The President has created one of the greatest legacies of friendship and brotherhood with Israel of anyone who has sat in the White House. His move of the United States Embassy to its rightful eternal home in Jerusalem after so many others failed, and his tearing up of the Iran Nuclear Deal despite his soon-to-be-leaving Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ objection to doing so, puts him in the Foreign Policy Hall of Fame.
He now wants to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians. It is a noble and worthy goal. If anyone can pull it off, it will be President Donald J. Trump. Having said that, I would like to respectfully interject some of my thoughts.
For starters, it is very difficult to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians when war is raging in other areas of the Middle East. Getting rid of ISIS is a major accomplishment and a fulfillment of a campaign promise. The President does not get enough credit for this. Despite James Mattis’ criticism, the President has more importantly re-established America’s credibility as a dependable force for good in the most dangerous neighborhood in the world. He also does not get enough credit for having done so. He has realistically re-aligned some very tough and outright rogue countries into a more controllable situation.
Under President Obama, these very same countries were at their worst behavior. Under President Trump, they are at their best behavior. This is why peace actually can be achieved.
However, rather than focusing on peace between Mahmoud Abbas and Israel, the President should focus on establishing a Kurdish state, getting Iran out of Syria, getting Hezbollah out of Lebanon, and getting Hamas out of Gaza. The focus should not be on creating a PLO state but on establishing, once and for all, a Kurdish state. The Kurds deserve a state a lot more than the PLO. Finally, carving out a Kurdish state would be a crowning achievement that is good for America, good for Israel, and good for the rest of the Middle East.
This is actually more realistic now that ISIS has been defeated. Although, at first blush, pulling out American troops from Syria would seem to diminish the likelihood of a Kurdish state, that might not be the case. Although Erdogan of Turkey has been a bad actor in the Middle East for a long time, the President actually has gotten him to behave. This is precisely why the President felt he could give our troops in Syria a “break” before the holiday season.
Of course, Erdogan can revert to his old ways and defy the President. I do not think Erdogan will risk doing that. I also think that if the President tells Erdogan that he wants to create a Kurdish state, Erdogan will give in, just as he promised the President that he would not attack the Kurds after the American troop withdrawal.
It will be a lot harder dealing with Syria and Iran. The pieces are slowly coming together. I fully expect the Secretary of State, the new Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Advisor to be very busy in 2019. Overall, I am optimistic that a Kurdish state will be part of their workload.
Joseph M. Frager is a physician and lifelong activist.