Trump’s Mid­dle East doc­trine

A key ob­jec­tive is the iso­la­tion of Iran

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By James A. Lyons James A. Lyons, a re­tired U.S. Navy ad­mi­ral, was com­man­der in chief of the U.S. Pa­cific Fleet and se­nior U.S. mil­i­tary rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the United Na­tions.

Con­crete steps must be taken to stop funds from go­ing to rad­i­cal mosques and front groups that pro­mote ter­ror­ism. Tar­get­ing funds be­ing sent to var­i­ous ter­ror­ists groups.

Pres­i­dent Trump’s his­toric visit last month to Saudi Ara­bia, where he met with the heads of more than 50 mostly Sunni heads of state, dra­mat­i­cally marked the end of eight years of Barack Obama’s ap­pease­ment of Iran. It sig­naled to all the Mus­lim lead­ers that the United States as the “strong horse” is back. There was no doubt in any of the Mus­lim lead­ers’ minds that Mr. Trump is a man of ac­tion and a leader who will keep his word.

Mr. Trump’s goal of es­tab­lish­ing a coali­tion of na­tions that share the ob­jec­tive of de­feat­ing ter­ror­ist groups and pro­vid­ing for a sta­ble and hopeful fu­ture made it clear that the as­sem­bled na­tions can­not be in­dif­fer­ent to the pres­ence of evil. That evil is rep­re­sented not only by the Is­lamic State (ISIS), al Qaeda et al., but also by Iran, the rec­og­nized world leader of state-spon­sored ter­ror­ism. In that sense, one of the key ob­jec­tives of the sum­mit was to iso­late Iran, a goal em­braced by the coali­tion, as well as their shared dis­dain for the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s atro­cious failed nu­clear agree­ment with Iran.

Mr. Trump also made it clear that this coali­tion of na­tions must adopt a pol­icy of “sov­er­eign re­spon­si­bil­ity,” which means that they can­not wait for Amer­i­can power to de­feat the en­emy for them. They must be di­rectly in­volved, with our as­sis­tance.

Nonethe­less, the Trump doc­trine must be driven by our core vi­tal in­ter­ests, which are:

• Elim­i­nat­ing ISIS as a func­tion­ing en­tity.

• Pre­vent­ing Iran from achiev­ing a nu­clear weapon ca­pa­bil­ity.

• Pre­vent­ing Ira­nian hege­mony through­out the Mid­dle East.

• Re­mov­ing the Ira­nian theoc­racy from power.

• Re-es­tab­lish­ing and strength­en­ing our re­la­tions with our tra­di­tional al­lies.

• En­sur­ing the sur­vival of Is­rael. • Es­tab­lish­ing a sov­er­eign Kur­dis­tan. • Main­tain­ing free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion through­out the Per­sian Gulf and Red Sea, in­clud­ing strate­gic choke points, e.g., the Suez Canal, the Bab el-Man­deb Strait and the Strait of Hor­muz.

The es­tab­lish­ment of a Global Ter­ror­ism Cen­ter for Com­bat­ing Ex­trem­ism in Riyadh was a man­i­fes­ta­tion of the shared ob­jec­tive of de­feat­ing ter­ror­ist groups and iso­lat­ing Iran, but its ef­fec­tive­ness will de­pend on re­sults. The same can be said for the es­tab­lish­ment of the Ter­ror­ist Fi­nanc­ing Tar­get­ing Cen­ter, cochaired by the United States and Saudi Ara­bia, as well as the United States-United Arab Emi­rates Cen­ter to Counter the On­line Spread of Hate. It was clear to all the at­ten­dees that a peace­ful, sta­ble fu­ture can only be achieved by de­feat­ing the ide­ol­ogy that drives ter­ror­ism. Car­ry­ing this out will re­quire some very fun­da­men­tal and painful changes. For ex­am­ple, mosques and imams that preach hate and urge all Mus­lims to con­duct vi­o­lent ji­had should be closed and the imams re­moved.

Con­crete steps must be taken to stop funds from go­ing to rad­i­cal mosques and front groups that pro­mote ter­ror­ism. Tar­get­ing funds be­ing sent to var­i­ous ter­ror­ists groups, e.g., ISIS and al Qaeda, must re­ceive im­me­di­ate pri­or­ity. The source of these funds, be it from in­di­vid­u­als or states like Qatar, must be iden­ti­fied and in­ter­dicted.

Qatar has been a par­tic­u­lar prob­lem be­cause of its sup­port of the Mus­lim Brother­hood and its cozy re­la­tion­ship with Iran. This came to a head on June 5, when Saudi Ara­bia broke diplo­matic and some com­mer­cial re­la­tions with Qatar over its ter­ror­ist fi­nanc­ing and its links to the Mus­lim Brother­hood, ISIS, Ha­mas and the Houthi rebels in Ye­men. Qatar’s re­la­tion­ship with Iran was a de­ci­sive fac­tor in caus­ing the United Arab Emi­rates, Egypt and Bahrain to quickly join with Saudi Ara­bia in break­ing re­la­tions. Most land, sea and air routes to Qatar have been closed. Qatar is an isth­mus whose only land route is through Saudi Ara­bia by which it re­ceives 40 per­cent of its food. This is a ma­jor prob­lem for Qatar, de­spite Turkey’s of­fer of food and water de­liv­ered by sea.

An­other is­sue that must be ad­dressed is the U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand’s for­ward air­base in Qatar, which has been an es­sen­tial el­e­ment of our air cam­paign in the re­gion. As of to­day, there has been no im­pact on U.S. air op­er­a­tions, but con­tin­gency plans should be made ready for an al­ter­na­tive air­base if re­gional re­la­tion­ships fur­ther de­te­ri­o­rate.

An un­der­ly­ing el­e­ment of the Trump doc­trine that can­not be over­stated is recog­ni­tion that 65 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion of the Mid­dle East is un­der the age of 30, and that those youths must be pro­vided with op­por­tu­ni­ties for a sat­is­fy­ing life as an at­trac­tive op­tion to the lure of ter­ror­ist groups. While this is a wor­thy ob­jec­tive, Mus­lims don’t com­mit to ji­had be­cause they don’t have jobs. They com­mit to ji­had be­cause they are de­vout Mus­lims, many with univer­sity de­grees. The only way they can be dis­suaded from ji­had is to see a crush­ing de­feat of ji­hadis on the bat­tle­field. Once they un­der­stand they can­not win, they are ob­li­gated by their own doc­trine to back off.

Saudi Prince Mo­ham­mad bin Sal­man is tak­ing the lead for eco­nomic and cul­tural re­form in Saudi Ara­bia, and other mem­bers of the coali­tion should fol­low. Nev­er­the­less, the in­dis­pens­able prin­ci­ple for achiev­ing the ob­jec­tives of the Riyadh sum­mit is the iso­la­tion of Iran, the prime mover of in­sta­bil­ity through­out the re­gion. As a start, sanc­tions on the mul­lahs’ bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­grams must be im­posed. Fur­ther, un­til the un­signed nu­clear weapons deal with Iran is for­mally can­celed, real in­spec­tions by the U.N. In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency must be con­ducted on all the sites in their nu­clear weapon in­fra­struc­ture.

Fi­nally, an ag­gres­sive plan must be de­vel­oped with the ob­jec­tive of re­mov­ing the regime of Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei from power. That is the first prin­ci­ple of any plan to re­turn sta­bil­ity and peace to the Mid­dle East.

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