Thanks To Sanctions, The US Is Losing Its Grip On The Middle East

The US is losing its grip on the Middle East as Iran and Saudi Arabia expand their relations with China, all thanks to sanctions.

On Friday, members of the Arab League welcomed the Syrian regime back to the organization. Representatives from several Arab member states shook Syrian leader Assad’s hand and gave him, a “warm” reception according to several news outlets. Syria was suspended from the league in 2011, but on May 7 in Cairo the league agreed to reinstate the Assad regime. 

This represents a reversal from years of isolation placed on the regime, and a break with US policy which remains staunchly opposed to Assad. Indeed, the League’s rapprochement with Assad should be seen as a repudiation of US policy, and especially as a sign of how Washington’s influence among Leage members—the most powerful of which are Saudi Arabia and Egypt—has waned.

Moreover, this is just the latest bad news for Washington’s influence in the region coming mere weeks after Iran and Saudi Arabia reestablished diplomatic relations.

In both cases, we find regimes that Washington had sought to isolate and sanction, but both states have instead been expanding their relations with other states in the region with the help of China. Meanwhile, both Beijing and Riyadh have increased their ties with Russia. These development help illustrate how growing US attempt to impose—or threaten to impose—hard line sanctions against a growing number of regimes has only accelerated a global movement away from the US dollar and away from Washington’s orbit. 

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Saudi Arabia Increasing Ties with Iran and Syria

In March of this year, Saudi Arabia and Iran announced a resumption of relations following a deal brokered by China. The Saudi regime—a longtime Washington ally—had apparently not told the Biden administration of the meetings with Iran and China. Shortly after the agreement was announced, the administration dispatched CIA Director William Burns to Saudi Arabia where he reportedly “expressed frustration with the Saudis,” telling “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that the U.S. has felt blindsided by Riyadh’s rapprochement with Iran and Syria.”

Although the White House now claims to be supportive of the new agreement between Riyadh and Tehran, this support is really just an admission that there’s not much Washington can do about it. After all, for decades, US policy has been to isolate Tehran and in recent years, Washington has imposed harsh sanctions, including Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure campaign” designed to cripple Iran even more. The Biden administration took no significant steps to reverse the Trump position. The Saudi regime’s newfound openness to Iran is thus contrary to US policy, and it is not plausible that Washington is in any way pleased with the change. 

The economic war against Russia has partially failed due to Europe having itself paid a high price to effect a partial boycott of Russian oil and gas.

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