The United States and the Middle East have had a contentious relationship for decades. However, during the time, the situation has evolved dramatically. 

Considering how quickly the political arena shifts, it can be difficult to keep up with the Middle East political state. If you’re looking for a simple guide to get you up to date, check out the 5 key issues below. 

1. U.S. Sanctions on Iran

The U.S. sanctions on Iran are nothing new, but they do change somewhat with each presidency. They first began with President Jimmy Carter’s 1979 sanctions in response to the Iran hostage crisis. 

Since 1979, the desire for tougher sanctions has largely increased in the American political arena. With the current Trump administration, tensions are higher than ever before.

Since President Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the country is far less cooperative. Now, Iran plans to ramp up its nuclear projects and even shot down an American drone.

2. Kurdish-Turkish Conflict

Again, the Kurdish-Turkish conflict is nothing new. Since the late 1970’s, Kurdish people have wanted a separation from the state of Turkey. The state of Turkey has also had difficulty appeasing its Kurdish population. 

Although the Turkish government is on the offensive, the Kurds are considered allies to America. However, the Trump administration is not interested in staying in Syria. In fact, President Donald Trump may have encouraged the current Turkish invasion of Syrian Kurds.

Now, Kurdish Syrians are looking to Assad and Russia for help against the Turks. According to Iranforeignpolicy, both are foes of the United States, so it’s important to watch how it plays out.  

3. Reconsolidating Syria

Since 2011, the Arab Spring has been liberating people from despots, albeit with a high price in human lives and economic stability. Syria was one country the world has been watching for eight years now. 

Unfortunately, the people did not win this one. As of this October, American troops withdrew from northeast Syria and a Turkish invasion is taking place. Syria remains deeply fractured.

While the regions under Assad’s control are consolidating, the Kurdish regions are under attack. The future of southeast Syria and the Idlib are also uncertain. 

4. Protests in Sudan

Sudan has long been a region riddled with conflict. Since 2018, however, the people have risen and demanded a better life. Their efforts led to the fall of 30-year despot Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. 

Although the Sudanese succeeded in deposing a dictator, they still have a long road ahead of them. They still face constant violence from the Rapid Support Forces. In the road ahead, watch out for dangerous allies and consolidation efforts. 

5. The Riyadh Summit

The G20 Riyadh Summit in 2020 is one of the few optimistic events on the horizon. Saudi Arabia hopes to use this time to develop better conditions in the MENA region. 

With Saudi Arabia’s resources, optimistic leaders hope to create sustainable Arab answers to Arab problems, drawing on the strengths of the region to do so.

More on the Middle East Political State

The Middle East political state is still precarious, and it doesn’t seem to be stabilizing anytime soon. Anyone traveling around the region is wise to stay updated on the latest developments. 

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