US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi in Cairo on January 10, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: Senior US diplomats are facing a tough time in repairing the damage wrought by President Donald Trump’s perceived muddled policy in the Middle East, according to analysts.

That is why US National Security Advisor John Bolton and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are currently touring the region in a damage control mission.

They will try to explain Trump’s latest statements while assuring US allies of their loyalty and conviction to fighting threats that face them.

Last month, Trump shocked regional allies and some members of his administration by announcing a plan to withdraw US service members from Syria, declaring victory over Daesh terrorists in the war-racked country.

His surprise plan has raised worries that Syrian forces and their Iranian allies would move in to fill in the void.

“The US under Trump is gradually losing the confidence of its allies because he has repeatedly behaved without taking their interests into consideration or even consulting with them,” Salah Al Hadi, an Egyptian analyst, said.

Trump’s pullout scheme prompted US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and the US representative at the anti-Daesh coalition Brett McGurk to resign.

The plan was unveiled at a time when Turkey threatened to carry out a major offensive against Kurdish insurgents in northern Syria, whom Ankara considers an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party fighting on the Turkish land.

“The latest [pullout] decision reflects Trump’s short-sighted and contradictory policy and his inclination towards isolationism,” Al Hadi told Gulf News.

“How can he claim he is determined to stop Iranian influence in the region and at the same time gives it the chance to expand this influence?” he asked.

“His decision is a gift on a gold platter to Russia, Iran and the Syrian regime. In addition, Daesh terrorists are still operating in Syria. They have recently carried out a series of counter-attacks against the Syrian Democratic Forces in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border,” he added, referring to a Syrian Kurdish militia that has played a major role in a US-led campaign against militants in Syria.

Faced with criticism, Trump later said he does not plan a swift pullout from Syria and sent two senior aides to the Middle East in an attempt to reassure allies about Washington’s regional commitments.

Bolton visited Israel and Turkey earlier this week whiel Pompeo is currently on a nine-stop trip to the Middle East, which has already taken him to Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

“Let’s put it this way: The Trump administration is in a mess and lacks harmony. Occasional resignations expose this incoherence. One trip or two to the region cannot control, let alone, remove the damage resulting from Trump’s ill-studied decisions. The Arab-American relations are still suffering from his [2017] decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy to Jerusalem,” Al Hadi said.

Jerusalem is Islam’s third holiest site and its status is crucial for settling the decades-old dispute between Palestinians and Israelis.

“Pompeo’s sweet words during his tour will not dispel doubts about US intentions in the Arab world. For Mr Trump, this part of the world is just a treasure of wealth and financial deals,” Al Hadi added.

Prior to Pompeo’s week-long trip, the State department said that he will focus on two main themes: the US is committed to the Middle East; and boost of an alliance against Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.

In Egypt, Pompeo Thursday insisted that the US would continue to fight terrorism and accused the media of creating a false narrative about Trump’s Syria pullout move.

“Battles against ISIS [Daesh], Al Qaida and other terrorist groups continue,” the top US diplomat told a press conference in Cairo.

Pompeo’s reassurances are unlikely to make a strong impression on the region’s skeptical audience, though.

“The US foreign policy is hard to understand under the administration of Trump,” Saeed Al Lawandi, an expert at the Cairo-based Al Ahram Centre for Strategic Studies, said.

“There are a lot of ambiguous things coming out from Washington, which cannot be explained. This is confirmed by recent resignations among senior US officials themselves,” he added.

Al Lawandi believes that the aim of the trips of Bolton and Pompeo is to “interpret” the pullout operation to Washington’s partners.

“The ulterior motive for Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from here and there is to get more money from allies. This has repeatedly been clear in Trump’s public remarks,” he argued. “Trump behaves as a businessman, not a politician. This approach makes the US lose trust.”