Middle East Stalement Might be the Best We Can Do

The United States will likely extend the May 1 deadline for pulling all its troops from Afghanistan. A bipartisan report to Congress said on Wednesday recommends making force cuts contingent on progress in peace talks as well as by the Taliban in reducing violence and containing al Qaeda.

The report claims withdrawing all U.S. troops could lead to civil war, destabilizing the region and reviving the al Qaeda threat.

US Troop levels were officially reduced to 2500 in Afghanistan at the end of the last administration.

Accounting tricks had been used to create the appearance of a smaller force and sidestep administration constraints. Jim Jeffrey, the former special envoy for Syria and the fight against the Islamic State, admitted that he deceived Trump about the real number of U.S. soldiers in Syria to maintain a greater force than the White House wanted. “We were always playing shell games to not make clear to our leadership how many troops we had there.”

Retiring diplomat Jim Jeffrey is recommending that the incoming Biden administration stick with Trump’s foreign policy in the Middle East. He praises the Trumps support of a successful “realpolitik” approach to the region. He admits his team routinely misled senior leaders about troop levels in Syria. Jeffrey says that Trump’s transactional approach to the Middle East has yielded a more stable region than the policies of Obama or Bush jr.

Jeffrey says US arab allies and Israel are happy with the current stalement.

There have been fears of the return of ISIS since 2017. Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia are defined as the Magreb. Those countries possess two unwanted claims to fame: as a significant pool of ISIS foreign fighters and, in the case of Libya, as the site of ISIS’ first successful territorial conquest outside of Iraq and Syria.

From its inception in 2013, the Islamic State (ISIS) has both recruited widely from the Maghreb and sought to build a presence there in multiple ways, from the creation of recruitment and operational cells to seizing and governing territory.

Since the outbreak of the Syrian uprising in 2011, tens of thousands of individuals have traveled to join rebel groups in Syria. About 36,500 ended up joining the Islamic State (ISIS) and other jihadist groups once they imposed themselves as major actors in the conflict, particularly after 2013. Most of these foreign fighters are from the Arab world. about 8,000 are from the four countries of the Maghreb (compared to 6,600 from Western countries). Tunisia has produced the highest ratio of foreign fighters per capita (6,000 individuals or 545 per million inhabitants.

SOURCES- Crisis Group, Foreign Policy Research Institute, Defence One, Military Times, Reuters
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com