Donald Trump broke off the US alliance with Syrian Kurds and refused to intervene over a suspected Iranian attack on Saudi oil facilities.
Trump isn’t bringing the troops home, but US involvement in endless wars certainly seems to be decreasing as the 2020 election starts to build up a head of steam. Libertarians need not drop their skepticism to appreciate this as a potential fortunate turnaround in foreign policy.
There are solidly good stories coming out of northeastern Syria and southern Yemen. Beginning in the port city of Aden, the de-facto capital of southern Yemen, a power-sharing deal is taking shape as Saudi Arabia has taken over until a neutral defense force made up of warring sides is established, according to Antiwar.com.
This temporary arrangement comes one month after an attack on Saudi oil facilities, which were blamed on Iran despite the Houthi rebels of Yemen claiming responsibility. The attack occurred days after the firing of Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton. Trump resisted the neocon pressure to retaliate militarily over this attack on Saudi property.
The Saudis are also considering wider proposals from the Houthi rebels who seek “comprehensive national reconciliation.”
Trump certainly can’t be accused of being too tough on Saudi Arabia, the country he hinted as being behind 9/11 while campaigning for the presidency. And yes, he’s sold them weapons, though not nearly the $112 billion worth under Obama. But it doesn’t appear the Saudis are willing to prolong this four-and-a-half year-long war and starvation blockade on Yemen for much longer.
Moving over to Syria, the withdrawal of US troops from parts of the northeast has been exaggerated by Trump. The troops are still in Syria, just out of Turkey’s way. Nevertheless, the effect of the breakoff from the Kurdish fighters is that the Kurds are free to deal with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which should have happened long ago.
In response to Turkey’s offensives in northeastern Syria, Trump announced sanctions on Turkish steel and an end to negotiations on a $100 billion trade agreement. He has also threatened further sanctions, while on the diplomatic front, Vice President Mike Pence is set to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan this weekend to discuss ceasefire conditions.
None of this is how Ron Paul would have done things, truly bringing the troops home in swift order. And Trump has always maintained that the US must have some presence in the Middle East to ensure against a reprisal of ISIS. But this is as good a position as any for the next non-interventionist presidential candidate to launch their campaign to finish the job.
Perhaps if the Libertarian Party can avoid running weak candidates like last time, there will be a great opportunity for a peace candidate in 2020. Or maybe the Democrats will get wise and undercut Trump’s non-interventionist support, but I doubt it.