Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Middle East Crisis and Sino-U.S. Relations

Brookings - October 27, 104

Martin Indyk, vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings Institution, delivered a public speech at Brookings-Tsinghua Center on October 27. Researcher of Division for Middle East Studies at Chinese Academy of Social Science Institute of West Asian and African studies Tang Zhichao also joined as a guest commentator. The discussion was warmly welcomed by more than 100 students, scholars and representatives from the media and the industry.  Martin Indyk began his speech with a brief review of the historical roots of Middle East issues. Indyk made three main arguments, first asserting that the modern state system in the Middle East was not established naturally in the historical process. Instead, it was derived from the artificially created borders by British and French colonists during World War I. Consequently, countries in this region suffered from complicated religious and tribal conflicts, which made it more difficult to coordinate their developments. His second argument focused on the dominant role the United States played in the Middle East in the post-Cold War era. The United States, according to Indyk, chose to cooperate with Middle East monarchies for its own oil interests to ensure their rule or even repression of the local people. The region, however, ended up in chaos caused by people’s revolts. Last, Indyk argued that the U.S. war against Iraq after 9/11 exacerbated the regional instability by toppling Saddam’s regime and replacing it with a Shi'a dominated Iraqi government. The rise of ISIS, which Indyk considered to be the biggest threat in the Middle East, could also be considered an unexpected result of the war.

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