Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 08/2008

The New Arab Diplomacy: Not With the U.S. and Not Against the U.S.

Mohammed Herzallah, Marina Ottaway

July 2008

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


Arab countries are undertaking diplomatic initiatives that clearly contradict U.S. policy, because they no longer trust the U.S. capacity to contend with escalating regional crises. Even Arab countries traditionally aligned with the United States are no longer willing to follow Washington's lead on policies toward Iran, Lebanon, or Hamas, concludes a new paper from the Carnegie Middle East Program.

Marina Ottaway and Mohammed Herzallah assess the diplomatic efforts of Arab regimes seeking to fill the power vacuum left by the absence of a strong regime in Iraq and ineffectual U.S. policy in The New Arab Diplomacy: Not With the U.S. and Not Against the U.S.

Key Conclusions:

The authors conclude:

"The question going forward is whether the new assertiveness and diplomatic activism, and with them the divergence from U.S. policies, will continue. This is a question of great importance to the new U.S. administration. Except in the case of Egypt, the foreign policies of the countries discussed depend heavily on the position taken by individual leaders, so they could easily change. However, Gulf countries are now richer, more developed, and courted by many for their oil, gas, and investment, and thus are less likely to simply follow the U.S. lead without questions. Whether the policies of these countries will diverge from those of the United States depends as much on U.S. choices as on theirs."