At the end of his first mandate as POTUS  Donald Trump is shifting gears in the foreign policy of the USA, playing hardball on four different tables.
The news about a new round of official peace talks between Taliban, the Afghan national government and US envoys are opening the door for some serious considerations about the future in one of the most troubled areas of the world. The Trump administration wants to get out of the country, without the American presence all the allies will withdraw as well, leaving the Afghan government on its own. By all means, Afghan armed forces aren’t ready to stand against the Taliban, nor they could be able to take back control from the warlords in the north.
A few days ago I was thinking about the worst case situation; a full reverse to 2001, with Taliban in control of most part of the country, with ISIS ready to set up shop in Kabul and Pakistan in the role of the unofficial nuclear-powered protector. By all means, it will be a nightmare. Then I made up my mind, realizing that a significant number of changes had occurred in the last 18 years.
One of the most recurrent topics in the action movies, back in the ‘70s, was the fighting sequence in a hall of mirrors. Hero and villain chasing each other in a long series of hit-and-miss, until the dramatic end. It’s a good metaphor for what’s going on in the Middle East. A pity that there are a lot of players inside the mirrored maze and I can’t see any hero ready to save the day.
As predicted, things are getting hairy all over again in Syria, a place where too many conflicts are going on. The casus belli this time is the little town of Manbij, in the northern part of the country. Actually is controlled by Kurds, with logistic support from the US. Russians and Americans found themselves together against the will of the Turkish government to seize the town, a move that greatly enraged the leadership of this regional power. Check here the story, from Stars and Stripes.
Words are important, so choosing the right word for the current situation in Syria is a way to anticipate my position. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a simple definition of deadlock is:
a situation in which an agreement cannot be made : a situation in which ending a disagreement is impossible because neither side will give up something that it wants.
Present days Syria’s crisis is a good start to think about how Putin’s Russia look at the whole Middle East in short and middle terms (from 1 to 5 years). After the shake down of USSR in 1991 russian presence in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf has been close to be wiped out. No political sphere of influence was viable for a nation in rubble, not to mention the overwhelming military power of the USA that was already on the brink to squash Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq.
All right, we’re on the eve of a bombing campaign against Syria. Everybody knows it and all of us already got the commemorative T-shirt (My brother bombed Syria and all I’ve got it’s this lousy T-shirt?). What we have to remember is that they’re waiting for an opportunity to strike back.