U.S. President Joe Biden, who came into office seeking to do “less not more” in the Middle East, is increasingly using the focus on China as an excuse to again do more in the region. But using the “great power competition” frame to justify and shape U.S. engagement in the Middle East is unrealistic and likely counterproductive.
In the wake of Joe Biden’s Middle East visit in mid-July, some U.S. officials suggested that critics of the trip should reserve judgement until they see the “deliverables” agreed upon by the regional leaders Biden met with. Hopefully many such deliverables do materialize, beginning with reviving the multilateral Iran nuclear deal.
The struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia has insinuated itself into nearly every regional issue, fracturing international alliances and sustaining wars across the region, while raising fears of a direct conflict between the two powers. Meanwhile, the region is rife with ongoing conflicts, and the long-simmering dispute between Israel and Palestine continues to flare up periodically.