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Involvement of US Military Amidst Power Vacuum in Middle East

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US Military

The Middle East has seen an enduring presence of the US military across its region in the last couple of decades. Under US President Donald Trump, the US military presence has not changed considerably, with thousands of forces spread across the countries in the region, including bases in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, and Bahrain. A number of training and counterterrorism missions have been underway in parts of Iraq and Syria. Significantly, it is still unclear whether such a substantial presence of the US military secures the countries in the region or increases hostility between the neighbours. However, after the killing of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad, the US military has been dealing with a perilous new reality in the Middle East. 

It is important to note than over the past few years, Trump administration’s top strategic focus has drastically shifted from U.S. Middle East policy to fighting terror networks such as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State group in the region, leading to the US President aggressive and unthought decisions. This has also resulted in increased political instability among the Gulf countries as well.

An unstable political environment in the Middle Eastern bloc has proliferated the scope of terrorism and radical extremism in the region. A complicated conflict between different ethnicities, religions, and geographies in the Middle East has also spiraled in a dynamic imbalance in the power-sharing of the region. Years after the Arab Spring, several countries across the region such as Lebanon and Iraq have also been witnessing massive anti-establishment uprisings, with protesters demanding the downfall of corrupt governments. 

Amid the US involvement, Russia and China are also consistently intervening in the political vacuum of the region, seeking more influence across the countries. Beijing has already been gaining a reputation in various parts of Mideast with its COVID-19 diplomacy. When the US is busy blaming Beijing over the Coronavirus outbreak, China has increased its influence and soft power in many countries in the Middle East by providing medical supplies and equipment to fight the disease. 

While there have been talks about downsizing the US forces in the region, a paramount deficiency of diplomatic influence poses threats to the independence of the region from the US military. Amid the developments, Trump is banking on the US involvement in the Middle East as a crucial issue in the Presidential election, as he announced a Middle East peace plan at the beginning of 2020.

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