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The US administration’s assessment of its major interests in the region

Dr. Ali al-Kheshaiban

Published: Updated:

The US will not be able to resist the political and international attractiveness of the Middle East, given the major economic and political transformations expected ahead. Perhaps Gaza’s issue has been the perfect example that the US is no longer able to make sure that its actions will ultimately preserve its position as a globally influential power in the world.

The recent Israeli-Palestinian events have prompted the US administration to abandon its direct intervention in the regional issues. In this context, President Biden was compelled to make direct calls with the region’s leaders after having successfully avoided Middle Eastern topics during his first days in the White House. The US administration reluctantly issued political statements on these events, thus further moving towards political engagement in Gaza’s issue and exposing the approach of Biden’s administration in dealing with the region, especially that Gaza’s events gave President Biden a first different taste of the Palestinian cause pursuant to the American political reality left behind by former President Trump.

Hamas’s involvement in the Palestinian cause and its attempt to undermine the Palestinian authority by claiming defending al-Aqsa, both added new dimensions to the conflict. When Hamas thanked Iran directly for its support in the war against Israel, confusion intensified among Arab politicians and people. While the cause seems fair when it comes to the rights of Palestinians, its tools are complicated and perplexed from the following perspective: who should represent the cause in the Palestinian geographical space? Gaza’s crisis has emphasized the ideological perspective of the cause by triggering a Sunni-Shia competition, thus weaponizing the cause to fuel more conflicts instead of capitalizing on it to bring solutions.

The US administration got this big picture with extreme confusion in much the same way as did the region, but its position seems much more scattered. While it condemns Hamas practices as a terrorist organization receiving its weapons from Iran, the US administration seeks also to conclude a new agreement with the Iranian regime. Additionally, Biden’s administration is perfectly aware of the unequal opportunities between Israel and Hamas, and of Israel’s ability to resort to many practices and decisions that can easily quell Gaza if it weren’t for the recent political developments in the region and the world that have proven that deterrence is not the only valid option to achieve stability and have the political upper hand.

The US administration came face to face with important questions on this front, especially that the old ways of dealing with the Arab region in general, and the Palestinian cause in particular, have become more complex than ever. Standing with Israel is no longer the only option for the US government. The international public opinion, whether in US or Europe, has started to weigh in and restore some balance towards the Palestinian cause, with growing voices demanding justice for the Palestinians from within the US administration itself. The two-state solution is resurfacing, adopted by President Biden despite Israel’s opposition. In fact, the US administration has started thinking seriously about the balance of power in the region, and the need to decrease tensions by imposing rights instead of begging for them.

The US’s involvement in the region under Biden’s administration has been marked by extreme confusion following Gaza’s crisis. The biggest question on the table now is, to what extent can the US, who is seeking to leave the region, actually contribute to stability and power balance there? Addressing this question should take into account that American interests are no longer confined to Israel as its only historical ally in the region and that Biden’s administration is seeking to tame Iran’s nuclear ambitions that have the potential of upsetting the balance of power in the region.

The US, along with China and Russia, are imposing alarming changes to power dynamics and tools, and are significantly impacting the international order. This further complicates international relations and increases disrespect of international laws. Furthermore, these three major powers all share intersecting interests in the Middle East, especially amid the growing ambiguity of their respective intentions regarding the region and their future political roles there. But what is also undeniable is that the world is witnessing the decaying role and interests of the US in the region.

The US will not be able to resist the political and international attractiveness of the Middle East, given the major economic and political transformations expected ahead. Perhaps Gaza’s issue has been the perfect example that the US is no longer able to make sure that its actions will ultimately preserve its position as a globally influential power in the world.

This article was originally published in, and translated from, Saudi Arabian outlet al-Riyadh.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.