At this disrupted time centered around the COVID-19 pandemic affecting all parts of the globe might there be a way to assess the relative standing of national regimes and the geographical regions as fields in which their interests may compete?
Nothing is stranger than the notion, widely held, that Russia is a newcomer to the Middle East. After extending its rule to what is now called southern Ukraine in the late eighteenth century its territories bordered on the vast Ottoman Empire.
Even a kerfuffle can reveal a strategic blunder. In December 2019, the New York Times editorial board taped an interview with former Vice President Joe Biden. A segment dealing with US-Turkish relations did not make the final cut, but eight months later, on August 15, 2020, it surfaced on the internet and sparked outrage in Turkey.
The inability of the United States, in cooperation with like-minded nations, to implement a consistent policy toward the greater Middle East and North Africa region (spanning Morocco in the west to Iran in the east and encompassing the northern countries of Syria and Iraq to the southern countries of Sudan and Yemen) has contributed to the extent of the region’s unravelling, diminishing American influence there.
From the beginning, the “Pivot to Asia,” announced with some fanfare in late 2011 by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, was more about politics than strategy. It provided the appearance of a strategic rationale for the American retreat from the Middle East with its “endless wars,” taking advantage of our new-found “energy independence” to focus instead on the Asia-Pacific with its growing importance for American economic and security interests.