It was only three weeks ago that President Donald Trump, in Riyadh, proclaimed that he had secured unprecedented unity amongst Sunni governments to fight the two scourges all the assembled 55 governments agreed were destabilizing the Middle East — Islamist extremism and Iran. That unity lasted mere days, however, as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Bahrain cut off relations with Qatar and essentially imposed a blockade on the country, which imports 40 percent of its food across its land border with Saudi Arabia.
The fierce eruption of this intra-Arab split threatens to undermine key American goals in the Middle East, at a particularly delicate moment. Trump’s swift embrace of the Saudi side in this family argument exacerbates the danger and undermines his own declared goals. The administration’s current approach has launched the United States into the middle of a slew of regional rivalries and may well exacerbate the geopolitical conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia — one with significant religious and sectarian undercurrents.
Read the full article on Foreign Policy.
More from CNAS
CommentarySharper: Global Coronavirus Response
As regions across the United States enforce states of emergency and a growing list of countries restrict travel, close schools, and quarantine citizens, the economic and human...
By Chris Estep & Cole Stevens
CommentaryHow the US can learn from Israel to counter Iran
During the COVID-19 crisis, one would have thought the United States and Iran would find ways to reduce tensions. Instead the Trump administration refuses to relax sanctions i...
By Ilan Goldenberg & Kaleigh Thomas
ReportsCountering Iran in the Gray Zone
American freedom of action to strike Iranian targets in the gray zone may be greater than previously assessed, if U.S. policymakers are willing and able to replicate at least ...
By Ilan Goldenberg, Nicholas Heras, Kaleigh Thomas & Jennie Matuschak
Commentary9/11 swallowed U.S. foreign policy. Don’t let the coronavirus do the same thing.
For two decades, American foreign policy has been shaped by the 9/11 attacks. The catastrophic wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our failure to see the full threat posed by Russia...
By Ilan Goldenberg