China is the most pressing national security issue, says former US ambassador to Sana’a
Tehran – Noting that the United States has its critical interests in West Asia, the former US ambassador to Sana’a said Beijing was the “most pressing national security issue” for Washington.
“The United States clearly sees competition from the great powers, especially with China, as its most pressing national security problem,” Gerald Michael Feierstein told The Tehran Times.
The United States has been engaged in West Asia for decades. Regional powers including Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have attempted to shift the balance, seeking new allies and competing more fiercely. But beyond the headlines, China has been the United States’ biggest rival in West Asian politics. In fact, Beijing is the region’s biggest oil buyer.
“I think there are a number of factors influencing Riyadh’s desire to reduce regional tensions. These include the need to focus on domestic challenges, the recognition that an outbreak of open conflict in the region would be detrimental to Saudi Arabia, and an interest in coordinating more closely with what Saudi leaders have. recognized as a change of position of the United States.For Washington, this means that West Asia is reappearing as a stage of great power competition.
China’s deep alignment with Iran and friendly ties with anti-American groups pose long-term risks for the United States. The Biden administration has no choice but to impose costs on China and Iran to maintain their nascent strategic partnership. It must also be recognized that most of Washington’s allies and partners in West Asia – including Israel and the Persian Gulf states – are reluctant to take sides in a US-China geopolitical rivalry.
“Nonetheless, as we see now in the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence, the United States has critical interests in the Middle East (West Asia) that will always demand its engagement,” Feierstein notes.
Here is the text of the interview:
Q: It looks like Saudi Arabia is changing its foreign policy regarding Qatar, Iran and Yemen? What is the main cause of this policy change?
A: I think there are a number of factors influencing Riyadh’s desire to reduce regional tensions. These include the need to focus on domestic challenges, the recognition that an outbreak of open conflict in the region would be detrimental to Saudi Arabia, and an interest in coordinating more closely with what Saudi leaders have. recognized as a change of position of the United States.
Q: Will America get rid of West Asia and focus on other parts of Asia to take on China? Is West Asia Still Important to Policy Makers in the United States?
A: The United States clearly sees great power competition, especially with China, as its most pressing national security issue. Nonetheless, as we see now in the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence, the United States has critical interests in the Middle East (West Asia) that will always demand its engagement.
Q: Under Trump’s presidency, the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf have experienced sharp disagreements. Do you expect some kind of harmony between these countries during Biden’s tenure?
A: The issues facing the region today, for example, the social and economic challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and the growing challenges of climate change and the environment, foster regional cooperation and coordination. This recognition may be the driving force behind what we are seeing now in reducing tensions between states in the region. The Biden administration will support measures to reduce regional tensions, especially between Saudi Arabia and its neighbors.
Q: Based on your experience in West Asia, what is the logic behind the behavior of states and regimes in the region? How could a Western observer understand Western Asia?
A: I think it is important to recognize that each state in the region is unique in its history, culture and traditions and that we should not be making broad, broad statements about the drivers of decisions in each country. A Western observer should keep this in mind when trying to understand the dynamics at play in the countries of the region, or more broadly in the world. To understand a country, you have to study that country, its history and its people.
Q: Given the American experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, do you think America will continue its so-called democratization movement in the region, especially when we talk about Washington’s Arab allies like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates?
A: As an American, I believe that democratic systems of governance provide the greatest stability and opportunity for citizens, and therefore the United States should promote democratic reforms when raising issues of governance. . The United States should be seen around the world as a defender of human rights and civil liberties. But it is also true that each country has to make its own decisions about how best to run its affairs and what might be the best approach to governance.