Middle East cooperation appears to be breaking out — the untold story | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

Middle East cooperation appears to be breaking out — the untold story

To many in the U.S. foreign policy establishment, the images of chaos at Kabul airport last month appeared to vindicate an article of faith in Washington — when the U.S. leaves, chaos ensues.

But while all eyes were on Afghanistan, an arguably more consequential event occurred in Baghdad as a direct result of Washington’s military shift away from the Middle East: Saudi, Iranian and Emirati foreign ministers were coming together at a regional security summit hosted by the Iraqi government. Rather than chaos, the Baghdad summit provided a different message: As the U.S. steps back militarily, regional states are compelled to step forward diplomatically.

The untold story in the Middle East of the past few months is the dramatic increase in diplomatic activity between regional actors and initiated by the region’s own states. The United Arab Emirates and Turkey have sought to resolve their tensions, with Emirati National Security Adviser Tahnoon bin Zayed meeting with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara last month. The two powers have been at each other’s throats in numerous theaters in the Middle East, including Libya, clinching the title of the region’s two most interventionist states for the past decade. Erdogan’s Turkey has been a key backer of the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Emiratis view as their primary ideological threat. And Turkey believes the UAE went for its jugular back in 2016, by supporting the failed military coup against Erdogan. Now they appear intent on reducing their political tensions by increasing economic collaboration.