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HomeGeopolitical CompassThe AmericasA U.S. Withdrawal Will Cause a Power Struggle in the Middle East

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

Authors: Seth Cropsey, Gary Roughead

Affiliation: Hudson Institute Hoover Institution

Organization/Publisher: Foreign Policy

Date/Place: December 17, 2019, U.S. 

Type of Literature: Article

Word Count: 2513


Keywords: Endless Wars, Meditation, Eurasia, Middle East, United States  


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.

By: Razia Wadood, CIGA Senior Research Associate



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