Middle East Burden Sharing

(Council on Foreign Relations) Ray Takeyh - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reasserted U.S. priorities in the Middle East in his speech last week at the American University in Cairo. Pompeo identified the U.S.' enemies as radical Islam and Iran and its chief allies as Israel and the Sunni Arab states. Pompeo said the U.S. has come to the Middle East to choose sides and not reconcile age-old adversaries. His comments were also seen as a gesture of reassurance for allies worried about the U.S. troop drawdown underway in Syria. However, the speech should be looked at as a signal of serious U.S. intent to share the responsibility of stabilizing the Middle East with its allies. Pompeo praised the U.S. lessening its footprint in both Iraq and Saudi Arabia since the height of the Iraq war. Neither U.S. political party is inclined to commit vast sums of blood and treasure to steady the region. This means that allies such as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel will have to do much of the heavy lifting in the Middle East, such as countering the Islamic State and funding reconstruction in Iraq and Yemen. The U.S. will furnish arms, intelligence, and special forces to address threats in the region, but it will rely on the manpower of local actors. The writer is a senior fellow at CFR.

2019-01-15 00:00:00

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