Balancing Trumpism: Transatlantic divergence in the Middle East

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This article is featured in the ORIENT II 2019

Is the Middle East the transatlantic alliance’s Achilles’ heel? Against the backdrop of global geopolitical shifts and a growing malaise in the relationship between Europe and the United States, it appears that they no longer want the same things there. Since the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, both sides have been actively trying to undermine each other in this region of core geopolitical interest to both. Although the basic US and European interests there remain aligned and there is tangible cooperation in some areas, their assessments and policies are drifting apart. The transatlantic partners’ clash on the two fundamental pillars of Middle Eastern geopolitics – Iran and Palestine – in practice means a diverging overall vision for the region. As the game in the Levant is increasingly being negotiated between Russia, Iran and Turkey, a transatlantic rivalry in the region will not only risk its further destabilisation but also hand Russia more opportunities to play Europe and the US in other geopolitical arenas.

Kristina Kausch is a Senior Resident Fellow at The German Marshall Fund of the United States’ (GMF) Brussels office. Her research focuses on Europe’s relations with the Middle East and North Africa, political transformations in the Arab world, and broader geopolitical trends in the Middle East.

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