Without achievement: Go back home

September 28, 2020 - 21:33

TEHRAN – Facing a fateful election with a troubled campaign, the Trump administration deepened the mistrust in the region while also endangering U.S. interests in West Asia.

With the November election only a few weeks away, President Trump and his foreign policy team seek to avoid further endangering U.S. interests in the region. They now threaten to launch merciless attacks on some Iraqi resistance groups while making preparations to close the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

In a telephone conversation with Iraqi President Barham Salih, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed the U.S. deep resentment over the attacks on U.S. interests in Iraq, warning that the U.S. was ready to close the U.S embassy in Baghdad and take action against Iraqi resistance groups, according to the Iraqi news website Iraqi24.

Citing well-placed sources, the website quoted Pompeo as telling Salih that “The decision to close the embassy in Baghdad is in President Trump’s hands and is ready… If our forces withdraw and the embassy is closed in this way, we will eradicate everyone who is proven to be involved in these acts.”

U.S. forces in Iraq have come under pressure from Iraqi popular resistance groups working to expel the U.S. occupying forces from their country. These groups say the U.S. embassy is not a diplomatic facility. Instead, it is a military stronghold providing logistic support for the American forces.

“The American embassy is a group of occupiers who use a covert den for their crimes. Its name is an embassy,” Akram al-Kabi, the head of Alnujaba group, said in a statement.

The U.S. says the main goal of its forces in Iraq is to fight Daesh and train Iraqi forces. But the Iraqis say the U.S. didn’t help Iraq in the face of the Daesh terrorist group.

“Daesh has come [to Iraq] because they [Americans] stopped all types of military support to Iraq and undercut the foundation of the Iraqi army,” Nouri al-Maliki, the former Iraqi prime minister, said in June.

Al-Maliki, whose during his tenure Daesh occupied large swaths of Iraq, also said, “Washington told the Iraqi delegation; as long as al-Maliki is in power, they will not give weapons to Baghdad to fight Daesh. This is all while Iran and Russia have opened their arms depots to Baghdad in support of the Iraqi army and the Popular Mobilization Forces.”

The former prime minister pointed out that the Americans didn’t want Iraq to win the fight against Daesh, adding that when the Iraqi government decided to expel all American forces from Iraq, the U.S. welcomed the efforts to destabilize Iraq.

Now that the Iraqis are once again calling for the expulsion of American forces, the White House may pursue a similar policy through closing its embassy in Iraq and taking actions to destabilize the country.

The PMF leaders say the U.S. wants to destabilize Iraq rather than helping it.

“The PMF has worked to stabilize Iraq and has foiled all U.S. plots, which aims to destabilize Iraq and create troubles and crises at various levels,” Kamal al-Hasnawi, a PMF leader, told Shafaq news agency.

Whether the U.S. will close its embassy in Iraq and take action against the country remains an open question.  But the U.S. seems to be intent on shutting or at least curtailing its diplomatic presence in Iraq. The Arabic-Language al-Mayadeen news network reported Sunday the U.S. decision to close its embassy in Baghdad has been taken.

The embassy drama comes at a time when the U.S. is still spending millions of taxpayer dollars on military operations in Iraq. And yet is unable to win the heart of the Iraqi people who want to see the U.S. withdraw its forces from Iraq and end the occupation of their country.

The controversy over the U.S. embassy in Baghdad also highlights Trump’s failures in ending what he has campaigned on since the 2016 presidential election: ending the U.S. endless wars.

Before and after the 2016 election, Trump promised to end “the era of endless wars,” because it was not the job of the U.S. army “to solve ancient conflicts in faraway lands that many people have not even heard of.”

He also admittedly said that the U.S. has squandered more than $7 trillion on conflicts in the Western Asia region while his administration had difficulty building infrastructures inside the U.S.

“As of a couple of months ago, we have spent $7 trillion in the Middle East [West Asia]. Seven trillion dollars. What a mistake. But it is what is. We're trying to build roads and bridges and fix bridges that are falling down, and we have a hard time getting the money. It's crazy. Think about it: As of a couple of months ago, $7 trillion in the Middle East and the Middle East is far worse now than it was 17 years ago when they went in and not so intelligently, I have to say, went in. I'm being nice. So, it is a very sad thing,” Trump said in 2018.

Trump made efforts to end the U.S. costly wars in the region, but he failed. In January 2019, Trump ordered a withdrawal of American forces from northern Syria, a decision that stoked fears among foreign policy circles in Washington over ceding the control of the area to the Syrian government and Russia. The decision faced firm opposition from officials inside the Trump administration, most notably form then-National Security Advisor John Bolton, who put brakes on Trump's withdrawal from Syria. Many analysts believe that Bolton stopped the abrupt withdrawal.

Bolton himself didn’t hesitate to express his opposition to his boss's decision. In a bid to assure U.S. allies in the region, Bolton traveled to Israel and Turkey. During his visit to Israel, he said certain “objectives” must be achieved before a pullout could take place. He also said the withdrawal could put U.S. Kurdish allies in Syria in danger.

“It’s also very important that as we discuss with members of the coalition, [and] other countries that have an interest, like Israel and Turkey, that we expect that those who have fought with us in Syria . . . particularly the Kurds,” not be put in “jeopardy” by the withdrawal, said Bolton.

Bolton succeeded in nullifying Trump’s decision. In October 2019, Trump once again ordered another withdrawal of American forces from Syria, a few weeks before he fired Bolton. But this time Trump also failed to end his country’s participation in the Syrian war. Trump pursued a similar policy toward Afghanistan. While he campaigned on ending U.S. endless wars in West Asia, he failed to secure a face-saving withdrawal of U.S. troops from the U.S. longest war – the Afghanistan war. Of course, the U.S.-Taliban peace negotiations are still underway, but they are far from securing a peace deal in the foreseeable future, at least until the U.S. November election.

Since 2016, Trump has been promising ordinary Americans that he will bring home the Americans. He kept his promise and brought Americans home, but not soldiers rather diplomats. While U.S. servicemen are coming under attack in Iraq and Afghanistan and dying in endless wars, the Trump administration is busy devising plans to evacuate diplomats, leaving soldiers in despair. This may well be the reason behind a significant rise in military suicides among U.S. servicemen.

Military suicides have increased by as much as 20% this year compared to the same period in 2019, and some incidents of violent behavior have spiked as service members struggle under COVID-19, war-zone deployments, national disasters, and civil unrest, according to an Associated Press report.

Senior U.S. Army leaders told the Associated Press that they’ve seen about a 30% jump in active duty suicides so far this year and that they are looking at shortening combat deployments.

The U.S. has spent billions of dollars over the past few decades on wars in the Western Asia region without securing its long-term interests. Trump, who publicly railed against these wars, has failed to stop them. Trump may lose the November election and hand over the White House keys to his Democratic rival Joe Biden. But will Biden, who played a major role in starting many of U.S. wars, be able to end these wars? There is a little doubt that Biden will move forward with U.S. warmongering policies. The U.S. wars may never come to an end, but its influence and dominance may have already started to decline.

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