AEI’s Danielle Pletka: The US needs an endgame in the Middle East – AEI’s Danielle Pletka: The US needs an endgame in the Middle East – AEI4th April 2019
In testimony today at 2:00 pm before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism, AEI Senior Vice President of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies Danielle Pletka seeks to outline an endgame for the US in the Middle East. Pletka urges the US to form a long-term strategy, rather than constantly addressing the most recent crisis. She explains: “Without an endgame, our policies are nothing more than this year’s tactics.”
Pletka explains the need for a long-term strategy:
- If our only interest is the immediate suppression of ISIS, our leaders should feel free to declare “Mission Accomplished” for the few weeks or months in which that mission will, briefly, have been done. But for those of us who recognize that ISIS is the fourth iteration of al Qaeda in Iraq, and it will be back in one form or another, the truth is that our mission is far from accomplished.
- Every single president of the United States since the end of World War II has been entangled in a crisis in the Middle East for a crisis he did not expect when he was elected. Are we going to continue to be surprised every decade? Are we going to keep pretending we’re winning when we’re not?
- The right question to ask is how future presidents of the United States can avoid being drawn into Middle Eastern conflicts. The United States too often waits for a problem to become a crisis, until those in the Middle East who are suffering seek solutions that have an impact on the United States. Problems that were smaller and manageable [then] become unmanageable challenges to U.S. interests and security.
Her regional recommendations include:
- Syria: support Syrian Democratic Forces and oppose the reinstatement of the Assad regime. Support a diplomatic process committed to creating a transitional government for Syria; oppose Russian intervention in Syria, and penalize all Iranian involvement in Syria. Keep a sufficient number of US troops in the country to ensure error groups are defeated and that the Assad regime does not return to the wholesale murder of its people.
- Saudi Arabia: demand the end to the imprisonment and targeting of political dissidents. Move towards a peace process in Yemen, as long as Iran ends all support for Houthi groups, which are on the way to becoming another Hezbollah.
- Iran: begin by answering the question which underpins the Trump administration’s extraordinarily successful sanctions campaign: what is the aim behind global sanctions? (beyond the possible renegtiation of the JCPOA).
- Salafi-jihadi groups, including ISIS, al Qaeda and others: understand that these groups remain resilient, have embraced new tactics and are aggressively coopting new supporters and establishing new beachheads in Africa, South and Southeast Asia.
To read the full testimony: On Assessing US Policy Priorities in the Middle East