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Regional row shows weakening U.S. leadership in Middle East
The long-simmering conflict between two major Middle East powers burst into the open Sunday when Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran after Iranian protesters stormed its embassy in Tehran over Saudi execution of a Shiite cleric.
Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and Shiite-ruled Iran have long been at loggerheads, supporting rival sides in the Syrian and Yemeni conflicts, but an open spat resulting in breakoff of ties still came as a surprise for many.
Viewed in a larger picture, the series of dramatic events further testify to a fact that the United States, a major player in the Middle East, is losing control over the region.
Sticking to a policy of interventionism over years in the region, the United States failed to shoulder the responsibility to earnestly solve the underlying political, social and religious conflicts there, instead it chose to sweep all the problems under the rug.
This practice seems successful in hiding the problems from the world's view for some time, but the so-called "Arab Spring" beginning in 2011 came as a rude wake-up call for Washington, telling Americans that they are not omnipotent.
In the chain events of the "Arab Spring", countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have all lost faith in the United States.
Neither stoking religious conflict nor Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane is in the best interest of the United States as it carries out its anti-terrorism campaign, but the fact that these incidents have occurred time and again reveals that regional countries would rather go their own way when their interests are at odds with those of Washington's.
On the other hand, without a strong political will to engage the region, the United States has also become less committed militarily. Over a year of air campaign against the Islamic State has yielded limited results while promised training programs for local agents are admitted to be a failure even by U.S. officials.
In economy, the United States has little to showcase either. In Libya and Yemen, where the "Arab Spring" has largely destroyed their institutions and infrastructure, the United States has been absent from their rebuilding efforts, leaving people there in instability.
The United States may well have excuses for being less involved in the Middle East, such as its less reliance on regional resources or its pivot to Asia, but a rushed retreat that leaves nothing but chaos in the region is just as irresponsible as its reckless intervention in the region.
Pressing needs, most notably rampant terror activities around the globe, demand that the United States play a constructive role and do more for the people in the region it promised to help.
[Source: Xinhua, Beijing, 06Jan16]
State of Exception
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