The Middle East is a source of strategic importance for the U.S. It is also home to some of the most dynamic and important regional and international players. With so many actors, the likelihood of conflict within this narrow space is high. To help mitigate the risk, the U.S. needs to continue to work toward a landscape of stability. To that end, the U.S. should work to strengthen its strategic partnerships in the region. But partnerships alone will not be sufficient. To tackle the challenges it faces, the U.S. needs to look beyond its borders. It should expand its strategic capabilities in the Middle East.
A region of instability
The instability in the Middle East has been characterized by several decades of often devastating conflict. This has led to terrible human rights abuses, the destruction of cultural and religious sites, and the displacement of more than 60 million people. In the past, the region was known for its stability. But that has changed as a result of the regional and international upheaval described above. It is now a source of instability, and the United States has a responsibility to shape the postwar order in a way that maintains stability.
The Middle East: A source of instability
The key source of instability in the Middle East is the country at the center of it all: Israel. The 1948 Arab-Israeli War, in which Israel fought its first battle against its occupiers, resulted in the cornerstone of the Israeli defense system: the Defense Wall. Over the years, the wall has been altered and breached, but its original purpose remains just as important today as it was then: to protect the country from Galilee’s terrorist threats. The same can be said for the Israeli-Lebanese, Syrian, and Iranian borders.
The opportunities in the Middle East
Despite the challenges it faces, the Middle East has enormous potential as an asset for the U.S. The region has a huge youth population, a vast pool of resources, and a rich heritage. The region also has a long history of innovation and creativity, making it a source of inspiration and leadership for the developed world. The opportunities in the Middle East include possibilities for economic growth and progress, for democracy and human rights, for energy security and for the reduction of global threats.
Key partners in the Middle East
As the heartland of the Islamic world and the gateway to the Mediterranean, the Middle East has great importance for the U.S. However, the importance of this region must be set against the corresponding responsibilities. To maintain security, stability, and prosperity in the region, the U.S. must be a key partner. What follows is a list of key partners in the Middle East, organized by region.
Building a robust regional security architecture
A strong regional security architecture — one that includes the U.S. — is essential to mitigating the risks posed by the volatile region. This architecture could include confidence-building measures, such as joint exercises, and the maintenance of a military presence that protects American interests. The United States also plays an important role as the regional administrator of the United Nations. The U.S. also has a vital interest in seeing regional states maintain peace and stability, and it plays a critical role in doing so through its relationship with Israel.
The opportunities and challenges inherent to the region require a greater focus on stability and security. This can be achieved through partnerships, but it will require a shift in U.S. strategy that prioritizes these goals. The United States must work to strengthen its strategic partnerships in the region, but it must also expand its strategic capabilities in the Middle East. This shift in strategy will require a different approach to the country’s foreign policymaking, one that identifies and prioritizes priorities based on their ability to promote stability and security in the region.