A Strategy for the Post-ISIS Middle East

A Strategy for the Post-ISIS Middle East by Suzanne Maloney and Michael O’Hanlon – Wall Street Journal

With Islamic State nearly vanquished in Syria and Iraq, it’s time for a serious debate about the broader U.S. security strategy in the Middle East. Leaving aside the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and its unpromising near-term prospects, this debate must address the array of issues affecting American interests in the region: violent conflict, alliances, political and economic reform, and the central challenge of dealing with Iran.

The U.S. currently leads a military coalition in support of the Iraqi government and moderate insurgent forces finishing off ISIS in Iraq and Syria. American naval and air power ensures the free flow of oil through Persian Gulf waterways. Working with the Gulf Cooperation Council, as well as Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt, the U.S. bolsters regional defenses against ISIS, al Qaeda and Iran. And it wisely tries to de-escalate disputes among its coalition partners, such as the ugly row pitting Qatar against Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Sunni-majority states.

But the U.S. and its allies struggle on other fronts. Most glaring is a lack of a promising strategy to end the region’s civil wars and strengthen the states suffering internal conflict. Also missing is any serious plan to advance economic and political reform in the region, which is essential for long-term stability. The stakes are probably highest, and the current dilemmas most acute, in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan. Here is what Washington, working with allies and regional partners, should attempt in each…

Read on.

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