United States will officially end its combat missions in Iraq before the end of this year. This will be an important sign of the strategic contraction of the USA Influence In The Middle East.
The implementation of USA Influence In The Middle East strategic contraction does not mean that the United States will “abandon” the Middle East. Although the importance of the Middle East on the American global strategic chessboard has declined, the region still affects some major strategic interests of the United States.
The decline of USA Influence In The Middle East is relative. Its dominant position in the Middle East has not changed, and its military presence in the Middle East remains strong. In order to safeguard its own interests, the United States will still exert influence on the Middle East through various channels.
The strategic goals of the USA Influence In The Middle East policy have been dynamically adjusted. Looking back on the U.S. Middle East strategy since World War II, its changes have basically kept pace with the adjustment of U.S. global strategy.
After the Suez Canal War in 1956, the United States replaced Britain and France as the main “player” of the Western world in the Middle East. “USA Influence In The Middle East”
During the “Cold War”, the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in strategic competitions around the world.
The Middle East is an important stage for the United States and the Soviet Union to compete, but the United States has not been directly involved in the Middle East conflict on a large scale, but has implemented a policy of “offshore balance” for a long time. Defending Israeli security, controlling energy in the Middle East, and preventing the Soviet Union and its allies from controlling the Middle East are the core interests of the United States. “USA Influence In The Middle East”
After the end of the “Cold War”, the promotion of American “democracy” and “freedom” and the establishment of a new Middle Eastern order dominated by the United States became its main strategic goals.
However, the Gulf War that broke out in 1991 completely changed the USA Influence In The Middle East strategy. During the Gulf War, the United States sent a large army directly to the war and drove the Iraqi army out of Kuwait. Since then, US Middle East policy has shifted from “offshore balance” to large-scale intervention.
After the “September 11” incident in 2001, combating terrorism, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and promoting regional “democratic” transformation have become the core content of the Bush administration’s Middle East policy. In the view of the Bush Administration, the “democracy deficit” in the Middle East is the main source of the spread of regional terrorism.
During the 2003 Iraq War, US troops directly invaded Iraq and overthrew the Saddam regime. Before the large-scale withdrawal in 2011, the United States maintained a long-term garrison of about 100,000 troops in Iraq, which was the pinnacle of the United States’ large-scale intervention strategy.
After Obama was elected president in 2008, in view of the lessons from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the decline in US power and status, and the launch of the “Asia-Pacific Rebalancing” strategy, the United States further adjusted its Middle East policy and adopted many measures to reduce strategic investment in the Middle East. “USA Influence In The Middle East”
For example, the large-scale withdrawal of troops from Iraq in 2011, and China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany reached a nuclear agreement with Iran in 2015. The core idea of the Obama administration’s Middle East policy is to implement strategic contraction in the Middle East and shift the US global strategic focus from the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific.
After Trump came to power in 2017, counter-terrorism and containment of Iran are the primary goals of the US government’s Middle East policy. Trump’s Middle East policy is designed to allow the United States to achieve a complete strategic withdrawal from the Middle East. Trump emphasizes “America First” and his Middle East policy is also profit-oriented, reflecting the characteristics of unilateralism and pragmatism.
After the Biden administration takes office in 2021, it will end the “endless war”, return to the Iranian nuclear agreement, and promote value diplomacy as the three major priorities of the Middle East policy. The main goal of the Biden administration’s Middle East policy is to contain Russia and Iran and regain the leadership in Middle East affairs affect USA Influence In The Middle East.
Focus of U.S. Strategic Interests in the Middle East (USA Influence In The Middle East)
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Looking back at the U.S. Middle East strategy in different periods, it is not difficult to find that the U.S. core interests in the Middle East mainly have two aspects, namely, maintaining U.S. national security interests and controlling the energy resources in the Middle East.
In terms of security interests, the United States must first maintain a balance between its ally Israel and its Arab partners, not only to ensure Israel’s security, but also to take into account the positions and reactions of Arab countries; the second is to combat terrorism and avoid the “September 11” incident. Repeatedly; the third is to ensure that Iran will not possess nuclear weapons.
In terms of energy interests, the United States must prevent its opponents from controlling the energy in the Middle East. Although the U.S. domestic shale oil development has achieved results, this does not mean that Middle East energy has become unimportant. The United States can influence the Middle East, thereby affecting the supply of oil to Europe and Asia, and even the price of international oil and natural gas. “USA Influence In The Middle East”
To put it bluntly, the most important part of U.S. strategic interests in the Middle East is to maintain U.S. influence in the region. In order to achieve this, the United States needs to act as an external leader in major security affairs in the region, and it also needs to prevent other major powers from becoming competitors in this position of the United States.
USA Influence In The Middle East has declined
In the past few decades, the United States has conducted armed or unarmed interventions in the Middle East many times, but the result is that the Middle East is more chaotic, the United States is in an even more embarrassing situation, and its influence continues to decline.
