You are here

Jamil Zaid asked: Will the continued political turmoil in Middle East and North Africa affect the US rebalance policy to the Asia-Pacific region?

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • Gulshan Dietl replies: Since late 2011, the Obama Administration has been making a series of pronouncements on a pivot to Asia-Pacific, which has now been moderated to a rebalance to Asia-Pacific. As the global power equations evolve, so do the strategic choices of the states. For example, the US policies were focussed on the Soviet Union during the Cold War. It is now China that is at the epicentre of the US worldview; and it is this worldview that advises and influences the US foreign policy.

    In particular, the US is determined to stand firm with its Allies in the Asian region in the face of an assertive Chinese foreign policy. The issues of Taiwan, the South and East China Sea and the North Korean nuclear issue are central to the US concerns and directly impinge on the US security in the long run. For the next few decades, therefore, the US will be very closely engaged with Asia-Pacific.

    Will that affect the US engagement with the Middle East and North Africa? Yes, to a certain degree, Asia will be the primary focus of the US attention. That is not to say, the US would be completely disengaged or indifferent to the happenings in the Middle East and North Africa.

    The US forces have withdrawn from Iraq and are in the process of withdrawing from Afghanistan. The US has chosen to step back from a confrontation with Syria. The production of shale oil and gas has diminished the US dependence on the imported energy from the Middle East. And lastly, the US budget constraints have put severe limitations on its power projection worldwide. Put together, there will be a definite shift in the US foreign policy. But then, the politics being what it is, there may still be sudden twists and turns in the Middle East and North Africa requiring a US relook at the rebalance!