By Harold Rhode
Just as America abandoned the Shah of Iran in 1978-79, it has now abandoned its Afghan allies. Other U.S. allies — such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and Israel — must ask themselves whether America can be trusted to come to their aid in times of need. Sadly, the answer is a resounding no.
This undoubtedly will lead to a further tightening of the ties between the Sunni-Arab Gulf states and Israel. To paraphrase former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer: “If you can’t rely on the 250-lb gorilla (America) to protect you, then the 100-lb gorilla (Israel) is your next best alternative.”
This is not the only silver lining, however.
The apparent winners in the debacles — the Taliban, ISIS and other terrorist groups — hate one another. And, due to the eternal battle between militant Sunni forces and the fanatic leaders of the Shi’ite Islamic Republic, Iran hates them. Fears that Tehran and the Taliban are about to engage in serious cooperation, thus, are overblown.
As a result, the task at hand is to encourage all of the above enemies to fight against one another. Given their inability to overcome their historical enmity and put the past behind them, this shouldn’t be too difficult.
One could argue that sometimes enemies cooperate when they consider it in their interest to do so. One example is the CIA and KGB. The same applies to Muslims, such as when the Iranian leadership protected the children of the anti-Shi’ite heads of al-Qaeda and ISIS.
This was a sophisticated strategy on the part of Tehran: to treat the families of potential enemies very well and keep an eye on them — like hostages. Its Sunni enemies understood that if they were to attack the Shi’ite regime, it would kill their sons living in Iran.
America should never take sides when its enemies battle among themselves. The U.S. must only attack when an enemy strikes it, and do so mercilessly, conveying the message that it’s not worth it to attack Americans or U.S. interests.
This is what Israel has been doing to Iran and its proxy Hezbollah in Syria, without deploying troops on the ground. The U.S. needs to emulate the Israeli model of protecting interests from the air.
Harold Rhode received in Ph.D. in Islamic history and later served as an adviser on Islamic Culture for 28 years in the Office of the U.S. Department of Defense. He is now a distinguished senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute.
A longer version of this piece can be found here.