Implications of U.S. Disengagement from the Middle East

(Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University) Efraim Inbar - The U.S. is retreating from the Middle East. The implications of this policy shift include the acceleration of Tehran's drive to regional hegemony, the palpable risk of regional nuclear proliferation following the nuclear deal with Iran, and the spread of jihadist Islam. The new perception of the U.S. administration as a vacillating ally weakens Israel's deterrence. In addition, Washington's attempt to compensate its Arab allies for the Iranian nuclear deal by providing them with the latest state-of-the-art weapons erodes Israel's qualitative advantage. Washington's disengagement appears to close the book on the longstanding U.S. support for democratic movements around the world and undermines the relatively small and weak pro-democratic forces in the Arab world. The prospect of regime change in Iran has faded as challengers to the mullahs see little hope of getting substantial assistance from Washington. Washington's reluctance to confront Tehran on the nuclear issue sends the message that nuclear aspirants need not fear direct U.S. intervention, despite stated commitments to counter-proliferation. In addition, states that are ready to sell sensitive technologies are now less deterred by Washington from doing so. One can already see increased cooperation between North Korea and Iran. U.S. weakness in the Middle East will inevitably have ripple effects in other parts of the globe. Its credibility is now subject to question, and allies elsewhere may determine that it would be wise to hedge their bets and look elsewhere for support. The writer, director of the BESA Center for Strategic Studies, is professor emeritus at Bar-Ilan University.

2016-07-27 00:00:00

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