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The Gulf Is Where It's At

Author: Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
February 8, 2012
International Herald Tribune

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The paradox of the new Middle East is that as America's influence declines, its ability to sustain its essential interests remains intact.

Despite all the exhilarating and disturbing changes in Egypt and the Levant, the center of gravity of the region has moved to the Gulf. And while the challenges of the Gulf are daunting, they are more familiar to Washington and more susceptible to its strategies.

The strategic relevance of Egypt and Syria stems from their connection to the notion that the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will transform the Middle East to America's liking.

But the stalemated Israeli-Palestinian conflict is likely to remain frozen. If there were a peace treaty, it could ease some of Israel's security concerns and relieve the Palestinians of the burdens of occupation, but it would have a limited impact on a region struggling with sectarian identities, resurgent religious parties and the specter of nuclear proliferation.

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