By Haya Azab
For three decades, the United States has played a significant role in influencing Middle Eastern geopolitical power struggle. In several cases, its interference has resulted in significant backlash from numerous nations in the region and has intensified many political situations.
Israel is the United States’ strongest ally in the region. Ties between the two countries began when the United States became the first nation to recognize Israel as a country. The reason for this long-lasting friend ship is Israel stance as the only nation in the region that upholds democracy and shares the same political ideals as the United States. America provides Israel with security among its hostile neighbors and Israel, in return, serves as the United States’s only bastion of influence in the oil wealthy region. Additionally, both countries possess mutual security interests in the region and common adversaries such as Hezbollah, Iran and Syria.
For years, the United States and Israel have worked together to defend themselves against enemies. In 1967, the United States aided Israel in the Arab-Israeli war and later hosted the Camp David Accords, resulting in a peace treaty that agreed to pay both Egypt and Israel billions of dollars in annual aid to foster peace relations. However, anti-American sentiment, along with distrust among Arab citizens, was never repaired. Recently under the Obama administration, instability in the region has made this alliance uneasy..
Increasing tension between the two governments mainly arises from Israel illegal development of settlements in the West Bank (Palestinian territory). Israel’s actions stress relations between the United States and important nations in region including financial powerhouse Saudi Arabia, Egypt and various militia groups. Although the United States remains peaceful relations with these governments, it has yet to appease a majority of the people in the region who support Palestinian rights. The United States’ leading position in negotiating Israeli and Palestinian consensus has drawn the nation international criticism. Furthermore, disagreements arise over the means of handling Iran’s nuclear power as Israel pressures the continuity To pursue harsh U.S. sanctions due to the international community’s failure to disarm Iran.
Iran poses a major threat to the United States’ national security interests. The adversarial relations began in 1953 when U.S. and British forces engineered an illegitimate coup toppling the prime minister for his plan on nationalizing oil industry. After replacing him with a western backed monarch, widespread demonstrations erupted resulting in the election of a new Shiite Muslim extremist ruler. Growing anti-western sentiments encouraged attacks on U.S. citizens and territories abroad, including capricious attacks on soldiers in Iraq and the infamous embassy hostage situation of 1979.
Yet the biggest issue revolves around Iran developing nuclear power with the support of Russia. Although it denies any ambitions to create nuclear weapon, U.S. intelligence proves otherwise. Satellite images show Iran’s short-range missile test fire, putting Iran’s intentions into question and further exhausting the situation. Although military action against Iran remains an option, 35 U.S. military bases in the Middle East lie within Iran’s missile range, and therefore are at serious risk to Iranian retaliation.
The development of nuclear weapons poses a great threat on the region, and especially to Israel, which continues to pressure the United States to take action against Iran. Ongoing talks between Russia, Iran, Israel and the United States aim to neutralize the threat to Israeli and U.S. security interests. These negotiations mainly seek to prevent the continuation of uranium enrichment for the purpose of creating an atomic bomb.
During the past few years, the United States and Israel have opted to cyber war tactics against Iran’s nuclear efforts, which have slowed down progress. These efforts, however, have been met with Iranian counter attacks. The US attempts to coerce Iran into giving up it nuclear ambitions by imposing severe sanctions as an economic threat to crumble Iran’s economy.
In response to the sanctions Iran has upped its aid for Hezbollah and other militia groups that attack U.S. targets abroad. Iran supported the founding of Hezbollah in 1980, which the US labels a foreign terrorist organization. Although initially created only to drive Israeli troops from Lebanon after Palestinian militia triggered an invasion, the Muslim extremist group now has hegemony in Lebanon. Hezbollah gives Iran foothold in the region and implements a constant threat toward Israel and the United States for its interference in the region and ties with Israel. State sponsorship from countries like Iran also gives Hezbollah the power and resources needed to orchestrate larger attacks against U.S citizens and territory abroad.
Attacks against the United States by Hezbollah have occurred since 1980. Severe attacks include suicide bombers in the U.S. embassy in Beirut and the killing of over 250 Americans, including military personnel, in American army facilities. Alongside these attacks was also the kidnapping of CIA station chief in Beirut, William Buckley, who died in captivity. Recently Hezbollah fighters have moved into Syria to aid Bashaar Al Assad against western backed rebels, and have effectively contributed in Bashaar’s victories. More importantly, Hezbollah poses an imminent threat on the United States by promising large scale attacks on Israel should the United States attack Iran.
US diplomacy in the Middle East is at stalemate. Any threatening actions to eliminate danger would result in grave consequences, and diplomatic action has proven to be of little effect. Although the US’s foreign policy is capable of affectively targeting governments of hostile nations, it fails to hold its citizens in any regard. Thus, the foreign policy continues to fuel anti-American sentiment in the region.
Photo by Korey Napier