The United States remains committed to playing an active role in the world and in the Persian Gulf region in particular. Indeed, “U.S. defense cooperation with the countries of region has never been stronger,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson.
A serious challenge in the region is the rise of various splinter terrorist groups that are trying to undermine and overthrow regional governments. This is certainly the case in Syria and Iraq.
“I believe we can do much together,” said Assistant Secretary Patterson, “to contain and roll back the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s aspirations to create a terrorist state in western Iraq and eastern Syria. ISIL draws on the widespread anger in the region and beyond over the Assad regime’s brutal repression of its people -- repression supported by Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.”
To defeat ISIL, the United States and the countries of the region need to work in concert to develop effective policies and solutions to this dangerous threat.
Counter terrorism strategies sometimes require the use of military power, but diplomacy and development must also be used to undermine the appeal that terrorists still can have for angry, disenfranchised and unemployed young people.
Part of the challenge is job creation. This region has a very large youth population, but there will be no stability in the Middle East until the large numbers of unemployed young men can find good jobs. Improving the prospects of young people across the region will require increased investment, open markets, intra-regional trade, and cooperation among the Gulf countries and Europe and the United States.
Prosperity will require widespread reform of Arab economies to depend less on subsidies, to slow the growth in public employment, and to curb energy demand.
And finally, political stability in the region remains a significant challenge. There is a need for new thinking to address the intensity and depth of sectarian issues that threaten regional peace.
The Middle East has entered a new era, one in which the demands of people for greater access to legitimate political power and economic opportunity are growing. These demands will not go away. The United States is looking for ways to align ourselves more effectively, politically and economically, with the Middle East as a long-term partner for peace and economic growth.