End Of US Hegemony? – OpEd


The hegemony of the United States in the Middle East has experienced a decline since the onset of the Arab uprisings in 2011, as highlighted by Brian Michael Jenkins, a senior adviser to the RAND president and the author of “Al Qaeda in Its Third Decade: Irreversible Decline or Imminent Victory?”. This decline can be attributed to several factors, including ineffective diplomacy by the current administration, the emergence of new regional powers, and shifting economic interests.

The United States has encountered challenges to its influence in the Middle East from various actors. For example, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey have refused to grant the United States access to their airspace for military operations against Iran. This denial of access is part of a broader pattern where the United States finds itself marginalized in regional conflicts and negotiations, as China and Russia, among others, have expanded their involvement in the Middle East.

Moreover, the Middle East has been a central focus of the United States’ foreign policy since World War II, driven by economic, strategic, and political interests. These interests include securing access to oil, supporting Israel’s sovereignty, maintaining military bases, defending client-states and friendly regimes, and countering Islamic movements and terrorist groups. However, despite these interests, the United States has been unable to sustain its dominant influence in the region due to the emergence of new actors and shifts in the global economic landscape.

Regional Players 

Regional powers in the Middle East have responded differently to the waning influence of the United States. While some have capitalized on this situation to assert their influence, others have prioritized maintaining their relationships with the United States. Turkey, for instance, has recognized the evolving dynamics of global politics and the need to balance potential threats from unstable regimes like Iran and Iraq. Consequently, Turkey has actively sought to strengthen its relations with the Middle East. However, it is important to note that Turkey’s most significant political relationships still lie with Western countries, as the majority of its commercial exports are directed towards them.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia has long been a staunch ally of the United States, providing military protection and supporting American foreign policy endeavors worldwide. Nevertheless, this alliance has faced strains over the years due to disagreements on various issues, including Israel, oil pricing, and the “War on Terror” campaign. In recent times, Saudi Arabia has taken steps to strengthen its relations with Russia and China, thereby challenging U.S. efforts to isolate these countries.

Qatar, despite being embroiled in a diplomatic crisis with several Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates, has managed to maintain its relationship with the United States. This is particularly significant as the United States maintains a major military base in Qatar.

Iran, on the other hand, has seized the opportunity presented by the U.S. withdrawal from the region to expand its influence in countries like Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. This has resulted in a shift in the balance of power within the region. Additionally, Iran has benefited from the reluctance of many countries to witness the complete withdrawal of the United States from the Middle East.

The Gulf States, while expressing relief at the perceived decline of American interventionism, share similar foreign policy goals with Washington. They are also concerned about the potential consequences of unchecked Iranian behavior. To address these concerns, the Gulf States have actively sought to deepen their engagement with other major powers such as Russia and China. This strategic move allows them to mitigate the risks associated with the changing dynamics in the region.

In conclusion, regional powers in the Middle East have reacted to the waning influence of the United States by asserting their interests, forging new alliances, and preserving their existing relationships with the United States whenever feasible. The evolving geopolitical scenario has presented a considerable obstacle for the United States, necessitating proactive measures to counteract the perception of its diminishing power and ensure its continued prominence in the region.

Zubair Mumtaz

Zubair Mumtaz is a Conflict Analyst and M.Phil. Scholar at National Defence University in Peace & Conflict Studies, specializing in South Asian Conflicts and Conflict Resolution Strategies. He is currently working for Radiant Journal Foundation as a Research Associate, and explores the complexities of regional/Global dynamics, offering insightful perspectives on security issues and conflict.

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