The Middle East is not a priority for the US – that is not a sign of weakness

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Two significant events that occurred in different parts of the world in August and September aptly describe current American foreign policy: the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the start of the AUKUS trilateral security pact with the United Kingdom and Australia to counter China. While many commentators have focused primarily on the impact of this pact on US-French relations, they have missed the big picture: The US is busy restructuring its power in the global arena, and it is not becoming anyone, including narrow ones Partner, let enter his way.

Current developments are rooted in long-term American policies aimed at combating China in the multipolar world. All other projects, such as the “Eternal Wars”, which were originally intended to advance the democratic state-building and regime change, are now officially abandoned. Israel, whose security is closely tied to the American presence in the Middle East, should take note of this and prepare for the future.

One day after US forces completed their troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, refugees board a bus on their arrival at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, USA, on September 1, 2021, which will take them to a processing center. (Photo credit: REUTERS / KEVIN LAMARQUE)

All eyes on China

Alon Pinkas, who served as Israeli Consul General in New York, as well [a] Political advisor to former Prime Minister Ehud Barak and political advisor to the late President Shimon Peres, was not surprised by recent US moves in Afghanistan or towards Australia, Britain and France.

Pinkas believes the swift withdrawal of the armed forces from Afghanistan was necessary for the US to focus on its top priorities, while the creation of AUKUS was an essential step in that direction.

“Of course the French are crazy because they lost their contracts and their status,” Pinkas told The Media Line. “But the Australians have been saying for two years that they are not satisfied with the French submarines that [is] not nuclear powered. The Australians recently had a revelation when China targeted their goods as a means of “economic punishment” after Canberra called for a COVID-19 investigation. The Chinese presented them with the list of pre-cuff requirements. The Americans were ready to leave nuclear technology to a non-nuclear country, but demanded that the Australians give up the French treaties. Basically, the US is showing the Chinese that they are doing exactly what they have promised and strengthening their alliances. ”

The US, Australia and New Zealand are also partners in ANZUS, a non-binding collective security agreement signed in 1951 between Australia and New Zealand and separately between Australia and the United States and forged to cooperate on military matters in the Pacific Ocean.

Not only President Joe Biden, but former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump also did their own thing to shift focus from the troubled Middle East to Asia and the Pacific. Unlike Obama, however, Biden seems determined not to let the drama in the Middle East drag him down into regional affairs, and unlike Trump, he forms alliances and uses international organizations like NATO and pacts like AUKUS to pursue his goal support financially.

The Israeli Dilemma

By the end of the year, the US will also pull out of Iraq – although it is likely to leave behind a contingent of military advisors and continue to support the Iraqi government, and it is clear that many Middle Eastern governments, including Israel and the Arab Gulf states, have the feeling that the situation is changing quickly and not in their favor.

In the past few months, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, all realizing that the US withdrawal from the Middle East is a done deal, have reconciled with Qatar and embarked on a gradual reconciliation process with Turkey and Iran. However, Israel is in a different strategic situation. It is worrying that Iran could soon go nuclear and intensify its malicious activities near the Israeli border. While Saudi Arabia and the UAE can afford a cautious reconciliation with Iran or Turkey, Israel fears that the US departure will encourage Iran and Turkey, as well as other radical Islamic forces in the region.

“When the US is less focused on the Middle East, other great powers fill the vacuum, [as] it happened in Syria. The US is hardly in the picture there, while the Iranians are signing treaties with China. It is clear why Israel is concerned. She needs to make sure the US step up its diplomatic efforts even if there are no boots on the ground. The administration is perfectly capable of both walking and speaking, and they don’t. Only now is the newly appointed US ambassador to Israel confirmed while so many things are happening and the Americans are absent, ”Nadav Tamir, executive director of J Street Israel and former diplomatic advisor to the late President Shimon Peres, told The Media Administration.

Tamir thinks it is advisable to maintain good connections with all major world powers, but he says there is no substitute for the USA.

In recent months, the new Israeli government under Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has made significant efforts to re-establish good relations with the Democratic Party, which was in ruins during the reign of his predecessor Binyamin Netanyahu; However, the recent development in Congress, in which House Democrats removed a provision to fund Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defense system from a government bill, is a sign of the changing times.

“Israel will get the Iron Domes as this struggle in Congress was a product of internal political tension rather than a strategic change of policy, and yet we must understand that it will be more difficult for the Democrats if nothing happens in the Palestinian way.” and US support for Israel.

Israel needs the USA; it cannot afford to despair and just let go. Neither Russia nor China are our geopolitical partners, ”said Tamir.

The discussion about changing American global strategy is fierce and ongoing. For some critics of the current administration, it is appropriate to portray the departure from the Middle East as a defeat and a weakening of American positions, as this process weakens their own position in the region.

In the two decades since the fall of the Soviet Union, the US felt comfortable in a world where Russia was weak and China was remote and insignificant. During those two decades, US engagement in the Middle East had peaked. Today, when the world is no longer unipolar, the USA, still the strongest country in the world, is fighting for its interests on other strategic fronts. However, the global power competition does not stop at the Indo-Pacific; it also extends to the Middle East.

The ability of the US government to balance its global political action, including its military and diplomatic activities, will shape the future of this region and the well-being of its strategic regional partners, Israel and the Arab states.


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