America and the contemporary Middle East

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Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

China International Strategy Review

Publication Date





Relations between America and Middle Eastern states have shifted substantially since World War II, with perspectives on either side coalescing around security and geopolitical pillars, as well as economic interest. For America, that has meant meeting its energy needs, and for the Middle East, it has involved direct and indirect economic support. Arab and non-Arab Middle Eastern states alike have recognized this evolving relationship and the increasing role America would play in the region, rather than the once-influential Soviet Union. Over the years, this power relationship has changed alongside the geopolitical and security pillars, to create a bigger role for America in its relations with many states in the region. In recent decades, another shift took place, with a trend toward American disengagement in the Middle East. The American security prism in the region has shifted from being region-centric to being compartmentalized sub-regionally such as in the Gulf, or even nation-specific, such as with Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey, which is still a NATO member. Further, American dependence on oil decreased. The security and economic pillars of the Middle Eastern mindset, in the context of relations with America, have also shifted and continue to do so. Both sides have shifted their gaze to Asia. America’s interests in the region will continue, even if at lower levels, just as the Middle East will not turn a blind eye to America. Developments hint at future relations that hinge on security parameters, with economic demands and interests entering into the equation when circumstances permit.

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