A new report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) examines how geopolitical risk and international tensions will change in the Middle East as long-term US interests in the region decline. As US leadership gradually fades, China’s neutrality in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and economic power make it the best-positioned external power to benefit. Traditional US allies—mainly the UAE, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt—will undergo some modest diversification of their relations with other major powers and try to resolve some regional conflicts without the US. However, those same US allies will also compete for influence with two other blocs with different ideological visions for the region. This will lead to shifting diplomacy between blocs, as well as the emergence of new pockets of instability. The US withdrawal from Afghanistan offers the starkest example yet of its slow long-term disengagement from the region. It is likely to accelerate two trends.
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