Will 2014 be a decisive year for the United States regarding Middle Eastern affairs?

memap

05 January 2014

According to STRATFOR, the year 2014 might be a decisive year for the U.S. in its involvement in Middle Eastern geopolitics.

STRATFOR’s latest geopolitical diary makes the case that working toward a nuclear settlement with Iran will take centre stage in U.S. strategy, with other hot spots like Syria and Israel/Palestine playing a peripheral but supportive role.

The Obama Administration is likely to manage Syrian negotiations and the Israeli-Palestinian talks in such a way that they reinforce the U.S. negotiating position with Iran. The ultimate goal, however, will be to pursue a settlement with Iran that points the way toward restoring a balance of power in the region, and in so doing, secure America’s geopolitical position with regard to the Middle East.

The U.S. will try to keep the Israelis and Saudis engaged on issues not directly related to Iran, even if those issues are inherently intractable due to deep-seated conflicts. The goal is to allow the Saudis and Israelis to extract concessions out of Washington in exchange for greater U.S. leverage in the management of the Iranian nuclear talks. Such peripheral issues might include the political status of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, Iran’s aid to Palestinian militant proxies and the future sectarian power balance in Syria.

Managing the concerns of Israel and Saudi Arabia through peripheral issues will require a great deal of diplomatic balancing from Washington, but it will be part of a larger strategy to keep the various powers in the Middle East preoccupied with their own agendas whilst the U.S. forges ahead with its strategic goals.

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