Destabilizing speculation

New US National Security Strategy Requires Stronger Regional Ties

New US National Security Strategy Requires Stronger Regional Ties

The Biden administration released its first national security strategy on Wednesday, focused on countering China’s influence and reining in Russia. According to reports, the strategy had to be significantly revised in light of the war in Ukraine and growing tensions with China, which delayed the publication of the report by several months.

While Russia and China dominate the report, garnering more than 120 mentions together, the 48-page document is quite comprehensive, covering issues such as food security, terrorism, arms control, pandemics, climate, cyberspace, technology and corruption. In terms of geography, this gives insight into the thinking of the United States on most parts of the world. Much has been made of the US downplaying the Middle East and the Gulf, but the region appeared about 20 times in the report, far more frequently than traditional areas of US interest, such as Latin America. or the Caribbean, Japan, Korea or Australia. Basically, very little seems to have changed in US policy towards the Middle East and the Gulf, with the exception of the Palestine/Israel conflict, where the Biden administration is reverting to more traditional US positions. And drawing lessons from the failed war in Iraq, the Biden administration is pushing for a more practical and nuanced approach to the region that deserves support.

The National Security Strategy was designed to communicate the national security vision of the United States — an exercise mandated by law in 1986 — to be sent by the President to Congress. The report should include a discussion of U.S. international interests, commitments, objectives, and policies, as well as the defense capabilities needed to deter threats and implement security plans. Jurisdictions differ in how often they send these assessments. For example, President Clinton sent out seven reports during his eight years in office, while President Obama sent out only two. This year’s report is the first published by President Biden.

While the strategy does not betray substantial changes in US policy toward the Gulf region, in practical terms the war in Ukraine may preoccupy the administration and alienate its officials from relations with the Middle East and the Gulf. However, the administration can find the region necessary to achieve its objectives in the declared priority areas. According to the document, the US strategy on China and Russia will be based on a three-pronged approach: strengthening the US economy to “maintain a competitive advantage”, modernizing and improving US military capabilities and “using diplomacy to build coalitions”. as strong as possible. These three factors will necessarily affect US policy in the Middle East and particularly in the Gulf, and will bring the United States closer, not further, to the region.

In fact, the strategy lists many areas where the Middle East and the Gulf could play a key role in achieving its regional goals. For example, he cites Iran as posing a clear threat to international security, regional stability, and American citizens, institutions, and interests. It interferes in the internal affairs of its neighbors, proliferates missiles and drones, “plots to harm Americans, including former officials,” and advances a nuclear program beyond any credible civilian need. . One of the objectives of the strategy is therefore to “strengthen deterrence against Iran”. Most of these concerns are shared by the GCC.

Drawing lessons from the failed war in Iraq, the Biden administration is pushing for a more practical and nuanced approach to the region that deserves support

Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg

He rightly states that the United States derives security and economic benefits from regional stability and the strengthening of representative institutions, and as such, he supports partners who strive to “build transparent, inclusive institutions and Accountable” to fight corruption, combat gender-based violence and protect against outside interference or coercion, including from Iran.

It also states that the United States “will continue to work with our allies and partners to strengthen our capabilities to deter and counter Iran’s destabilizing activities.” He will pursue diplomacy to “ensure that Iran can never acquire a nuclear weapon, while remaining positioned and ready to use other means should diplomacy fail.” He stressed that Iran’s threats against US personnel as well as current and former US officials “will not be tolerated” and that the United States “will respond when our people and our interests are attacked.”

On the Middle East region as a whole, the strategy advocates a nuanced and pragmatic approach, drawing lessons from the disastrous war in Iraq, which the GCC countries vigorously opposed. Over the past two decades, he says, American foreign policy has “too often failed in military-centric policies underpinned by an unrealistic faith in force and regime change to achieve lasting results, while by not sufficiently considering the opportunity costs of competing global priorities or unintended consequences.” The United States now believes it is time “to eschew grand designs in favor of more practical measures that might Americans and to help regional partners lay the foundation for greater stability, prosperity, and opportunity for the peoples of the Middle East and for America’s “people.”

The new strategy then advocates a new framework for US policy in the region based on five principles.

The first principle is to support countries that subscribe to the rules-based international order, ensuring that “those countries can defend themselves against foreign threats”.

The second is deterrence. The United States pledges not to allow foreign or regional powers to interfere with the freedom of navigation in the Middle Eastern waterways, including the Strait of Hormuz and Bab Al-Mandab, or to tolerate the efforts of any country to dominate the region through military build-ups, incursions or threats.

Third, the United States will work to reduce tensions, defuse and end conflicts wherever possible through diplomacy.

Fourth, the United States will promote regional integration by building political, economic, and security ties, including through integrated air and sea defense structures, “while respecting each country’s sovereignty and independent choices.”

Fifth, the United States will promote human rights and the values ​​enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.

The new framework will combine diplomacy, economic aid and security assistance to local partners to reduce instability and prevent the export of terrorism or mass migration from Yemen, Syria and Libya, while working with governments to manage the wider impact of these challenges.

Indeed, most, if not all, of these principles and priorities of the revised U.S. policy in the region would require more, not less, cooperation with GCC countries, ending speculation that the US ties with the region would crumble due to new priorities elsewhere. .

• Dr. Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg is the GCC’s Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs and Negotiation, and a columnist for Arab News. The opinions expressed in this article are personal and do not necessarily represent the views of the GCC. Twitter: @abuhamad1

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the authors in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arab News