In West Asia and the Middle East, some people believe that the U.S. fleeing from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s rapid takeover of power in Afghanistan are a signal that participants in the region can no longer rely on the ever-weakening power of the United States. UAE analyst Abdul Khalik Abdullah wrote in the National newspaper that “it’s time to reduce dependence on Washington in strategic areas”
The United States launched the Iraq War, overthrew the Saddam regime, and fostered the so-called “democratic regime” in Iraq. However, the current Iraqi government is getting closer and closer to Iran, which is hostile to the United States, due to religious, cultural, and historical reasons. The Iraqi parliament made a resolution to allow foreign troops to withdraw from Iraq, which is tantamount to an eviction order against the U.S. military, which severely damaged the face of the United States as a major power.
The transition process in Egypt and Libya has not moved in the direction expected by the United States. The tragic death of Benghazi in 2012 of the US ambassador to Libya has proved that the United States is facing increasing threats in the Middle East affect USA Influence In The Middle East.
Salman Sheikh, director of the Doha Research Center of the Brookings Institution, pointed out that the view that the United States will become insignificant in the Middle East is naive, but it is also wrong not to notice that the era of the United States as a diplomatic superpower in the region is coming to an end. . He said, “The United States is still an important player, but it is no longer the big brother.”
The United States still promises to protect the security of the Central ASEAN countries, but practice shows that the United States can no longer protect the regime security of its allies, especially security threats from within the allies. Egypt is an important ally of the United States in the Middle East. In 2011, when the Egyptian Mubarak regime was in crisis.
United States stood by and let it fall. Later, there were large-scale demonstrations in Bahrain, the royal regime was facing challenges, and the United States had no intention of intervening. Later, Saudi troops sent troops to quell the situation. In the foreseeable future, the United States will no longer be able to deploy ground forces on a large scale for any Middle Eastern country.
At the level of the game among major powers in the Middle East, the United States failed to gain the upper hand. After Russia intervened in the Syrian war in 2015, it not only succeeded in maintaining the Bashar regime, but also mediated the conflict between Kurdish and Turkish forces in northeastern Syria. In addition, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the two strategic allies of the United States, are constantly approaching, which has a major impact on the geopolitics and regional security of the Middle East. Russia influence in the Middle East has increased significantly affect USA Influence In The Middle East.
At the regional level, the phenomenon of countries in the Middle East doing their own things and not listening to the orders of the United States has become more prominent, especially countries such as Iran, Turkey, Israel, and Saudi Arabia have become extremely active. U.S. allies such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt all purchase S-400 air defense missile systems and Su-30 fighter jets from Russia, putting the U.S. government in a very embarrassing situation. In 2019, when Turkey aggressively marched into the Syrian Kurdish armed forces.
Trump announced that the United States would withdraw its troops from Syria, and would not hesitate to abandon allies that had fought side by side with the United States in the war against the “Islamic State”. As a result, the United States lost its credibility and consumed its influence. force.
From the perspective of countries in the Middle East, after more than a hundred years of gross intervention by foreign powers, the countries in the Middle East have accumulated a certain degree of resentment and distrust of foreign powers, especially the United States, calling for independent decision-making of national affairs. Continuously enhance.
U.S. will not abandon the Middle East, USA Influence In The Middle East
Judging from its global strategic intentions, the United States wants to get rid of several “mess” that have emerged in the Middle East as soon as possible, so as to concentrate on the competition among major powers. However, from the perspective of reality, complex Middle East hotspot issues, such as the Palestine-Israel issue, the Iranian nuclear issue, and the Syrian issue, are all related to the major interests of the United States, making it “want to go, but difficult to go, and not reconciled.” Dilemma.
The Washington Post believes that the recent moves by the Biden administration reflect a change in its foreign policy, shifting its focus from the Middle East and counter-terrorism to the “threat” of other major powers. This transformation has become the diplomatic “pillar” of the Biden administration.
However, history has proven that it is not easy for the United States to withdraw from the Middle East. Voices against Biden’s Middle East policy have emerged in the United States. Veteran Republican Senator Graham criticized Biden’s Middle East policy as “a disaster in the making”, or led to the comeback of the “Al-Qaida” organization and the “Islamic State”.
Hall, a senior researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a US think tank, believes that Iran’s growing influence in Iraq is one of several reasons why Biden’s foreign policy changes may not be achieved as planned.
In addition, if the Iranian nuclear issue is not handled properly, it will be difficult for the United States to truly withdraw from the Middle East, and it will be difficult for the United States to concentrate on global strategic competition. For the Biden administration, returning to the Iran nuclear agreement is one of the labels of its Middle East policy. But this year has passed halfway, and the prospect of returning to the Iranian nuclear agreement is uncertain. Leahy’s election as Iran’s president has deepened America’s anxiety.
For the United States, Leahy brings multiple uncertainties, which not only add to the uncertainty of the Iranian nuclear negotiations, but also the U.S. Middle East policy and the direction of the relationship between the United States and Iran.
In general, the United States has to reduce its strategic investment in the Middle East while maintaining its strategic interests in the Middle East. These two goals are contradictory, and the United States is in a state of losing ground.