Egypt and Jordan want to try to wean Syria and Iraq, the two pillars of the Arab state system, away from Shia Iran. Egypt also wants to export its gas to Lebanon, and cash-strapped Jordan wants to re-establish once-lucrative trade relations with Syria. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have even taken their relations with Turkey out of the freeze, hoping to bring it back into the regional fold as a Sunni counterweight to Iran.
Iran, however, likely believes that the United States, while maintaining sanctions, has lost the courage for military action to curb Tehran’s efforts to enrich enough uranium to become a nuclear-weapon state. .
“The United States is not withdrawing entirely, but is withdrawing, and all of its Sunni Arab partners are now acting to protect themselves – and to stabilize the region – at a time when the United States will no longer be dominant there.” , argued Martin Indyk, a longtime American envoy to the Middle East, whose new book, “Master of the Game: Henry Kissinger and the Art of Middle East Diplomacy,” is a compelling tale of how United have used peacemaking to supplant the Soviet Union as the dominant foreign power in the region. “But the United States will still be needed to deter Iran if it develops a nuclear capability – and to defuse other conflicts.”
But the power to shape this region takes many forms.
In keeping with the theme of Indyk’s book, I would say that just as we once supplanted the Soviets as the dominant modeler in the region, Mother Nature is now supplanting America as the dominant force.
In Mother Nature’s Middle East, leaders will not be judged on their resistance to one another or to great powers, but on the resilience they are building for their people and nations as the world gradually phase out fuels. fossils, at a time when all Arab-Muslim states have booming populations under the age of 30 and at a time of intensifying climate change.
The United Nations recently reported that Afghanistan has been hit by the worst drought in more than 30 years. It is crushing farmers, driving up food prices and putting 18.8 million Afghans – nearly half the population – food insecure. Over to you, Mr. Taliban: you broke it, you own it.
In addition to the stress of Covid-19, Iran experienced deadly water riots in its parched southwest last summer – and its climate is expected to become hotter and drier. Egypt is trying to cope with a rising Mediterranean pushing salty seawater into the irrigation systems of its Nile Delta granary. Egypt and Ethiopia could actually go to war over the water retention dam that Ethiopia has built upstream of the Nile.