Sunday, November 28

Thomas Friedman: Biden and natural conditions are reshaping the Middle East

The prominent American journalist writer Thomas Friedman said that the Middle East is now undergoing a transition from a region shaped by great powers to a region reshaped by the forces of nature.

Friedman saw -in his article According to the American newspaper “New York Times” – that there are two main factors pushing the region strongly towards change; They are the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the climate change that has begun to negatively affect the region.

The writer said that “there is something new that is re-moving the pieces forcefully on the chessboard in the Middle East, the pieces that have been frozen in place for many years. The biggest force that moves it is Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan.”

He pointed out that US President Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan was a message to the countries of the region saying, “You are now alone. If you are looking for us, we will be in the Taiwan Strait. Message us a lot. Send us oil. Goodbye.”

The second factor that contributes to reshaping the Middle East and intensifying the pressure caused by the American withdrawal, according to Friedman, is the forces of nature, which are reflected in heat waves, droughts, demographic pressures, the decline in oil prices over the years, and the high infections of the Corona pandemic in the region.

Flexibility instead of resistance

The writer said that the transformation that the region is witnessing will force its leaders to focus more on building the resilience needed to adapt to environmental changes in order to gain legitimacy rather than gaining it by resisting enemies near and far.

“We are still at the beginning of this paradigm shift from resistance to resilience, as the region is becoming too hot, overcrowded, and suffering from water shortages to the point that no life can be maintained,” he said.

Friedman explained that the presence of the United States in Afghanistan and the implicit security guarantees that it provided throughout the region contributed to achieving stability, and also contributed to the emergence of many bad behaviors, such as the boycott of other countries by countries in the region and the occupation of countries and reckless adventures and brutal military interventions in the region.

He said that the strong support of the United States for its traditional allies – regardless of their bad policies – encouraged some to get what is not within their reach without fear of repercussions.

He pointed out that President Barack Obama’s withdrawal from the region and President Donald Trump’s refusal to respond to Iran after the attack on a major Saudi oil facility in 2019 with drones, were all warning signs that the United States is tired of interfering and playing the role of arbiter in Middle East wars. Sectarianism, then Biden came and formalized it.

In his article, Friedman dealt with some aspects of the transformation that the Middle East is witnessing, especially with regard to the improvement of relations that were tense between some countries. He pointed out in this regard that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has begun to repair its relations with Iran and Qatar after the estrangement, and has also reduced its participation in the war on Yemen. He said that the UAE withdrew from the conflicts in Libya and Yemen, and repaired its relations with Iran, Qatar and Syria.

He pointed out that these countries realize that in the absence of the support of the United States – the big brother, as he put it – they cannot bear hostilities with Iran, and the Iranians also realize that they desperately need the greatest possible openness to the world in light of the ongoing sanctions imposed on their country.

In the new Middle East shaped by the forces of nature, Friedman finally concludes that leaders’ performance is no longer judged by how much they resist each other or great powers, but by how much they build their nations’ resilience at a time when the world is gradually emerging from dependence. On fossil fuels, and at a time when Arab and Islamic countries are witnessing an increase in the population under the age of 30 with the intensification of climate change around the world.

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