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July 4 2022 4:04 PM ˚
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Pundit warns against withdrawing US anti-missile units from Jordan

missiles launched stock photo
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NEW YORK — A US-based Middle East analysis and commentator has warned against withdrawing US anti-missile batteries from Jordan, arguing that the Kingdom is undergoing a time when it needs to remain stable amid a bundle of challenges at various levels. اضافة اعلان

The Pentagon has confirmed that the Biden administration will be accelerating its efforts to reduce US force levels in the Middle East. On Friday, June 18th, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Pentagon will be withdrawing eight anti-missile batteries and hundreds of US troops stationed across Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Kuwait.

Ibrahim Al-Assil, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington warns in remarks to Jordan News that the security situation in Jordan is especially vulnerable to this, emphasizing that a deterioration in its security situation will massively affect the entire region. He states, “It’s very important to keep Jordan stable. Jordan at this moment is going through a lot of social, economic, and political challenges that the US needs to work closely with.” He adds, “The stability of Jordan is very crucial at this point. It is a place of asylum for millions of refugees that came from all across the region. ”

Former US Ambassador to the United Nations and foreign policy strategist Nancy Soderberg emphasizes in an interview with Jordan News the need for the US to devote the proper time and resources to combat how these actions negatively impact its reputation among its regional allies, stating, “The US will need to couple this action with engaged diplomacy” to make things clear to US regional allies.

However, Al-Assil Al-Assil believes that the significance of this move should not be overstated, as the most important military decisions will come once the Biden administration and the Pentagon finish their review of US military posture in the region in approximately one month. According to the expert, “this is where we’re going to be able to really understand the doctrine of Biden – where he wants to go, how he wants to be engaged in the region.”

The question of how the US will manage its withdrawal with respect to its regional allies’ perceptions has yet to be answered, but it is nearly certain that it will have significant long-term implications on the broader geopolitical context of the Middle East.

Pentagon spokesperson Cmdr. Jessica McNulty released a statement confirming the administration's plans for ramping up withdrawal efforts from the region in a statement: “The Secretary of Defense directed the Commander of US Central Command to remove from the region this summer certain forces and capabilities, primarily air defense assets.”

McNulty added, “Some of these assets will be returned to the United States for much needed maintenance and repair. Some of them will be redeployed to other regions. This decision was made in close coordination with host nations and with a clear eye on preserving our ability to meet our security commitments.”

With regards to the short-term tactical implications of the withdrawals with respect to broader regional instability, Al-Assil suggests that they are unlikely to produce any direct military consequences for the affected countries. He sees the US decision as a culmination of three tactical calculations determined by the Biden administration: (1) Its allies are adequately equipped to face new potential military challenges on their own, (2) there has been a decrease in the risk of war with Iran, (3) and the withdrawn equipment did not help US partners and allies to face the threats they were intended to help with because the main threat for US allies in the region is no longer conventional, but now comes from asymmetric, non-state actors and drone attacks.

Although Al-Asil believes that the decision itself was driven by tactical reasons, he emphasizes the importance of the non-tactical consequences, specifically with regards to the negative implications of how the US is perceived by its regional allies and how this could ultimately deteriorate the existing bilateral relationships. He states, “Sometimes the perception is the reality, or the only reality.”

The recent force reductions were made public less than one week after President Joe Biden’s meeting with NATO allies at the first NATO summit of his presidency. There, President Biden rallied his foreign counterparts to unify in the face of “new challenges” posed by China and Russia, signaling a fundamental realignment of US foreign policy priorities toward tackling these external threats and away from the Middle East.

The move reflects a continuation of a trend in US foreign policy that began with President Barack Obama and continued on through the Trump administration with a series of events involving the US withdrawing its support and reducing its presence in the region.

Prior to taking office, the Biden administration expressed a desire to place Middle East policy on the backburner of its list of foreign policy priorities. In the months leading up to the US presidential election, current US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated, “As a matter of time allocation and budget priorities, I think we would be doing less, not more in the Middle East.” In his brief tenure thus far, Biden has taken deliberate action to gradually shift energy and resources away from the Middle East, a stance that has not gone unnoticed by leaders and citizens throughout the region.

Kevin McGrath, geopolitical risk analyst and author of Confronting Al Qaeda: New Strategies to Combat Terrorism, sees the decision as a reflection of a fundamental realignment of US foreign policy to meet the new challenges posed by Russian aggression and China’s rising global influence. He states, “It appears the administration is realigning US efforts beyond post-9/11, Middle East-based terrorism that emphasized military force to better address great power competition via multiple tools of national power.” McGrath notes the outlines of this approach are still emerging, but that any new foreign policy paradigm will still have to account for already existing threats when rebalancing the application and focus of American political, economic, and military power.

This shift in the US toward new national security priorities, he added, presents an opportunity for its adversaries to take advantage of to advance their own security interests in the region, risking instability within nations and across the region as a whole.

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