Is Washington being sidelined on the Middle East?
The Right Web which is affiliated with the International Relations Center has just published my analysis Is Washington being sidelined on the Middel East? Among other things I suggest that:
Now that the cost of the U.S. drive for power in the region is producing countervailing pressures at home and abroad, U.S. capacity and determination to advance the Arab-Israeli peace process has been weakened and has created a diplomatic vacuum in the Middle East that is gradually being filled by regional— and outside—players. The diplomatic role that Saudi Arabia has played in mediating the intra-Palestinian conflict parallels its discussions with Iran to stabilize Lebanon, its move to co-opt Syria into the Arab-Sunni camp, and its support for the Arab-Sunnis in Iraq.
Similarly, U.S. failures in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine have created disincentives for Washington to engage Iran and Syria, a step that it fears could be perceived as a sign of weakness. But both Syria and Israel share common interests in ending their military conflict that do not necessarily correspond to those of Washington. In fact, a deal between Damascus and Jerusalem could threaten the U.S. position by sidelining it to the diplomatic margins. That could also happen if Saudi Arabia increases its diplomatic role in the Middle East and moves in the direction of engaging Iran instead of confronting it.