12:55 GMT19 January 2021
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    NATO is to undertake its largest military training exercise in a decade with a focus on fighting Islamic State jihadists. However the announcement has been met with concern over the West's plans for the Middle East, following the impacts of recent military interventions in the region.

    The military alliance's 'Trident Juncture 2015' will take place in October and November, with more than 36,000 personnel from 30 NATO and partner countries taking part in exercises across Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and North America.

    Having previously accused Russia of interfering in the Ukrainian conflict, and subsequently expanding their eastern European military presence, NATO says the upcoming Trident military exercises are being designed to prepare forces to take on jihadist fighters, such as those fighting for the Islamic State.

    This has sparked concern among some critics who have criticized NATO's movements in recent times, arguing that the alliance has moved to increase geopolitical tensions.

    In particular, NATO expansion of eastern European bases in the Baltic countries, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania has been met with criticism by Moscow.Russia, who denies any involvement in the internal conflict in Ukraine, is among the critics of NATO's recent movements, with the foreign ministry saying that the alliance's military activities were accompanied by "unfriendly and malicious" rhetoric in recent times.

    The West's Chaotic History of Middle Eastern Involvement

    However NATO's announcement that the training exercises will specifically focus on fighting jihadists has raised concerns about the potential for an increase in western intervention in the Middle East.

    Western powers, led by the US and UK, have been heavily criticized for the impacts of their military involvement in Middle Eastern countries in recent times, with critics arguing that intervention has further destabilized the region.

    Following the impacts of the Iraq invasion of 2003, which has seen the country left in a highly divided state, western powers also voted in favor of a bombing campaign to depose former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

    Gaddafi was eventually removed from power and killed following NATO's bombing of Libya, while the country has suffered since, with an ongoing civil war creating a severe humanitarian crisis, and various rebel groups controlling large parts of Libya — so much so that the country's internationally-recognized government sits in Tobruk, rather than the capital of Tripoli.

    Another country affected by the West's actions in recent times has been Afghanistan, which has suffered from an increase in violence and instability following the American departure from the country.

    After more than a decade in Afghanistan, many considered the US withdrawal to be a rather hasty exit, leading to the emergence and growth of various rebel militia groups and the revival of the Taliban.

    As a result of these foreign policy failings there are concerns over the long-term impacts of western involvement in Syria in Iraq, with a US-led alliance of nations taking part in a bombing campaign to try and defeat the jihadists, while also training and arming local government forces in Iraq, and "moderate" Islamist rebel groups in Syria.

    There have been many vocal critics of the western strategy in fighting ISIL, with concerns any further intervention could have an even more damaging short and long-term impact.


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    Middle East, military drills, NATO, destabilization, Intervention, western medling, military exercises, conflict, war, Iraq War, Syrian crisis, The Syrian war, Libya, Syria, Russia
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