Dr. Waleed Hazbun “China, the United States, and the Reconfiguration of Middle East Geopolitics: New Possibilities for Conflict and Order”

Book Chapter


Dr. Waleed Hazbun (University of Alabama)

Published: 04/05/2024

Book Title:

The Global South In An Era Of Great Power Competition. Security in Context Report 24-01


In the past two decades China has expanded its influence in the Middle East, working towards what I call “soft integration,” focused on building economic ties through trade and infrastructure development. In contrast, the United States has continued to prioritize what I call “hard integration,” focused on strategic alliances with security commitments, basing of military assets, and the integration of regional defense systems. An ongoing challenge is that the two integration processes are increasingly encountering points of conflict leading to stresses in regional geopolitics. A pressing question for the future is how the United States and China will adapt to these stresses. I argue that a U.S. role as a regional security provider and an expanding Chinese role fostering economic connectivity could coexist productively. Doing so, however, will require the development of a new set of norms for geopolitical competition and mutual embracing of a more pluralist vision for global order. Failure to do so risks increased instability in the Middle East and heightens the possibilities for great power conflict.