InternationalMiddle East

The US withdrawal from the Middle East is a change of approach, not a strategy


According to these reports; At first glance, a change in US Middle East policy may seem serious, but in practice, a change in US macro-strategy for the region is a misconception. Washington’s decision to change its priorities is not new, and has been around since the Barack Obama presidency, was consolidated in the Trump administration, and is being implemented by Biden.

In the field of action, various factors have changed the view of the White House. As China’s power and influence in the region and the world grows, Washington is worried about its defeat by Beijing and is trying to change the way it interacts with China from a competitive to a confrontational one. In this context, the White House feels that it should allocate more military and economic resources to Asia; It has therefore decided to reduce its manpower and military equipment to other parts of the world and move them to East Asia.

according to this; The new strategy seems somewhat critical. Contrary to many major US policies, both parties and their presidents seem to agree with this decision. The hasty withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan, however, increased sensitivities about the decision and how it would be implemented. Washington has already reduced and relocated much of its equipment, missile systems and forces stationed on the Persian Gulf, including Saudi Arabia.

However, developments in the Middle East are complicated. On the one hand, Washington has not yet thought about a new order, and on the other hand, the Middle East is facing severe economic and social pressures from Corona.

Minimalism and looking east to Washington

The current decision reflects a broad consensus on Washington’s foreign policy, as well as important trends in public opinion. Both parties agree that the Middle East is no longer the region that matters most to US interests. “Both parties are seeking to minimize their presence in the Middle East in their own way,” said a senior Biden State Department official. Although President Trump and Obama disagreed on the rhetoric, they both believed that the United States was too involved in the Middle East. In addition to these two US priorities in the past, “maintaining the flow of Persian Gulf oil at reasonable prices and ensuring the survival of Israel” but now, both are less related to US interests.A new consensus has emerged in the United States on China and Russia, and the approach has shifted from a “competition” policy to a “deliberate confrontation.”

Another motivation for changing America’s view of the Middle East, especially the Persian Gulf, is China’s growing global power, its sense of powerlessness, and Washington’s lagging behind Beijing in many economic and political areas. Mahmoud Sari al-Qalam, a professor of international relations at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran, wrote in a report: “A new consensus has emerged in the United States on China and Russia, and the approach has shifted from a ‘competition’ policy to a ‘measured confrontation.’

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US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has also spoken openly about the need to reconsider priorities, especially in the Middle East. Give.

Power vacuum in the Middle East

Joe Biden has been familiar with Middle East politics since he was a senator, and he is well aware that managing the region’s affairs is linked to Washington’s global reputation. An unplanned and sudden departure from the Middle East will have far greater consequences than the event in Afghanistan. Making similar mistakes can embolden the regional and global rivals of the United States while increasing their power and influence.

“The intensification of regional rivalries, the resurgence of Russia and China’s growing role in the Middle East are among the challenges facing the United States in the Middle East,” said Emil Hokkaim, an expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. In addition, what worries Washington is the poor performance of the four traditional US allies in the region, namely Israel, Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which compete with or contradict US strategic priorities. Israel has destroyed any prospect of a Palestinian state, Egypt has distanced itself from the United States and chosen Russia as its partner, Turkey is pursuing its neighborly policies regardless of US and NATO interests, and Saudi Arabia, which entered the United States in the Yemeni war. If it fails, the Kurds will incur great costs for the regional power of the United States. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are also embroiled in a regional rivalry with Turkey. Meanwhile, the rift between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and Qatar has frustrated American policymakers and hampered efforts to achieve regional security.

The Middle East Eye report also states that in any case, whether the US secession from the region is real or illusory, it creates a sense of emptiness that fuels anxiety.

Biden multiple goals in the Middle East

According to the American Institute of Thought; Biden plans to withdraw from the Middle East at a time when Iran has considerable influence throughout the region and sees itself as the main winner of the US withdrawal from the region. Tehran is trying to highlight the White House move as a victory for itself. The US withdrawal from the region was the same goal that Tehran insisted on pursuing after the assassination of Sardar Soleimani. Demonstrating a multilateralist approach, the new White House team is trying to regain the credibility of the US-backed Trump administration and form a coalition to control Iran and manage the future of the Middle East.

“Starting diplomacy with Iran is a necessity in Biden’s Middle East strategy,” said the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank. He defended the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran and lamented the Trump administration’s withdrawal. Biden and his advisers also acknowledged the failure of Trump’s strategy of maximum pressure on Iran, because now Iran’s nuclear progress and enriched uranium reserves have increased along with its regional influence, and the Iranian regime has stood firm despite sanctions and pressure.

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With this in mind, Anthony Blinken, an old friend and senior Middle East expert, hired Rob Mali as the United States Special Representative for Iran to advance Washington’s policies.

According to the report of this think tank; “By showing a multilateralist approach, the new White House team is trying to regain the credibility that the United States lost during the Trump era and to form a coalition to control Iran and manage the future of the Middle East.”

Building a security coalition to protect Washington’s interests in the Middle East

The breakdown of the United States in the Middle East over the past two decades has led many Western experts on Middle East issues to view the US secession from the region as a serious break from the historical pattern of Western involvement in regional security management over the past century. However, the United States is trying to achieve its goals by attracting self-help from countries in the region at a lower cost. The United States’s 2015 National Security Strategy also calls for long-term stability in the Middle East with the cooperation of partners who can defend themselves. The Obama doctrine is rooted in the belief that US partners need to do more to protect themselves.The issue that the United States is working to implement in the Middle East is to shift the US security role in the region from a guarantor to a coalition builder.

Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, along with Daniel Benayem, a member of the State Department’s policy planning staff, published an article in Foreign Affairs in May 2020 entitled “America’s Opportunity in the Middle East”: The United States has tried many times. Use military means to achieve unattainable results in the Middle East, but now is the time to use aggressive diplomacy to achieve more lasting results.

According to this report; The issue that the United States is working to implement in the Middle East is to shift Washington’s security role in the region from a guarantor to a coalition builder. Overcoming regional rivalries and convincing partners to take greater responsibility for regional security is a path that requires sustained and inclusive US diplomacy. In this direction, the United States intends to use any means to persuade its allies and partners outside the Middle East to participate in the region in order to achieve strategic goals for the Middle East.

In practice, the United States is trying to use its European and Asian allies to play a greater role alongside traditional Arab partners and rulers in order to reduce its costs and reduce the cost and volume of criticism of White House unilateralism in world and Middle East affairs.

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