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HomeThink tank analysis: Insecure Arabs Pin Hopes on American Support

Think tank analysis: Insecure Arabs Pin Hopes on American Support


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In an ever-evolving geopolitical landscape, countries in the Arab world are increasingly looking to secure their interests and stability through formalized security agreements with the United States.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), two of America’s closest allies in the Middle East, have expressed concerns about the growing influence of China in the region. They are now seeking more concrete security support from the U.S., reflecting a changing geopolitical dynamic.


The Shifting Sands of Middle East Alliances


In recent times, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have signaled their willingness to diversify their international partnerships, indicating that they are not solely reliant on the United States for security cooperation. While these nations value their longstanding relationship with the U.S., they are navigating a complex international landscape where emerging powers like China are asserting their presence.


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) emphasized in a recent interview that the U.S. must recognize the importance of maintaining arms deals and military cooperation with Saudi Arabia. This sentiment highlights the concerns among Arab nations that their arms procurement strategies may shift towards other global players.


Anwar Gargash, the diplomatic adviser to the UAE President, acknowledged the positive role played by the U.S. in the Middle East but stressed the need to formalize this involvement further. He emphasized that solidifying security arrangements is essential to avoid creating power vacuums that could be exploited by other actors.


The Quest for Formal Security Agreements


Saudi Arabia and the UAE have articulated the need to move beyond informal security arrangements and establish more formalized security agreements with the United States. The crux of this demand lies in ensuring the safety of Gulf states in the face of potential military threats, particularly from Iran and its proxies.


Recent attacks, which Gulf states have attributed to Iran and its proxies, have underscored their vulnerability and the inadequacy of the U.S. response. This vulnerability has prompted calls for a substantive security commitment from the United States, which would serve as a deterrent to potential aggressors.


Experts argue that a security pact forms a pivotal component in discussions between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. regarding the normalization of ties with Israel. The outcome of these talks could have significant implications for regional stability and the balance of power in the Middle East.


Challenges and Uncertainties


While Saudi Arabia and the UAE are advocating for comprehensive treaties akin to those signed with Japan and South Korea, challenges lie ahead. It remains uncertain whether the United States is willing to commit to a treaty that would necessitate defending Gulf states in the event of an attack.


A Senate-ratified treaty would be required to provide such commitments, and political dynamics in Congress, influenced by concerns over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, may impede the process.


Some experts argue that any agreement with the United States could curtail Gulf states’ autonomy over their defense affairs. Washington may seek assurances that its allies reduce engagement with rival powers like China and Russia. The UAE’s suspension of a multi-billion-dollar deal to procure F-35 fighter jets due to restrictions on Chinese technology is a case in point.




The push for formalized security agreements with the United States demonstrates the importance of Washington in the eyes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, despite their exploration of alternative partnerships. The evolving geopolitical landscape in the Middle East is prompting these nations to seek more concrete security assurances to safeguard their interests and sovereignty.


In a world where global powers like China are increasingly asserting their influence in the region, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are navigating complex diplomatic waters. The outcomes of their negotiations with the United States will not only shape their security dynamics but also influence the broader geopolitical landscape of the Middle East.

Muhammad Arshad
Muhammad Arshad
Mr Arshad is is an experienced journalist who currently holds the position of Deputy Editor (Editorial) at The Think Tank Journal.

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