March 28, 2011

Refocus Mideast Presence

The popular upheavals shaking the established political order in the Middle East may throw U.S. defense strategy in the region into disarray. In the span of barely two months, political and security relationships that had prevailed for decades have been overturned or challenged.

The alliance with Egypt, cultivated to maintain regional stability and Arab peace with Israel, will be tested in the course of the country's uncertain political transition. Other governments regarded as key counterterrorism partners appear to be on the verge of collapse. The level of violence used to suppress protesters in Bahrain makes it less politically attractive for American leaders to maintain such a close friendship with that government. Furthermore, the direct participation of U.S.-allied Emirati, Qatari and Saudi forces in violently suppressing Bahraini protests could create deeper strains in America's defense relationships in the gulf.

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