Chas W. Freeman Jr.
Ambassador Freeman, a visiting scholar at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, served as US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Assistant Secretary of Defense. He was president of the Middle East Policy Council from 1997 to 2009. These remarks to the Institute of Peace and Diplomacy, Canada, were delivered by video link from Washington, DC, on May 19, 2021.
For two centuries, external great powers and their rivalries dominated and manipulated the Middle East. Eventually, the United States emerged as the main regulator of its affairs. Now the interests and interactions of countries within the region itself are the primary drivers of trends and events there. America's primacy in the Middle East is withering as it responds to domestic frustration with failed military interventions in West Asia, shifts its attention to East Asia, competes with the region in global oil and gas markets, and loses the confidence of the region's major actors in its willingness to protect them. A complex new geopolitical geometry is emerging among countries in a region no longer constrained by deference to external powers.
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