Strategic Effects of Conflict with Iraq: The Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey

  • March 01, 2003
  • Dr W Andrew Terrill

War with Iraq signals the beginning of a new era in American national security policy and alters strategic balances and relationships around the world. The specific effects of the war, though, will vary from region to region. The author offers the following conclusions regarding this region of the world. A U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq will place popular pressure on a number of moderate Arab states to reduce high profile military cooperation with the United States. Following a war, Saudi Arabia will probably seek to reduce substantially or eliminate the U.S. military presence in the kingdom due to a more limited regional threat and the domestic difficulties with a U.S. presence. Other Arab nations may continue to cooperate with the U.S. militarily but seek to do so with reduced visibility following an Iraq war. Radical Middle Eastern states are deeply concerned about a U.S. presence in Iraq but will probably be constrained from opposing it through subversion due to fear they may become a future target in the war on terrorism. The politically powerful Turkish military will seek to ensure that U.S.-Turkish ties will remain intact despite disagreements over Iraq. Israel will consider using an invasion of Iraq to expel Palestinian Authority (PA) officials, increasing Arab speculation about U.S.-Israeli coordination against the Arab world. The likelihood of Israel expelling PA leaders will depend upon how the Israelis perceive Washington will respond to such an act.