Via Gatestone Institute

When it comes to confronting the many challenges that face the modern Middle East, the United States has proved itself to be truly inspirational at leading during the last four years. Pictured from left to right: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan at the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords at the White House on September 15, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

When it comes to confronting the many challenges that face the modern Middle East, the United States has proved itself to be truly inspirational at leading during the last four years.

From achieving a remarkable breakthrough in the Israeli-Arab peace process to curbing the malign activities of Iran’s Islamic revolution in the region, the US has already succeeded in establishing a legacy that is the envy of many of its previous administrations.

A succession of American presidents, from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, have attempted — and failed — to break the endless cycle of violence that has come to characterise the region. It has only been the current distinctive style of US leadership that has made a decisive impact on the landscape of the Middle East.

The US has managed to achieve these profound changes, moreover, at a time when the omens were less than auspicious than when the current term began in 2017.

Back then, the region was in the midst of a bitter war against the fanatics of ISIS, who had seized control of large swathes of northern Syria and Iraq and were attempting to impose their barbaric form of government on the unhappy inhabitants of their so-called caliphate.

It was mainly thanks to decisive US action in fighting the jihadis that the American-led coalition was finally able to inflict a devastating defeat against the ISIS fanatics. Soon after the inauguration, the US dramatically revised the rules of engagement that had been in place under the prior administration, which had severely limited the ability of coalition forces to target ISIS terrorists. As a result, the US-led coalition was able to achieve its goal of destroying the caliphate and inflicting heavy losses on the ISIS fanatics, to the extent that today the caliphate has been reduced to rubble.

For good measure, the US even succeeded in eliminating Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mastermind of the ISIS reign of terror, while thousands more have either been killed or face being brought to justice, as is the case with the two British jihadis that belonged to an ISIS cell known as “The Beatles” who were earlier this month flown to the US to stand trial for their crimes, allegedly participating in the murders of the American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as the humanitarian aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller.

Indeed, it could be argued that the decisive action of the US has redefined the map of the Middle East, drawing a distinction between moderate, pro-Western Arab governments like the Gulf states that uphold the virtues of moderation and stability, and those, such as Iran, Turkey and Syria, that seek to sow discord and unrest.

Washington’s peace initiative with the Taliban is another area where the administration’s very different approach to Afghanistan’s long-running civil war has surprised its critics. While the negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government still have a long way to go before a comprehensive peace agreement is signed, the fact that Washington has been able to sign an accord with the Taliban, with the prospect of ending two decades of continuous conflict, is nevertheless a significant achievement, one that will enable Mr Trump to fulfil his pledge to reduce America’s military presence in the country.

Another area where decisive US action has had a dramatic impact on the region is its insistence on withdrawing from the flawed nuclear deal with Iran and reimposing sanctions against the mullahs. This has had a devastating impact on Tehran’s ability to meddle in the affairs of its Arab neighbours. With the Iranian economy crippled by sanctions, the regime no longer has the resources available to continue financing its terrorist infrastructure throughout the region at the same level it did previously.

The carefully-targeted assassination of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani in January also dealt a significant blow to Tehran’s ability to destabilise the region.

It is the remarkable breakthrough, though, that the current US administration has achieved in the Arab-Israeli peace process that will stand as the crowning achievement of the last four years.

As a result of the unstinting efforts made by Jared Kushner, the US president’s son-in-law, to break the impasse in the peace process, Israel is now moving towards establishing normal diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, while a number of other Arab countries — including Saudi Arabia — are giving serious consideration to following suit. In the latest diplomatic move aimed at improving relations in the region, Washington announced that Sudan is the next country that will be establishing normal ties with Israel.

Major diplomatic breakthroughs of this nature would have been considered unthinkable when the administration first came to power. By taking a robust approach to some of the region’s more intractable issues, however, such as relocating the American embassy to Jerusalem, the US has produced a number of profound changes in the regional landscape, the consequences of which are likely to be felt for many years to come.

The breakthrough in the peace process, moreover, has resulted in the region being clearly divided between moderate, peace-loving countries that are prepared to engage in the peace process, and rejectionist regimes, such as Turkey and Iran, that are only interested in causing further bloodshed.

It is these countries, as well as China, Russia, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela, that have most to fear in next month’s presidential election if a strong and successful America returns again.

Con Coughlin is the Telegraph‘s Defence and Foreign Affairs Editor and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.

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