RELEASE: CAP Report Calls for Renewed Engagement with Long-Standing Partners in the Middle East

Washington, D.C. — The next U.S. administration has an opportunity to strengthen cooperation with key partners in the Middle East, the Center for American Progress argues in a major report today. The ongoing campaign against the Islamic State is producing tangible results and progress in the fight that could open the door to strengthening diplomatic and economic partnerships in the region to de-escalate existing conflicts and increase government legitimacy and effectiveness in at-risk countries. The report was released at an event featuring U.S. Central Command Commander Gen. Joseph Votel and a panel of Middle East experts.

The report is a team effort that is a product of more than a year of field research across the region and benefited from a series of review sessions. It recommends sustained, long-term engagement with regional partners as the best way to foster security in the region. It calls for the United States to focus that engagement on renewing efforts to promote pluralism, values, and universal human rights.

“With a new administration comes a renewed opportunity to adopt a longer-term approach to the Middle East,” said Brian Katulis, CAP Senior Fellow and lead author of the report. “The United States maintains considerable leverage with many partners in the region, but the next administration needs to move away from the crisis management paradigm that has come to dominate policy.”

In the short term, the proposal calls for immediate and intense outreach to regional partners, culminating in a regional conference by 2018. It calls for proactively countering Iran’s negative influence in the region and compliance with the nuclear deal, as well as using leverage with regional partners to de-escalate existing conflicts in Yemen and Libya and defeat the Islamic State and Al Qaeda. Importantly, the proposal calls for the creation of political-economic compacts that support the legitimacy of governments in at-risk nations.

In the long term, this strategy will include engagement on pluralism and universal human rights that will extend generations. It will provide a road map for U.S. security assistance and cooperation and will improve economic cooperation within the region and without in order to create a more stable Middle East.

Click here to read the report.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at or 202.481.7141.