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The US grip on the Middle East slips
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The US grip on the Middle East slips, and peace breaks out

The Middle East is witnessing peace talks, compromise, and rapprochement among nations, leading to a decline in Washington’s influence in the region. President Joe Biden’s leadership has contributed to the downgrade in the status of the West amongst various long-time Middle East allies. Poor decision-making in the Middle East by the US has started to catch up with it, leading to a notable blow to the US narrative that depicts its role as a stabilizer and democracy advocate. The collapse of the strategy to unite Saudi Arabia with the likes of Egypt, the UAE, Jordan, Bahrain, and Israel against Iran and its allies in the region is an indication of the declining influence of the US in the region.

The recent Chinese-mediated agreement to end a decades-long feud between Iran and Saudi Arabia is another major blow to Washington’s influence. It is speculated to have caused Riyadh to scrap its plans for normalizing ties with Israel at this time. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said that he didn’t care if the US President had misunderstood things about him and also told advisors that pleasing the Americans is no longer a priority. Additionally, Riyadh entered into serious negotiations with Yemen’s Ansarallah to end the war that has claimed around 400,000 lives in the country. Tunisia re-establishing ties with Syria and Ankara being on the cusp of rapprochement with Damascus is contrary to the US agenda. Qatar has also announced that it is restoring ties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, making it seem as if the common denominator is the absence of the US. The US strategy in the Middle East has been to impose its dominance through the military sphere, primarily.

The creation of a Sunni-Shia cold war that pitted Iran and Saudi Arabia against each other has also been a selling point. The strength of Iran’s weapons programs, along with its regional alliances, has largely left the US incapable of maintaining a military edge that severely outweighs the power of its opposition. The American overstretch in the region has seen it driven from Afghanistan and rendered it incapable of protecting its allies from the damage of potential missile strikes from Iran and its allies. Washington actively builds relationships based on strategies that put its own partners in the firing line, but the air defense systems it sells to them do not provide enough protection. Even when it comes to the Palestine-Israel conflict, an issue wedded to the US since 1967, US leadership is waning.

China’s foreign minister, Qin Gang, recently proposed to his Palestinian Authority and Israeli counterparts that Beijing steps in to facilitate dialogue between the two sides. Although the conflict is not going to be solved overnight, the mere fact that another world power is stepping into the arena will certainly send a message to American policymakers. Instead of engaging the region as equals, and looking for economic partnerships that are mutually beneficial, the US has used its military might to divide and conquer, inflicting millions of deaths and spending trillions of dollars in the process. This approach has led to a decline in the US influence in the region.

The decline of the US influence in the Middle East is not new, but recent events show that the US is struggling to maintain its dominance in the region. Its military approach has not brought peace or stability to the region but has instead caused significant harm and devastation. The strategy of pitting nations against each other has not worked, and it has caused resentment towards the US from nations that have been affected by the conflicts it has fueled.

The recent rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia, facilitated by China, is an indication of the decline of the US influence in the region. The US strategy of creating a Middle East NATO, which would unite Saudi Arabia with Egypt, the UAE, Jordan, Bahrain, and Israel against Iran and its allies in the region, has collapsed.

By: Mr. Ibraheem Khalil

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