US suffers new setback in Middle East

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/8/18 0:23:40

The Russian defense ministry announced Tuesday that Russian long-range Tu-22M3 bombers had taken off from Iran's Hamadan airfield and delivered their first airstrikes against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria. The news has caused a sensation in the Western world.

This is the first time that Russia has bombed the IS by using an Iranian air base. More importantly, this is the first time that Iran has opened up a military base for another country.

Even in the pro-US Pahlavi Dynasty, US fighters had never had the chance to land on an Iranian military base. Russia has won the unprecedented favor of Iran.

The Russia-Iran tie-up has obviously upset the US, which claims that Russia violated UN resolution 2231 about sanctioning Iran. The resolution forbids any country transferring, selling or providing fighters to Iran. The lousy accusation was soon rebutted by Moscow.

More sadly for Washington, Iraq also consented to the passing-through of Russian military aircraft under some symbolic limits.

Words from Moscow also implied that Turkey is mulling opening its military bases to Russian military aircraft. If confirmed, Turkey will be branded as a heretic by the US within NATO.

There are a lot of fluctuations in the Middle East that could never have been anticipated. Last November, Turkey and Russia were on the brink of collision because Turkey shot down a Russian fighter, but this September, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was greeted by his Russian counterpart with a red carpet. Turkey and Iran are traditional powerhouses in the region, and their embrace with Russia will dramatically change the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East. The potential Russia-Turkey-Iran coalition, plus Syria, will be a nightmare for Washington.

All these new ups and downs in the Middle East come amid Washington's decreasing investment in the region. This is the first round of repercussions as it has rebalanced to the Asia-Pacific.

Washington is not reliable because as its reliance on oil resources in the Middle East declines, it intends to withdraw from the awful mess, regardless of its allies' interests. This has become many Middle East countries' new understanding of the US. Washington's foundation in the region has been weakened, and Russia has found its niche market in a flexible fashion even though it cannot engage with the US in an all-out confrontation.

If what is happening in the Middle East continues, the US has no choice but to pivot to the region again. Washington cannot risk losing the Middle East for the sake of its national security, because it is the source of the Islamic anti-Americanism.

The old pattern and order is gone in the Middle East, where the US has lost its leverage. From the perspective of the region, the US is declining. Moscow, however, has gained the upper hand.



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