Blindsided – The United States and North African Unrest

Issue & Policy Briefs March 10, 2011, No. 59

For the last fifty years, U.S. foreign policy vis-à-vis Arab and Middle Eastern nations has been dominated by two big issues: the Israeli state and secure access to oil. Even if the United States is today much less dependant on oil from autocratic regimes in the region, the events of September 9, 2001 made the Arab and Islamic nations the key issue of U.S. foreign policy. In no particular order it meant Iran, Iraq and of course Israel/Palestine. Developments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya during recent weeks have turned the table and forced the U.S. (and the European Union) into ad hoc crisis management.