How to Handle Middle East Instability?

Bob A. Rabboh

Professor of Economics
Central Michigan University- Global Campus Programs


Instability in the Middle East is likely to continue for many years, if not even decades. For this reason alone, the United States leadership should be committed to ensuring its foreign policy will continue to be characterized by prudence, support, conciliation, and consensus.

Here, to comprehend the instability in the above region, one needs to view the current situation from the following perspectives:  First, it seems that the Obama administration rarely accepted blame whatever went wrong in the Middle East. In fact, the former president did not act aggressively and both Russia and Iran took advantage. Hence, according to the majority leader of the U.S. Congress that, “Russia is not our friend.” Also, it is enough to say and widely accepted that it is Mullah- religious elites who yield all power in Iran—who seem focused on dominating the Gulf region through their proxies including President Assad’s regime which Iran views as an ultra-loyal satellite and part of Iran’s highly coveted “Crescent of influence”. Hence, Iran and Russia are prepared to shed infinite Syrian blood to save Assad’s regime (challenges to Assad family’s 46 years of rule). More importantly, Syria has become the greatest factory of terrorists the world ever known, yet that factory manages Assad. Nevertheless, diplomacy will never convince Iranians and Assad’s regime to change their behavior.

At this juncture, due to strategic- geopolitical and geo-economic realities, the Gulf States continue to be regarded by the international and regional scholars and politicians as an area of vital interest to the United States as well as the international community. Hence, the Arab Gulf States are the key pillar of regional stability and security. Therefore, it is particularly important for the United States to support the Arab Gulf States. Doing so will protect the United States national interests.

In vein with instability is the high unemployment rate among the youth, as well as slow economic growth. These economic problems compounded by refugee flows from wars in Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Iraq. Further, a major reason that caused instability in the Middle East and North Africa is the authoritarian regimes, where the truth is not hard to find. The legitimacy of these regimes is based on the ability to grip power and to establish security; everything else is considered at a later date. Due to this concept, the question of government has remained unanswered; these regimes are incapable of realizing the aspiration and objectives of society. However, most Arabs are devoted Muslims; they are NOT devoted Islamists. They might be willing to accept Islamists in government if they are responsible, effective, and accountable. Those Islamists who got the chance in government to show what they are truly made of—particularly Muslim brotherhood in Egypt—proved nothing of the kind.

More fundamentally the lack of clarity about where things are going politically and economically, have all granted a sense and stress. Meanwhile evidence suggests the alternative Arab visions remain largely repressed, scattered, unorganized, marginal, and hence, ineffective. On the other hand, there has probably never been an era in the Middle East and North Africa which leaders have played more positive and prominent roles in society than the UAE. Symbols of admiration, its leaders have done their utmost for sake of the country and for achieving its aspirations.

Based on these above analyses, Russians and Iranians are the main destabilizing factors in the Middle East and North Africa regions. It remains an open question how the Trump Administration will handle the region, as well as the trouble spots that demand American attention.