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Opinion
Hal Brands

How to Make the Middle East Even Worse? A U.S. Withdrawal

It’s tempting to tell the Saudis to take care of themselves, but they have shown they are really bad at it.

Armed and ready?

Armed and ready?

Photographer: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

What does the sad story of Jamal Khashoggi — the Saudi journalist who went into the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul and never came out — have to do with debates about U.S. policy in the Middle East? Quite a lot.

For those who think Washington can simply turn over the management of Middle Eastern geopolitics to the countries of the region, Khashoggi’s disappearance is one more reminder that things are not so simple. A post-American Middle East will not be stable and peaceful. It will be even nastier and more turbulent than it is today.