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July 7 2022 11:14 AM ˚
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Rebalancing alliances in the Middle East

Amer sabaileh
Amer Al-Sabaileh is a Jordanian university professor and geopolitical expert. He is a leading columnist in national, regional, and international media, offers consultancies to think tanks and speaks at international conferences on Middle East politics and developments. (Photo: Jordan News)
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The crisis in Ukraine is beginning to leave its mark on the Middle East, and the region is seeing dynamics movements. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad made his first visit to an Arab state; he met the rulers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai this week, breaking a taboo that might pave the way for other visits. Immediately after this visit, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed met with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in Sharm El-Sheikh. اضافة اعلان

According to official statements, the discussions covered global developments and the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on energy, market stability, and food security. However, given the moves the UAE is making, it could be part of an Emirati effort to play the role of peace mediator between Syria and Israel, and to resume the peace talks interrupted in 1997.

The US does not seem to support these efforts; the US State Department said it was "profoundly disappointed and troubled" by Assad's official visit to the UAE. It is not, however, the first policy divergence between the UAE and President Joe Biden’s administration; recently, the Gulf refused to increase oil production in response to the situation in Russia and the Ukraine.

It is important for the US to consider why its old allies are taking a position that differs from its own. During the Trump administration, the UAE enjoyed a privileged position and, in many ways, represented the center of regional political weight. But since Biden took office, there have been radical changes in approach, as attention has switched mainly to Qatar, which is supposed to play a significant role in fulfilling global gas supply needs.

Another critical issue they differ on is the Iran nuclear deal; the UAE and Saudi Arabia wanted to be involved to ensure it was not limited to the nuclear issue, but also covered Iran’s aggressive policies in the region as well as its ballistic missile capacities. In this context, it makes sense that the UAE should take more independent policy positions.
In a post-ideology time distinctly lacking a common doctrine, building alliances will be based on mutual benefits, interests and economic gains.
Other US partners may begin to question their position as well, as American focus and approach change wildly depending on the administration of the day.

Turkey is also starting to play a more important strategic role. As a NATO member, Turkey’s recent policies have aligned with those of the US and NATO. Moreover, the reconciliatory approach Turkey has taken toward Israel and Greece suggests a more realistic and pragmatic Turkish vision.

The role that Turkey can play is fundamental for the US at this stage, but it is yet to be seen if the US is successful in building a longer-term alliance with Turkey, or bringing back any unsatisfied allies.

Recent shifts in global political dynamics will have an impact on all countries. In a post-ideology time distinctly lacking a common doctrine, building alliances will be based on mutual benefits, interests and economic gains. It will be hard to maintain a strong alliance over time, as economic pragmatism and self-interest will take precedence over stable relationships.


The writer is a Jordanian university professor and geopolitical expert. He is a leading columnist in national, regional, and international media, offers consultancies to think tanks and speaks at international conferences on Middle East politics and developments.


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