Assad Trumps America

Published: November 10, 2016

America needs someone with less political scruples and more business skills to get deals signed with Russia and perhaps even Assad to save face.

While all eyes were focused on America, another part of the world was also eagerly looking forward to the result that will come out of the US election. With Donald Trump, becoming the next American Commander-in-Chief, Bashar Al-Assad the current President of Syria can breathe a sigh of relief – at least for now. Unlike Hillary Clinton, who probably would have extended Barack Obama’s policy of using clandestine operations and proxy troops in the Middle East, Trump has hinted that he would try to stem the heavy expenses being incurred in such endeavours to revive the economy.

A recent interview of Assad’s was published in The New York Times, making him out to be a cool and controlled monster who blames the strife in his country on the West, especially on America. The piece was, as one can hope, biased and leaned towards the western image of Assad, which they had created to sell this war to their public. However, not all is wrong with the image that they portray.

Assad is a dictator, the last of his kind in a Middle East which has been bombed out and flushed of dictatorial rules particularly the Ba’athist kind. His rule has given rise to strife within his country, which has been put down through an iron fist ala Saddam Hussein. The only thing that really goes his way during this sad saga of war and suffering in Syria for the past few years is that the seeming enormity of the ‘moderate’ opposition and ISIS, have all been inflated and supported by a concerted western agenda. His ‘oil producing’ regional enemies or rather ‘extremist ideology supporting’ regional opponents have had their fill recruiting, training, arming and infiltrating ‘jihadis’ (read pseudo-religious mercenaries) but to no avail.

Assad has friends of his own – in Iran, whose dominant anti-Israel interests, which is the cornerstone of their foreign policy, are threatened if he is gone and of course in Russia, the re-emerging superpower whose bases in Syria are under threat as well. Some rumours suggest that the Chinese are also tacitly involved along with Russia and Iran but there is no factual confirmation of this, so one cannot assert it. There’s more at stake for America and the West than most people can fathom. It’s not all about regional control and military might, not to mention energy interests.

Since people are averse to certain facts and I do not want to be negatively highlighted for writing this, let’s just say what follows is a conspiracy theory.

If America were to lose the Syrian war, it risks losing all of its clout and financial power – not because it lost a proxy war but because it would beckon the death of the petrodollar. Trump’s election win is no fluke or an upset. The American ‘establishment’ needs him to get them out of the financial rut they find themselves in as they believe that Trump’s cockiness, arrogance and most of all his ability to make deals with his competitors, is the only way out of this mess. Herein lie the problems the US dollar would be facing with the fall of the petrodollar.

What is the petrodollar and how does the petrodollar work? Well simply put, petrodollars are the US dollars used to trade oil in the international market. Since all currencies are floating and their values are determined by their demand and supply, the more dollars traded, the stronger it becomes. If people still don’t know, the world dumped the Gold-Standard or backing of a currency by Gold Bullion a long time ago, specifically after Bretton-Woods. The dollar maintained its supremacy being pegged favourably since Bretton-Woods and becoming the international currency of exchange and trade. This dollar exchange in international trade is now under pressure from more and more countries, who have signed agreements to trade in local currencies especially the world’s new economic juggernaut China. The more the dollar is side-lined in international trade, the weaker it becomes.

Add to this the fact that the Chinese Yuan will be available to trade in the international market in 2016-17 and this frightening prospect comes into sharp focus for the US and the Federal Reserve.

The US dollar and America are in a precarious situation. Either America preserves the petrodollar and its hegemony over the world’s oil trade or it runs the risk of a premature death to its once mighty currency. Hence Bashar Al-Assad must die. If he survives with the help of his allies and the US proxies are defeated, the region will turn towards the east (Russia and China) as their new Qibla. It will only be a matter of time before the whole of Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) follows suit and new oil bourse are created which offer a basket of currencies for trade rather than just the US dollar.

Donald Trump is the right guy, who won at the right time. This does not mean I support him in the least. However, America needs someone with less political scruples and more business skills to get deals signed with Russia and perhaps even Assad to save face. Without a proper political resolution to the Syria conflict, one which involves the protection of both American and Russian interests (Russian interests are more or less Syrian interests), America is looking down the barrel of a gun.

Let’s just hope Trump can keep his word and not start another war. If he does, Assad can comfortably look forward to the end of another seven year term in office and of course the title of the ‘superpower killer’.

Shar

Shar

The author holds an MPhil in Public Administration and has taught Politics and Public Policy at the University of Karachi.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.