The enemy of my ally is my friend? Ben Williams and Matthew Morrison discuss America's increasingly complex relations in the Middle East.

AuthorWilliams, Ben

Two thousand seventeen proved to be a difficult year for the United States. With the inauguration of a new administration dividing opinions worldwide, America's foreign policy has sparked both resentment and jubilation in different areas of the world. Perhaps one of the most difficult regions for the United States throughout the year was the Middle East, with various complexities once again rearing their heads. We saw allies disagreeing with United States decisions and squabbling amongst themselves, with some seeming to turn away from the American-led order. These decisions by the United States and its allies have increasingly complicated diplomatic prospects for the region's future. This article will look at the Jerusalem decision, the Qatar Crisis and Iran, highlighting increasing tensions between US allies in the Middle East.

With the recent release of the National Defense Strategy (NDS), the Trump administration is signalling its intention to move away from the business as usual of the last ten years to focus on global great power politics. However, the web of allies and adversaries that is the current state of Middle Eastern politics will require intense management of relations by the United States if it does not want to lose its privileged position in the region.

Capital decision

The Israel--Palestine conflict remains one of the most complex ongoing issues in the Middle East; it has been since the conception of Israel in 1947. The United States--Israel relationship has historically been one of the anchors of the United States' Middle Eastern foreign policy while remaining an issue for other American partners in the region. (1) Typically, United States actions in support of Israel draw condemnation from across the Muslim world. Last year was no different. President Trump broke from 40 years of established norms by announcing his intention to shift the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and formally acknowledge the contested city as Israel's capital.

The move drew criticism from United States partners across the world, culminating in a non-binding resolution against the move in the United Nations General Assembly in late December. The strongest condemnation came from the Middle East. King Abdullah of Jordan personally visited Washington to lobby against the decision, while the Arab League warned that the decision 'deepens tension, ignites anger, and threatens to plunge the region into more violence and chaos'. (2) Thousands took to the streets across the...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT