Is America’s Balancing Act in the Gulf Sustainable?

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Bottom Line: As the ongoing dispute between Qatar and Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates enters its eighth month, the U.S. has been forced to strike a delicate balance in its dealings with critical allies in the Middle East. At the same time, the volatility triggered by this divide has paved the way for Iran to expand its subversive regional activity without encountering resistance posed by a unified Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). To this point, the U.S. appears to have taken a neutral position, but increasingly risks jeopardizing ties to both sides as Iran continues to build momentum in its quest to form a Shia crescent spanning the Middle East.

Background: Tensions between Qatar and its neighbors date back years, but reached a boiling point last summer when the aforementioned Arab nations engaged in diplomatic warfare to pressure Qatar to sever alleged ties with extremist groups among other charges, which Qatar denies.

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