A U.S. Withdrawal Will Cause a Power Struggle in the Middle East

A convoy of US armoured vehicles patrols the northeastern town of Qahtaniyah at the border with Turkey, on October 31, 2019. - US forces accompanied by Kurdish fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) patrolled part of Syria's border with Turkey, in the first such move since Washington withdrew troops from the area earlier this month, an AFP correspondent reported. (Photo by Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP) (Photo by DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images)


The article discusses the United States’ policy of ending “endless wars” especially in the Middle East and power struggles in the region. Although the U.S.’ reliance on Middle East’s oil has decreased, geographically it remains vital to the U.S.’ interests. The United States’ global defense system and reliance on maritime trade and transport for its economic power, requires access to the Levantine Basin and the Suez Canal. The author focuses on a regional scenario that Iran is one true aspirational contender of regional hegemony, but Israel and Saudi Arabia are the challengers of Iran’s ambitions. Turkey is a strong candidate but for strategic balance it is unprepared for potential confrontation with Iran and Russia. The current alliance of Syrian regime and Iran, Turkey may well forego cooperation with the unofficial Saudi-Israeli entente. The United States must contend with China’s growing control of the Mediterranean and European port infrastructure, and with Russia’s air and naval bases at Khmeimim and Tartus. He suggests three possibilities in the event of U.S. naval withdrawal from the region, and none favor U.S. interests. Russia may broker political arrangements among Turkey, Israel, and Iran ; alternatively, it may support a coalition pitting some of those states against another in an effort to manufacture a manageable regional balance of power. Russia will still bid for control of the Mediterranean Sea. China can manipulate its European economic partners into limiting or expelling the U.S. Navy from its Mediterranean bases.  If Iran defeats Saudi Arabia in a regional confrontation, control of Middle Eastern oil exports would give Iran the ability to coerce and intimidate the United States’ European and Pacific allies. The author concludes that the United States’ withdrawal will certainly give rise to another hegemon in the region that is hostile to U.S. interests. Such a change would copper-fasten the United States’ loss of great-power status.


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