Trump’s last gifts for Israel and Implications for the Region

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U.S. President Trump welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - HP1EE351C8I7G

US Presidential election is an event that not indirectly but directly defines how the world of politics is going to be shaped for the next few years. Every new US President comes into the office with his policies being implemented by his team. 2020 was the year of the Pandemic that changed every second concept & phenomenon of the world, from economy to trade & from trade to lifestyle. But the most significant area was world politics, which took dramatic turns during the pandemic. China emerged as a global power while the US failed to even take care of the pandemic at home. This was a major factor in the list of reasons why Trump lost the US Presidential elections. Usually, before the transition to the President-elect, the US administration is considered as sitting Duck. This is because it avoids taking any key decision both on domestic & foreign affairs especially those having long-term implications. But this is not the case this time, Trump administration is very active & taking many key strategic decisions in these last few days. Trump administration recently came up with two very significant decisions. First was US sectary of State Mike Pompeo accusing Iran of providing Safe heavens to Al-Qaeda terrorists, even called it as “New home of Al-Qaeda”. The second was Pompeo announcement on Jan 10 that the Trump Administration is going to designate Iran backed Yemen’s Houthi rebels as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization”. These two decisions are going to have implications not just for Iran but for the whole region including Pakistan.

Israel on the move

These developments are not unexpected, Israel was preparing to hit Iranian assets both within & outside Iran. Recently IDF launched Airstrikes against Iranian proxies in Syria, multiple locations were targeted. Before these strikes in November 2020- “Mossad” allegedly assassinated Iranian Nuclear scientist Dr. Mohsen Fakhri Zadeh in Tehran. After Israel, the Trump administration stepping up Anti-Iran rhetoric is a serious concern for Iran. Now after this in the coming weeks Israel will continue its attacks against Iran & Iranian assets in the region. By accusing Iran of backing Terrorism US is simply paving the way for Israeli military actions inside Iran. Or in the other words, legal cover for Israeli so-called “Preemptive Strikes”. But this also Bounds the coming US administration not to oppose Israel’s action inside Iran due to public pressure after this allegation by Pompeo. It is a known fact that even in the past Neocons were driving Trump to war with Iran but failed but this time this might work. As per the UN officials, this branding of Houthis as “Terrorists” will give rise to a serious humanitarian crisis in Yemen. But apart from that by Designating Houthis as terrorists, U.S has legalized future IDF actions in Yemen which are going to be in collaboration with UAE. In fact, as per news reports of French media from last year (Aug 2020) ‘Israel & UAE were looking forward to establishing an intelligence-gathering base on Socotra’- a Yemeni island in a strategic area that overlooks the Bab-al-Mandad Strait. This Island is located at a very strategic location, this base will help in gathering intel from the Gulf of Eden to the Horn of Africa. Not only that this is an important trade route, connecting the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden & Arabian Sea. This is evident that after this development Israel is soon opening a ‘new front’ in Yemen under the umbrella of Arab Collation force.

Socotra Island Strategic Importance
Talking about the Israeli base in Socotra, this would pose a serious security threat to other countries in the region as well including Pakistan. With the help of this base, Israel can offer U.S & India, serious intelligence about Pakistan & Chinese activities in the region. This can include monitoring Pakistan’s naval movements, air traffic, trade activities, particularly at Gwadar port. Apart from that Indo-Israel strategic partnership is already considered a serious threat in Islamabad, but this new build base is going to be another chapter in the book of “Intelligence Sharing” between the two countries. The addition of UAE in this can form a triangle, which is never good for both Pakistan & Iran’s strategic interests in the region. This is the time for Pakistan to review its approach & work on plans to expand influence in the Western Indian ocean to safeguard Pakistan’s interests in the region either with the help of Iran or without Iran. These changing regional & Geopolitical dynamics can help Pakistan explore new areas concerning Blue diplomacy.

Author: Talha Ahmad (Editor in Chief PSF)

About Author: Talha Ahmad is a Freelance Journalist. He is an independent Geo-Political Analyst, commentator, and keen observer of International relations. Talha Ahmad’s opinions have been featured in different News-websites like Daily times, Pakistan Today, Global Village Space, Morning Mail. He can be reached on Twitter @talhahamad967.

Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of the Pakistan Strategic Forum.

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