The American-Led Order in the Middle East Is Dying
The United Arab Emirates announced May 31 that it has pulled out of the Combined Maritime Forces. The cmf is an American-led coalition force of 37 nations headquartered in Bahrain. Its purposes include countering illegal activities such as piracy in places like the Persian Gulf. It also serves as a “united front” to counter Iranian influence in the region. The alliance includes various countries in the Middle East and Europe and even countries as far away as Brazil, Singapore and the Philippines.
The Persian Gulf exits into the Arabian Sea and the rest of the world through the Strait of Hormuz, a roughly 30-mile-wide choke point bordered by Iran. Iran is an Islamist theocracy bent on disrupting the world order. It is unpredictable and pushes at the West wherever it can. The Strait of Hormuz is also the exit point of about 17 million barrels of oil a day. The cmf’s presence in the Gulf protects this vital route from being disrupted.
Gulf Arab states like the U.A.E., which rely heavily on the oil trade through the Strait of Hormuz for their economies, are especially vulnerable. Most are also America-oriented monarchies vulnerable to extremism as sponsored by Iran. Every other country on the Persian Gulf—Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and even Iraq and Qatar (two countries friendly with Iran)—contribute to the force. One would think the U.A.E. would have every incentive to stay in the force.
Even stranger is that the United States and the cmf are insisting the U.A.E. is still a member state. The cmf’s website still lists the U.A.E. as a member state. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins, a U.S. Navy spokesman, said, “cmf remains a multinational partnership of 38 nations, of which the U.A.E. is one.” Hawkins excused the U.A.E.’s actions by claiming “participation [in cmf] is typically rotational for many of our partners.”
Either the U.A.E. is making its status deliberately ambiguous or there is a spat between it and the U.S.
To add another wrinkle, the U.A.E.’s announcement came a day after the Wall Street Journal published an article about friction between the U.A.E. and America. On April 27 and May 3, Iran seized two oil tankers. The first was shipping Kuwaiti oil to Texas, while the second was transiting between the U.A.E. ports of Dubai and Fujairah. The U.A.E. didn’t think the United States was fulfilling its mission of protecting trade in the Persian Gulf.
This is not the first time such issues have been raised. In January 2022, an Iranian proxy in Yemen launched a drone attack in Abu Dhabi that killed three people. The U.S. took two weeks to respond in any meaningful way. The U.A.E. took the delay to heart; Emirati leader Mohammed bin Zayed snubbed Biden.
“In the tumultuous Middle East, reliability and predictability are essential attributes in an ally,” the Trumpet wrote in our March 2019 issue. “Arab nations and Israel will gladly accept all the weapons and financial support America is willing to give. But given that the region is a powder keg, they simply cannot risk depending on the U.S. to come to their defense in the face of Iranian aggression, regardless of speeches by a U.S. secretary of state. The search for new allies is underway.”
The United Arab Emirates has every incentive to stay in the Combined Maritime Forces—except that the force is failing to fulfill its mandate. If anything, publicly siding with America would make the U.A.E. more of a target. Separating from the cmf—and so far being the only Gulf Arab state to do so—could be the U.A.E.’s signal to Iran to leave its ships alone. Iran, always the opportunist to humiliate America, may oblige. This could lead to other cmf members leaving the bloc.
Saudi Arabia has made several overtures to Iran in recent days. Israel, meanwhile, has been calling on China rather than the U.S. to bring about an Iran nuclear deal. One by one, America’s friends in the region are turning their backs on the U.S. and looking for alternate security arrangements. And most of this has to do with Iran.
The United States and Iran remain adversaries on paper, but the current presidency has done everything it can to give Iran what it wants. The U.S. has given Iran billions of dollars and plans to give it billions more. The U.S. allows Iran to ramp up its nuclear program without a nuclear deal. America’s allies are distancing themselves. This isn’t because of sudden hostility; they’ve been left with little choice.
Daniel 11:40 is a prophecy of an end-time clash between two “kings.” The “king of the north” is a European power bloc led by Germany. The “king of the south” is a radical Islamist bloc led by Iran. Verses 41 to 43 show the wider Middle East will get sucked into this conflict.
Notice the king of the south, Iran, is described as “pushy”—provocative and belligerent. But who does it push against? Not the United States, but Europe. America has an oversize level of influence in the Middle East right now. But its omission from the Daniel 11 prophecy is an ominous harbinger that this will soon change.
Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry writes in The King of the South:
The prophecies we have studied in this booklet point to a time when the United States is no longer a major player in the Middle East. Once America is gone, this king of the south will set its sights on another target: the king of the north. … Think seriously about the fact that this [coming war] will not occur at the hands of America or Britain. These nations aren’t even involved in this prophesied war! That is because they are going to fall into social and economic ruin before this prophecy is even fulfilled! The time when Britain and America were superpowers, or kings, is history.
The United States used to be the main power broker in the Middle East. America’s enemies can see this is no longer the case. So can America’s allies. The question is: Does America itself see this?
To learn more, read “America Is Back … ing Out.”