Despite the constant barrage of headlines coming from the region, the U.S. appears to be withdrawing from most of the Middle East. We're gone from Iraq, will soon leave Afghanistan and we've backed away from trying to solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem or take a stand in the Syrian civil war. That's the word from Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies and a professor at the University of Oklahoma.
"We've sort of closed down on the Gulf and said, look, we want to keep our hands on the oil spigot. Because that runs the world. And if we can do that, that's enough for us," Landis says. "In many ways, that's what America seems to be doing, is just shrinking back toward the Gulf and oil, and abandoning this other region to Turkey and Saudi Arabia and others."
Landis says this "withdrawal" doesn't bode well for those hoping to establish democracies in the wake of the Arab Spring. He's taking part in a three-day conference on the Middle East at the Patel Center on USF's Tampa campus.