TRENDS Study Confirms the Strategic and Special Nature of US-GCC Relations



As part of its policy papers series, TRENDS Research and Advisory released a study entitled "Biden's Policy Towards the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf: Determinants and Issues of Interest”. The study answers the key question of whether the US policy towards the Middle East and the Arab Gulf is witnessing a transformation, in what remains of President Joe Biden's first term in office. The paper reviews and explores the determinants that shape the policies of the Democratic Party administration in the   Middle East and the Arab Gulf, and Its position on the relevant key regional issues.


The study, prepared by Dr. Yousry Ahmed El-Azbawy, an expert in political affairs at TRENDS Research and Advisory, is divided into three main themes. The first part examines the determinants and tenets of the Biden administration's foreign policy towards the Middle East. The second part sheds light on the Biden’s administration's current and potential position on the most important issues of the region. The last part discusses the expected policies of the Biden administration towards the GCC countries, especially Saudi Arabia.


The study indicated that the foreign policy of the Democratic administration of President Joe Biden towards the Middle East and the Arab Gulf will not witness a dramatic transformation, as was expected if the Republicans won a landslide victory in the last congressional elections.  The US administration is not inclined to turn the region into a space for confrontation with major powers, as much as it is keen to buffer China away from the strategic projects in the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf.


The study pointed out that there is a set of US constant policies towards the region since the middle of the last century, regardless of the ruling party that holds power in the White House (Democratic or Republican). This includes, denying any competing international power to fill the vacuum in the region. The US work to guarantee access and the safety and sustainable energy supplies from the region, and maintain the security of Israel. After the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979, the US added the confrontation of the revolution in Iran to its regional Agenda.


The study showed that in light of these US policy constants, successive US administrations have adopted various approaches towards the region according to national security strategies.


The author pointed out that the directions of the current Democratic administration determine the nature of its position towards many issues of the region, which fall in line with typical American pragmatism.  It is most probable that the philosophy of the US administration during the next two years in dealing with most countries of the Middle East shall be based on the principle of avoiding escalation of contentious issues. The coming Administrations shall expand and build on the most positives aspects as much as possible. They shall maintain political realism and institutional dealings with all regional parties, trying to avoid any tendency to exacerbate matters in Iraq. The US is expected to monitor the situation in Syria, together with developments in Lebanon, cautiously and accurately with a special focus on the Iranian role, as well as Russian influence.


The study concluded that US-Gulf relations are strategic relations and are based on a very special partnership.


The international and structural interactions, in the wake of the Russian-Ukrainian war, proved the difficulty for either side to dispense with the other. After the Democratic administration fully realize the importance of the GCC countries and the nature of its relations with them, it will move to intensify interactions with them in the coming period. However, this does not mean that the mutual relations will be free of tensions, or "controlled" conflict of interest.


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