How Iran and Saudi Arabia Can Together Bring Peace to the Middle East

Vali Nasr and Maria Fantappie in Foreign Affairs:

The shift in Washington is undeniable: the Middle East is no longer a top priority for the United States. The U.S. withdrawal from the broader region is evident in the departure of troops from Afghanistan and reductions in U.S. military commitments to Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, alongside a heightened focus on China and Russia. There are good reasons for this shift in strategy, especially given the woeful recent history of U.S. involvement in the region, but it also brings risks of its own. The United States’ precipitous departure from Iraq in 2011, for example, paved the way for the rise of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) and the expansion of Iran’s regional footprint. To avert similar damage this time, Washington must find a way to pair reductions in military commitments with gains in regional stability. One of the best opportunities for achieving those gains lies in emerging talks between the region’s two most consequential antagonists: Iran and Saudi Arabia.

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