During the third Presidential Debate, candidate Donald Trump made a bizarre claim. That Russia, under former Secretary Clinton’s tenure, was allowed to “take over the Middle East”. Here’s the quote in context:
“The Russians can’t believe it,” Trump said. “She has been outsmarted by Putin and all you have to do is look at the Middle East. We’ve spent $6 trillion. They’ve taken over the Middle East.”
When Trump says that ‘Russians have taken over the Middle East’, I assume he’s talking about the common complaint that Russia is outmaneuvering the U.S. in Syria. The Russian government is supporting the brutal regime of Bashar Al-Assad, while the U.S. backs the rebels fighting against him, and many think that the Obama administration is not doing enough to stand up to Russia, and that Obama hasn’t done enough to stop Assad.
But to say that Russia has taken over the Middle East, as if Russia has it all under military occupation, is a gross over-exaggeration of Russia’s influence in the region. Even if Russia is outplaying us in Syria, which is a valid opinion, they only have influence over one-half of a country. Bear in mind, the Syrian civil war is still raging.
Speaking of military occupation, the Soviet Union tried to invade Afghanistan in 1979, which has made Middle Eastern countries suspicious of Russian influence – not dissimilar to how the Iraq war made them suspicious of the US. So aside from Syria, there’s not a terribly huge amount of Near Eastern countries that welcome Russia.