The Shifting American Interest in the Middle East and Islamdom

The perception of the American interest in the Middle East is shifting. Once was the American interest in the Gulf in supporting Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states based almost entirely on the provision of oil to America by the Gulf states. America is no longer dependent on Gulf oil since America is now energy independent, yet it is still an American interest to prevent Iran from taking over the Gulf states with its oil wells since this would transform Iran into a superpower and America is completely opposed to the rise of further superpowers. In approximately a decade all new cars and trucks will run on electricity only and nations economically dependent on the export of oil will have to transition to a post-oil economy.

The Gulf States recognize this reality and therefore no longer trust America. What interest will America have in supporting the monarchic Gulf states in the post-oil era? Not much to put things mildly. Due to this shift of US interests in the Middle East do the Gulf states welcome the US outsourcing most of its superpower duties in the Middle East to its close ally Israel as was the plan of the Trump administration. Is this also the intention of the Biden administration? This is less clear. The Gulf states wonder what are the strategic intentions of the Biden administration and bemoan its lack of continuity with the policies of the Trump administration which were very popular among Gulf leaders.   

The Gulf states want not only weapons deliveries but also clear American commitments in return for normalizing with Israel. Israel wants military integration with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and other Gulf states but wants relations to be cemented with diplomatic normalization and regional economic integration so as to make sure that the KSA and other Gulf states at some point in the future do not turn against Israel and become enemies of Israel once more. Mutual investments and mutual trade will effectively ensure that the common interests also become economic in nature, something that Israel is particularly keen on before exporting advanced defense technologies to the KSA. The Gulf states are also interested in normalizing relations with Israel – including deep economic integration – but first want incentives, i.e. agreements on advanced weapons deliveries and strategic commitments from the United States.

Israel is highly dependent on the US and Israel certainly prefers the US over China as its main strategic ally. America is losing interest in not only the Middle East but in Islamdom generally which is seen as much trouble but little gain for the United States. Israel is in the midst of a cold war with Iran over which country will be the sole great power in Islamdom. Muslim countries around the world feel profoundly threatened by Iran and therefore are interested in normalizing and aligning with Israel due to America’s waning interest in Islamdom and this is the reason why even Indonesia is interested in normalization with Israel. Most Muslims countries are vehemently opposed to Iran becoming a superpower and the hegemon of the Muslim world and Israel is the best hope for preventing that dystopia from becoming reality.

Israel in contrast to Iran is not interested in dominating the Muslim world but nevertheless is ready for the US outsourcing most of its super power duties in the Middle East specifically and Islamdom generally to Israel. The Muslim world does not wanted to be dominated by China and needs a protector that is not China or Russia. Hence the keen interest in the Muslim world for normalizing relations and aligning with Israel. First however, do these countries of Islamdom want to cement relations with the United States and want assurances that America will continue to deliver advanced weaponry.

Israel is America’s most reliable ally worldwide and both nations are interested in cementing relations between them for perpetuity. America delegating much of its superpower duties in the Middle East specifically and Islamdom generally to Israel would certainly cement the special relationship between America and Israel. 

America is severely overstretched and its focus on the great power competition with China means that the US will need to outsource much of its superpower duties to allies that can be trusted with defending American interests on America’s behalf. It is scandalous that the Europeans remain so militarily dependent on the US to the point that Europe is unable to defend itself in a hypothetical future war with Russia without US participation. America is today less interested in fighting the wars of others and wants allies of America to become collectively militarily self-sufficient. Israel is a model in this regard.

The lack of continuity with Trump era policies in the Biden administration along with the Biden administration’s improvised retreat from Afghanistan has created a severe credibility deficit for America in the Middle East specifically and in Islamdom generally. Muslim countries are happy with the US subcontracting much of its super power role in Islamdom to Israel but first want provision of advanced weaponry and the cementing of relations with America. This is entirely understandable and America will need to step up and provide those material and immaterial goods to friendly nations of the Middle East and Islamdom generally.

Published by Daniella Bartfeld

Daniella Bartfeld is the founding director of the Aliyah Organization.

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