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Policy Dialogue
US policy towards the Middle East: Is there a role for the EU?

Tuesday, 27 April 2021


Daniel C. Kurtzer
S. Daniel Abraham Professor, Princeton University, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Egypt
Lina Khatib
Director of Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House
Trita Parsi
Executive Vice President, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft


Mihai Chihaia
Policy Analyst, European Policy Centre

This online Policy Dialogue, held on 27 April 2021, examined the United States’ strategy towards the Middle East and the EU’s role in the region. The panel agreed that the Biden administration does not see the Middle East as a priority and would follow a risk-averse policy focusing on containing the existing conflicts. Counterterrorism remains a significant priority, Sahel also being a focal point in the US strategy.

Trita Parsi, Executive Vice President of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, stressed that the less prominent US leadership has important consequences as it creates a basis for regional powers to take responsibility for their own security. Regional powers have started to engage in talks over decreasing tensions. The diplomatic disengagement of the US also opens up space for other actors. Lina Khatib, Director of Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House, drew attention to the risks of US abandonment, noting Russia’s assertive engagement. She also referred to the EU’s insufficient capacity to influence the region but emphasized its potential role in assistance and mediation. Likewise, Daniel C. Kurtzer, S. Daniel Abraham Professor at Princeton University, and former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Egypt, spoke about the prospects for transatlantic cooperation in the region, especially with regard to the return to the JCPOA and the mitigation of conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Libya. Speakers agreed that the EU needs to have a more autonomous and decisive posture in order to chart its own path in the region. The discussion was moderated by Mihai Sebastian Chihaia, EPC Policy Analyst.

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