America is losing the Middle East


© AP Photo / Ariel Schalit

The countries of this region are drifting away from the U.S. and the West toward Russia and China.

The obvious fact is that during Biden's presidency, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates began to withdraw from U.S. influence. Just look at the refusal of these countries last March to hold telephone conversations with him! It was a serious flick on the nose to the carriers of American superpower idea – like our junior allies, where will they go? As it turned out, they will. They simply refused to increase oil production in time for the congressional elections, showing that they were not going to give the States such a gift, saving America from high oil prices.

Riyadh, offended by Biden's statements that the KSA would become a rogue country after the murder of journalist Khashoggi, has defiantly turned its back on the U.S. and turned toward China. And sanctions on Russia's oil and gas sector have made the kingdom concerned about the future: will the Americans do the same to them? And the "oil for security" formula, which had been in effect between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. for many years, has ceased to work. In addition, Riyadh, a Sunni on its own, having excluded Washington, went to a rapprochement with Shiite Iran, although for many years they openly considered each other enemies. Now, with Chinese mediation, the two countries have managed to resume diplomatic relations.

The second strike against White House diplomacy was dealt by Russia, which mediated the rapprochement between Riyadh and Damascus. It should be recalled that since 2011, the Gulf countries (including the UAE and the KSA) supported the United States, which helped the rebels fighting against the Assad regime. But this year, their position has changed dramatically. President Bashar al-Assad paid an official visit to Saudi Arabia, and the question of Syria's return to the Arab League, from which it had been excluded, began to take shape. In addition, the Gulf states began to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey.

All this clearly shows how the position of Washington is weakening in the region and that Russia and China are getting stronger.

The calculation of the U.S. and the EU that after imposing unprecedented sanctions against Russia, including a ban on the purchase of its oil and gas, the Saudi-led OPEC countries will open the tap wider and the oil price will be comfortable for the Western world did not work.

In addition, a struggle for logistics corridors has begun, and the U.S. is also defeated in this matter. After the January-February meetings of the defense ministers of Russia, China and Iran, a number of regulations on the use of strategically important transport routes have changed. For example, in the Strait of Hormuz, through which up to 80 percent of the transportation of hydrocarbons from the Middle East goes to the United States, Southeast Asia, Europe, Japan, India, and the Philippines, Iran has established its own rules. It has decided to selectively block tankers carrying oil products to Western countries. In April this year, for example, the Iranian Navy arrested a tanker with a cargo of Saudi oil bound for the United States and in May it detained a tanker flying the Panamanian flag. It should not be forgotten that China is building a railroad to Pakistan's deep-sea port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea, where it has a naval base. That is, this port is under the administrative control of Pakistan, but in fact it is under the control of the Chinese Overseas Ports Holding Company. The Chinese naval base in the port of Gwadar easily blocks the Strait of Hormuz, and can also control the approaches to the Strait of Malacca, through which 20 percent of all world maritime trade goes. Blocking the Straits of Malacca and Hormuz would lead to a complete economic collapse in Europe and the United States. This is comparable to a nuclear strike on the economies of these countries.

In addition, the freezing of Russian gold and foreign currency reserves, the disconnection of Russia from SWIFT showed everyone that at any time the U.S. can use this cudgel against other countries as well. And it has undermined faith in the dollar, leading to the creation of new alliances that trade in national currencies instead of euros and dollars. Russia accepts payment for its oil and gas in rubles and yuan. The Indians have begun to pay for Russian fuel in dirhams, and China in yuan and rubles. In other words, there are not only new political alliances independent of the West and the United States, but also economic alliances that use their own currencies for mutual settlements, which undermines the hegemony of the White House and demonstrates the new geopolitical reality of the modern world.

A number of Middle Eastern countries – Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and the UAE – are partners focused on China, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). In addition, the Saudis and Egyptians have expressed interest in joining BRICS, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Turkey is also interested in BRICS, despite the fact that the country is in alliance with the United States. So the U.S. sanctions against Russia and confrontation with China has caused their influence in the Middle East to fall considerably and generates new alliances, but without American patronage.

Everyone is already "fed up" with the American leadership and punitive role, such as Turkey, which, after the purchase of the Russian S-400 system in violation of its NATO member status, was deprived by the Americans of the opportunity to buy F-35 fighter jets. Similarly, the UAE was punished by being cut off from the purchase of F-35 fighter jets for its unwillingness to cut ties with Beijing.

And it seems that in the future this process of distancing oneself from America as a mentor will only increase. New alliances of countries trying to prioritize their own interests over obediently doing the bidding of the EU and the White House will begin to arise.

And if we also take into account Africa, many countries of which have reoriented themselves toward China and rapprochement with Russia, it is quite obvious that a complete redrawing of the geopolitical map of the world is under way, and clearly not in favor of the White House. Suppose that quite a few more countries join the already existing alliances led by Russia and China. So the attempt to isolate Russia, to punish it with sanctions led to a completely opposite result.