Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. These are the countries that have seen United States military presence for the past 20 years, and there is no doubt the American people are fatigued by hearing news about the Middle East on a weekly basis.
Since 1973, the role that oil has played in American foreign policy making is astounding. The MENA region has seen the United States intervene in the Arab-Israeli conflict, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula, Libya, and Turkey. This intervention has been largely driven by the American energy dependence that was needed to fuel a booming post-war economy. Energy independence is a major national security issue because without power, a country is inoperable—this only highlights the need for projects such as the now-defunct Keystone Pipeline, which could have served as a holdover until we further develop green energy technology.
The second aspect of American military presence in the Middle East is one we are far more familiar with—the War on Terror. After the United States killed Osama Bin Laden, many Americans felt that it was an appropriate time to start bringing troops home, but such steps were not so readily taken.
In December of 2012, the United States officially recognized the Syrian Opposition Coalition, opponents of the al-Assad regime, during the Syrian Civil War. It should be made clear that most Western democracies also backed the Syrian rebels while the “bad guys” of the world (Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia) backed the Assad-led Syrian Arab Republic. While most non-Syrian parties provided substantial amounts of operational aid, they also provided humanitarian support. This comes across as a “Sorry, we decided to start proxy wars during your civil war and destroy your country, but not really” message. Unfortunately, Syria has now become the site of an international cold war as the U.N. is still giving Syria large quantities of direct humanitarian aid, Iran is helping rebuild their energy grid, and China is more than willing to enter Syria into the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative.
Regarding Iran’s interest in the region, Syria has served as a stronghold for Hezbollah. The United States has a particular interest in dismantling this group as: (1) they are terrorists, (2) they are enemies of our Middle Eastern allies, and (3) they are supported by the Iranian government. After the ousting of Shah Pallavi, the U.S.-Iran relationship has been in bad shape, but the assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani in January of 2020 sent the relationship to the point of no return. As diplomatic ties have decayed, there are two notable events I would highlight. The first is the indefinite deployment of 900 ground troops, some being integrated with Coalition units, while some are stationed at the American-operated Conoco Outpost. These numbers do not include any new mechanized units President Biden had sent from Iraq to Syria at the beginning of his term. The second notable event is the U.S. using seven JDAM bombs to decimate a small Hezbollah facility in Syria, resulting in 22 terrorist deaths. This strike was in response to the February 15th rocket attack by Hezbollah on a CJTF–OIR base in Kurdistan which left an American contractor and Iraqi civilian dead and eight coalition members wounded.
Here’s why any of this is significant to the average American, and it comes directly from President Biden’s very own campaign website:
“Biden will end the forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, which have cost us untold blood and treasure… Staying entrenched in unwinnable conflicts only drains our capacity to lead on other issues that require our attention…”
While I disagree with most of Biden’s positions, this was certainly a campaign promise I wanted to believe, but unfortunately I do not believe he will follow through. As American citizens, we need to hold our elected officials with far more accountability. Syria is simply fractured and on the path to rebuilding, and ISIS has been virtually eradicated in the Levant. There are two questions that remain unanswered: (1) why is President Biden going back on a promise so many Americans, regardless of political affiliation, believed in, and (2) what is the end goal?
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.