But without further action, it will have been for naught; what must come next is a new regional strategy for the U.S. that is very different from the one adopted by President Obama — one that backs up diplomatic coalition-building with U.S. military strength.
Israel and Saudi Arabia, the region’s most powerful Sunni state, have been drawing closer for the past decade, united by their shared interest in counteracting Iranian regional aggression, as have the other majority-Sunni Gulf states. Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and Oman could also become strong strategic partners in a U.S.-led coalition designed to thwart Iran’s ongoing efforts to trigger a regional Shia uprising from Syria and/or Yemen. This new alliance would have two prongs, and two aims.
Fortunately, Assad’s renewed use of chemical weapons put Vladimir Putin at a disadvantage, since Russia almost certainly knew of the chemical strike, and may even have facilitated it. The Kremlin certainly lied when it assured the world that the regime’s stockpile of chemical weapons had been dealt with.
The final goal of Trump’s strategy in the Middle East has to be convincing Putin that his support for and collaboration with Iran is a liability rather than an asset, and that siding with the emerging U.S.–Sunni–Israeli coalition is the best way for Russia to demonstrate a good-faith commitment to fighting terrorism and playing a constructive role in the region.
Our natural allies in the region have been clamoring for help from Washington for years; Donald Trump now has the opportunity to provide it.