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US Trapped in a Complex Web of Mideast Geopolitics

The Biden administration is currently considering a ground-breaking proposal that could reshape the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East: offering a formal security guarantee to Saudi Arabia in exchange for Riyadh's commitment to develop a civilian nuclear program and normalize relations with Israel.

This potential move by the United States has raised significant concerns and prompted intense debate. While proponents argue that it serves American national security interests, it is essential to recognize that such a deal with Saudi Arabia could be a disastrous miscalculation.

Saudi Arabia's quest for increased security commitments in exchange for normalizing relations with Israel should be viewed in the context of a broader geopolitical strategy. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman seeks to exploit Washington's apprehension about losing influence in the Middle East to rival powers, notably Russia and China. This approach reflects a deliberate attempt to leverage America's fear of diminishing regional dominance into policy concessions.

While Russia and China have indeed expanded their presence in the Middle East, neither nation can fill the void left by the US nor are they eager to do so. Regional states recognize these limitations and have astutely used this situation to their advantage, creating a form of "reverse leverage." Saudi Arabia and other US regional partners have capitalized on America's anxieties about losing its strategic position and, as a result, are pushing for substantial policy concessions.

At the heart of this geopolitical maneuvering lies the Abraham Accords, a series of normalization agreements between Israel and Arab states initiated during the Trump administration. While these accords were hailed as a major diplomatic achievement, they have evolved into a tool for regional actors to entangle the United States further in Middle East affairs. Rather than purely serving US interests, these agreements have been interpreted as mechanisms to maintain the regional status quo, with US security guarantees reinforcing it.

Saudi Arabia's potential entry into the Abraham Accords exemplifies this strategy. Riyadh views it as an opportunity to exert pressure on the US to grant sweeping concessions and secure Washington's commitment as its long-term protector. This not only perpetuates Washington's role as the guarantor of regional security but also complicates US foreign policy in the region.

The United States faces a crucial decision. It must evaluate whether it should continue underwriting actors like Saudi Arabia and perpetuating the artificial status quo in the Middle East or recognize the shortcomings of its policies and limit its involvement to align with its core national interests. Engaging in nuclear cooperation with Saudi Arabia under the current circumstances would risk entrapping the US in a complex web of regional geopolitics that may not align with its values and long-term objectives.


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