- Washington’s two biggest headaches in the Middle East are Syria and Iran
- Both can be dealt with by a U.S.-Russian agreement on spheres of influence
- Rebuilding the Sunni alliance against Iran may be the Trump administration’s top priority
The Middle East today is a focal point of global unrest. The range of conflicts encompasses ethnic, religious and tribal warfare; rebellions, civil wars and terrorist campaigns; outside interventions by superpowers; and a myriad of contending interests and alliances.
The United States, which had long exerted a major and (some would say) stabilizing influence in the region, has been mostly absent during Barack Obama’s presidency. Donald Trump will not have the luxury of ignoring the Middle East, since it constitutes a growing security threat. The president-elect made a number of pronouncements on the subject during his campaign, some advocating greater involvement, others leaning toward isolationism. On balance, however, the new president will have no choice but to jettison Mr. Obama’s policy of disengagement or minimal intervention.