Based on Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric some of his priorities in the Middle East – defeating ISIL and ensuring Israel’s security – will be no different than President Obama’s. Where his policies may differ will be in his stated desires to accommodate Russian interests in Syria while at the same time scrapping the Iran nuclear agreement. Taken individually, both policy shifts are highly problematic. But combined, they are impossible to successfully execute and likely catastrophic.
Already the battle lines are being drawn inside a future Trump administration with two men who are reportedly at the top of Trump’s list for secretary of state coming out in very different places. Rudy Giuliani argued recently that given the focus on terrorism and ISIL, scrapping the Iran deal was a lesser priority. John Bolton meanwhile penned an op-ed calling on Trump to abrogate the deal on his first days in office.
In a recent interview he gave to The Wall Street Journal, Trump indicated he would accommodate Putin by cutting off aid to the armed Syrian opposition paving the way for Russia, its Syrian client, and Iran to finish off the Syrian opposition in Aleppo and the rest of northwest Syria. According to Trump, in exchange for this change in policy, the United States would receive greater cooperation from Russia and the Assad regime to destroy ISIL in eastern Syria and western Iraq.
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