Sputnik: What do you make of Trump's recent tweets on Syria?
Dr. Mohammadbagher Forough: Our job as political scientists is to look for consistent and logical patterns of behavior in policy mechanisms, and as far as that is concerned we cannot really detect any kind of logical consistency in Trump's behavior or tweets. The one thing that's very obvious is that he's easily influenced; that's why his position changes all the time.
Sputnik: What about the allies? German Chancellor Angela Merkel has ruled against her country making any strikes. She has said that there'll be other steps taken against Syria. France and the UK are still thinking about what they're going to do and waiting, perhaps, for some kind of decisions from government. What do you think we can expect from the other potential US allies and do you think that if the US does indeed forgo a strike that perhaps France or the UK will act separately and go ahead and strike?
Dr. Mohammadbagher Forough: I think that it's very unlikely that if the US basically refuses to take any serious action in Syria that either France or the UK will launch an attack on Syria, because they don't have the capabilities, basically, to compete against the forces that are operating in Syria including the Iranians, the Russian military.
These past months, if you follow the news more closely, you will have noticed by now that Turkey has joined the Russian-Iranian- Syrian coalition, if you want to call it that, and even [hosted] the latest gathering, in Ankara. The Iranian President, the Russian President and Turkish President Erdoğan together, they announced that they want a peaceful resolution to the Syrian situation and they also announced that they want no American presence in the region, which was the major item of Erdoğan's concern because Turkey is the second largest NATO army. And they announced that they don't want the largest NATO army which is the American army in the region. So given all these dynamics that are going on in the region, the probability of the UK or France or any other NATO nation launching a major attack in the event of the US not launching any attack is highly unlikely.
Sputnik: And also France and the UK haven't made up their decisions. Do you think that what Russia has said about shooting down missiles and the places from which they're fired could also be an effective deterrent against those allies making the decision to strike?
Dr. Mohammadbagher Forough: I think that the most important factor is the cooling down of the more reasonable heads in the Western political establishment. The Russian position is that they'll not only shoot down the missiles but also the sites from which those missiles have been launched, which could be a fighter jet carrier, which could be a submarine or could be a military base. So the Russian position basically left all the options open. And I think this is the most important factor in this [slight] cooling down that we have fortunately had recently, because the last thing anyone in the world should want is a major confrontation between the two most powerful nuclear powers in the world.
Sputnik: What do you think about US troop withdrawal? Do you think that we're going to see it any time soon? Do you think we're actually looking at a protracted US presence in Syria?
Dr. Mohammadbagher Forough: I should put this Syrian situation and the American role in a larger geopolitical landscape of the world. We're currently in an era of tectonic shifts in the geopolitical and geoeconomic world today. We can see the increasing influence of China; we can see the return of Russia to its great power status. One example is the Russian presence in the Middle East, which is unprecedented in the last three decades. And the American power in the region has been consistently steadily declining but they're obviously not going to completely withdraw from the Middle East and Syria.
It's very hard to predict because there're many other factors involved in this analysis. There's the Israeli and the Saudi factors that are two of the most important factors in the American withdrawal or lack thereof. And these two countries, Israel and Saudi Arabia, are extremely worried about the increasing influence of Iran, which is also part of this new geopolitical and geoeconomic landscape in the world. So the worlds is shifting and in this shift the Western powers and America especially are at their climax, at least as far as the Middle Eastern policies or lack thereof are concerned. And we do feel the increasing influence of China in the Middle East; we can see the increasing influence of Russia. Iran is more powerful now than ever in its contemporary history, which is the last 2 centuries. Turkey has been back and it's not good news for America; they want their own area of influence or sphere of influence.
So given all these dynamics any kind of prediction would be unreasonable. The one consistent trend, not a prediction but trend that we can see is in the last couple of decades the decreasing influence of Western powers in the Middle East but that's not that that's going to go away from all of Middle East.
The views and opinions expressed by Dr Mohammadbagher Forough are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.