The United States absence at Sir Bani Yas Forum, did not go unnoticed. During the two-and-a-half day interactive discussion, participants debated the changing strategic landscape in the Middle East, the ongoing repercussions from the Arab Spring, prospects for the Middle East Peace Process, and other current issues. Participants suspected that the US was AWOL (absence without official leave), which was very inconvenient considering the current events in the Middle East. It may seem that America is “over” the Middle East, or losing interest in the Middle East. Participants were reminded that the United States’ permanent involvement in world affairs was only a few decades old, and that the US isolates themselves from involvement in foreign affairs. One of the key points of debate was to what extent Washington’s commitment to regional stability would be affected by trends like rising US energy self-sufficiency and the policy of a “pivot” towards Asia.
Obama’s first trip after being reelected was to Southeast Asia. No one is upset that the United States is favoring their attention to Asia but it could be viewed as an attempt to turn away from our regions difficult problems. Bearing in mind Obama’s attempt in the Middle East peace process about 3 years ago, people believe that Obama is hesitant to get involved again. Some think American Policy needs to be “rebalanced” especially sense there really is no force within the White House or State Department focusing their efforts on the Middle East. The United States is becoming more independent from the Middle East’s’ oil supply, therefore the United States is no longer interested. If the US were to get involved in the Middle East and really step in, what would happen? Most people think that nothing good could come from the US stepping in.
Is it just an illusion to think that America will not continue to be drawn into Middle East affairs? Events that occur in the Middle East and Asia affect the world. If Iran were to acquire a nuclear weapon, it will not only affect the Middle East, but the entire world. The relationship of Islam and Democracy that is being tested out in Egypt will affect politics all over the Islamic world. What if Syria collapses? There is a large possibility that powerful terrorist groups will get a better angle towards a nation that has the worlds largest chemical weapons supply.
Historically, the United States has been able to provide security while remaining engaged in Europe, Asia and the Middle East; and today, these three theatres are more interrelated than ever.The world is no longer divided into distinct regions as it seemed to have been previously. It is extremely difficult for the United States to fade the importance of the Middle East and Europe, while “pivoting” towards Asia as all three regions are interconnected economically and strategically.
Should the US step in and focus their efforts towards the Middle East?
Would it cause more problems for the Middle East or the United States if they were to step in?
What other options does the United States have for the Middle East? Give more money? Send troops?