IssuesMotivated for Choosing the StudyWhile Arab countries are going through massivepolitical change, the role of the United States in the Middle East region ischanging.
The political ties between the US and the newly emerging democraciesare likely to be weaker than has been the case under dictatorship. At the sametime, tensions between the US and Iran are rising and getting close to aboiling point. To explorethe potential outcomes of these developments and to come up with possibilitiesfor reducing the tensions in the region more effectively, one needs to examinehow the interests and strategies of the actors involved have shaped theirmulti-lateral interactions. Thus, thequestions are: What are the objectives of the United States in the Middle East?How do those objectives interact with the interestsof different countries in the region; in particular, those of America’s biggestadversary, Iran, and the closest US ally, Israel? What are the options of these stakeholders inavoiding tension and unnecessary conflict? How are therecent political developments in Arab countries influencing these relations andthe possible outcomes?There is a vast literature that examines the abovequestions from various angles across the field of international relations. This project is an attempt to address thesequestions jointly in an interdisciplinary context, taking into account theeconomic as well as political dimensions of the US relationships with MiddleEastern countries in the global context.
The project particularly highlightsthe role of Iran, Israel, and the GCC in these relationships.Originand NatureInterestsand Strategies of the Key PlayersUSInterests and Strategies US businessesand consumers have a keen interest in ensuring a reliable and efficient flow ofoil. While they mostly prefer lower oil prices, they understand that little canbe done to control the price when it is market driven. However, they areconcerned about supply disruptions and potential holdups by major producers. Todeal with this concern, US policymakers find it necessary to maintain militaryand political presence in the Persian Gulf area to ensure that trade routesremain open and the oil-rich countries there have “friendly” governments. Theyare also keen to keep out potential rivals (e.
g., Russians, who havehistorically tried to extend their influence in the region). Israel’sInterests and Strategies Turning toIsrael’s objectives and characteristics, there are a number of issues that needto be listed. To begin with, Israel has been important for Jews generallyaround the world as a focal point and symbol of identity. So, they sympathizewith its cause and want to see it survive and prosper. However, realizing thisgoal has been a challenge. Formation of Israel was associated with a great dealof violence and dispossession of a large part of Palestinian population.
Consequently, despite the fact that peoples of different ethnicities andreligions had lived together in that area relatively peacefully for centuries,Arabs came to see Jewish settlers as their enemies.Iran’sInterests and Strategies Iran’s utmostinterest in its external relations emerges from its need to ensure the securityof its territory and its natural resources (and their marketing options),especially oil, gas, and marine resources. Some of these resources are sharedacross Iran’s borders with its neighbors and have been subject of dispute in thepast. Iran also suffers from a long history of superpower intervention andmanipulation, aimed at gaining leverage over and its policies and resources. Attimes foreign forces have invaded parts of Iran or have supported external orinternal proxies to destabilize the country.Interestsand Strategies of Other Major Players: The EUThe EU’s interests and strategies in Middle Easternregion are similar to those of the US.
However, the EU’s interests are muchmore focused on economic issues, with the non-oil components also havingsomewhat more weight. The EU has a particular interest in helping the MiddleEast develop economically and politically so that the immigration pressure fromthe region would diminish. In terms of strategic difference, the EU countriesfocus more on the North Africa region, while the US is more focused on militarypresence in the Persian Gulf, where it is the dominant foreign power