Since former President Barack Obama announced a U.S. pivot toward Asia, Gulf Arab leaders have perceived that the United States is withdrawing from the region. This is prompting Gulf Arab states to turn to other powers, principally Russia and, to a lesser extent, China. While the level of U.S. interest and involvement in the region can be debated, and a new administration reconfigures how it engages with partners and adversaries in the Middle East, the Gulf region is becoming increasingly multipolar. How is this reality affecting partnerships and alliances in the region? How are regional and local actors positioning themselves? Will there be increased Gulf Arab security cooperation following the Al Ula summit? Have the Abraham Accords reshaped regional alliances in the face of regional threats?
Mapping the Middle East in 2021
Regional Influences on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Following the Abraham Accords
The Abraham Accords came as a major blow to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian national movement more broadly. The movement has tied its strategy for years to the Arab Peace Initiative, which committed Arab states to diplomatic openings with Israel based on a two-state solution and an end to the occupation that began in 1967. What do the accords mean for Israeli-Palestinian relations? Will these developments fundamentally alter Palestinian strategic calculations or simply expose existing weaknesses? Will the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain be able or inclined to use their new relations with Israel on behalf of Palestinian interests? How does this affect domestic Palestinian and Israeli politics? Is there a new opening on Palestinian issues for regional powers, such as Iran or Turkey, or does this mainly strengthen coalitions opposing their agendas?
The Abraham Accords: A Buffer Against Turkish and Iranian Influence?
The normalization process between Israel and Gulf Arab states opens up new diverse opportunities for strategic collaborations. Many in Israel and Gulf Arab capitals see the top political-security priority for relations as a strategic realignment and the creation of a broad regional front against the two non-Arab powers, Iran and Turkey. Do the Abraham Accords signify a combined attempt of Arab Sunni states and Israel to balance Iranian Shia regional influence? Does the same thinking apply vis-a-vis Turkish influence in the region?
The Biden Foreign Policy Agenda
President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s Middle East priorities are becoming clearer: His statements and the special envoys he has appointed give primacy to Iran and Yemen. What are the implications of Biden’s evolving Middle East agenda? And what do the administration’s moves over the last few months indicate for the next three years?
The Implications of the U.S.-China Global Competition for the Middle East
The Middle East, including the oil-rich Gulf countries, is a key part of the Belt and Road Initiative that is crucial to China’s energy supply and trade ties with the rest of the world. Over the past decade, China’s relationships with the countries of the Middle East, especially the Gulf states, have rapidly grown beyond energy sales. China’s increased interest in the Middle East has also come at a time when the United States is perceived as pulling back from the region and is seemingly more concerned with global competition with China. What are the implications for the Middle East of U.S.-China competition? As China becomes increasingly involved in the region, can it afford to remain uninterested in contributing to the stability of the Middle East? How do countries like Israel and the Gulf states see China’s involvement in the region?
Through its careful examination of the forces shaping the evolution of Gulf societies and the new generation of emerging leaders, AGSIW facilitates a richer understanding of the role the countries in this key geostrategic region can be expected to play in the 21st century.Learn More