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America No Longer Leading the World

November 27, 2017
Plain English Version

President Vladimir Putin at a news conference with Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Hassan Rouhani of Iran, in Sochi, Russia, November 22. Kayhan Ozer/Turkish Presidential Palace/Handout/Reuters

Russia, Turkey, and Iran met in Sochi, Russia to plan the future of Syria and the Middle East. The United States was not invited.

It is not that the U.S. is not involved in the Middle East. For example, the U.S. is helping to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. It is working with everybody: Iraqi Kurds, Iraqi military, Russian armed forces, Turkish military, Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and Iranian-backed Hezbollah forces. The effort is on the verge of success.

So why was the U.S. not invited to the meeting in Russia? Well, it started with President Barak Obama. He said there was a “red line” about the use of chemical weapons by Syria. Syria used chemical weapons on its citizens. But Obama did not want to involve American troops. Russia volunteered to see to it that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria would get rid of the chemicals. Obama agreed.

America was supporting Syrian rebel forces trying to topple Assad. But Russia was backing Assad. Assad is winning.

That was the end of American influence in the Syrian civil war. Syria's six-year civil war killed hundreds of thousands of people. Millions fled. It was the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

It is hard to follow alliances in the Middle East. All the countries want ISIS defeated. That is where the agreement ends.

Observers say that Russia, Turkey, and Iran want to carve up the Middle East. Can they do so in the same way as the allies carved up the Middle East after World War I?

Enter Saudi Arabia. The Saudi’s have a new young leader, Mohammad bin Salman. He declared the leader of Iran a “new Hitler.” He is starting a battle with Iran for power and influence in the region. It is also a battle between Sunni Muslims from Saudi Arabia and Shiite Muslims from Iran.

To be clear, the U.S. is an ally of the Saudi’s and an enemy of Iran.

Enter Lebanon. Lebanon is a small country bordering Syria and Israel. It is also home to the Iran-backed Hezbollah military.

The Prime Minister of Lebanon says that Hezbollah is running the country. He resigned his post. Then he delayed the resignation. He said he would explain it all. Who knows what will happen next?

It is all about power. And what does power want next? It wants profits. China is already saying it would like to be part of the rebuilding of the region.

Where is the United States? After ISIS, there is not much for the U.S. to do. It will not fight to defeat Assad. There is no sign that it wants to be part of the future of Syria. Or even that it wants to spend its resources in rebuilding Iraq.

You can blame Obama. You can blame Trump. The U.S. role in the world is waning.

Source: The New York Times November 22, 2017


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