The credibility of any American assurances, including strategic assurances against external threats from Iran, for these regimes therefore has been dramatically degraded.
The chances of democracy in Tunisia are greater than in any other country in the region.
The revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya were the result of developments within the countries themselves: deep economic and social malaise and the perception of the loss of domestic deterrence by ossified regimes led by aging leaders.
However, the popular perception that the United States had abandoned its erstwhile allies to support those revolutions facilitated their spread to other theaters.
The rationale for such engagement is rooted in a belief that these parties are not irrevocably anti-American but angry over American and Western support of Israel and of autocratic and oppressive regimes in their countries.
Thus, they will respond to changes in the American policies on these issues. has influenced events in Tunisia and Egypt, its power is limited to deconstruction and is not enough to be constructive.
This turnabout in American policy is not seen in the region as reflecting American power though intervention, but rather the decline of American power, manifested in a policy of “bandwagoning” after years of proactive American policy.
Clearly, the decline of American projection of power in the region will have as profound an effect as the projection of American power had at its height.
This perception was not unfounded; the Obama administration came to office with an agenda, according to which the United States is strategically overstretched and must implement a drastic reduction in its strategic profile.
Such a change could be brought about, according to the worldview of the administration, only through engagement and dialogue with those very forces which had been perceived as anathema to the previous administration and by eschewing the confrontation — the projection (not to mention actual use) of hard power and unilateralism — which characterized the Bush administration. The hallmark of the policy of the Obama administration towards the Middle East is its strategy of engagement with the Muslim world.
For over two decades, the United States has been the predominant superpower in the region and the main force in maintaining the status quo.
However, today, the Middle East is undergoing a sea change.
By coming out swinging against Iran, Trump is stoking fears of unpredictable escalation to make the Iranians back down from further provocations, while sending a signal to other challengers that it is unwise to test the new administration.