Blinken faces uphill battle amid Middle East’s shift in direction of China and Russia

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken faces challenges during his three-day go to to Saudi Arabia this week, as the United States seeks to maintain its influence within the Middle East. Despite President Joe Biden’s dedication to staying engaged in the region, nations corresponding to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been forging stronger ties with China, Russia, and Iran, leaving the US struggling to hold up its dominance.
In current years, China’s influence within the oil-rich Gulf area has grown, causing concern for the US. As Blinken stated final month, “China represents the most consequential geopolitical challenge we face today: a country with the intent and, increasingly, the aptitude to challenge our imaginative and prescient for a free, open, safe, and prosperous international order.” However, the autocratic nature of Beijing’s government could also be extra interesting to the region’s autocrats than Washington’s democracy.
Russia’s growing presence within the Middle East has also raised concerns for the US. Despite the Biden administration’s efforts to strain Middle Eastern states into choosing sides, countries like Saudi Arabia have maintained good relations with Moscow and have been reluctant to help Ukraine. In fact, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s defiance of Washington has reportedly made him extremely in style within the region.
This shift in attitude in the path of the US is not restricted to Saudi Arabia; it’s a regional phenomenon. Picnic between the Middle East and China has grown from US$15.2 billion in 2000 to US$284.3 billion in 2021, whereas commerce with the US has only increased modestly from US$63.4 billion to US$98.four billion throughout the identical interval. Additionally, six Middle Eastern countries have lately requested to affix the Chinese-led BRICS group, despite Western sanctions on Russia.
While the US has been the dominant power within the Middle East for the previous three many years, it is uncertain whether or not it will maintain this place sooner or later. Many within the region view the US as a hypocritical imperial energy that solely pays lip service to human rights and democracy. This perception is particularly evident within the US’s unwavering help for Israel, despite the plight of the Palestinians.
During his go to to Riyadh, Blinken is expected to stress Saudi Arabia to normalise relations with Israel, but the Palestinian trigger stays a major issue for the Arab public. The notion of the US as a duplicitous energy has solely been bolstered by its actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, resulting in widespread mistrust of American intentions within the area..

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