It is clear that the era of US hegemony in the Gulf, and the Middle East more broadly, is over. What is less certain is what security system will replace it and whether it will better serve regional security and US interests.

The Gulf is becoming a more crowded geopolitical space than ever, with external powers such as China, Russia and India increasing their involvement in the region to safeguard their economic interests, while local powers, most notably Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar, are rising and pursuing a more independent foreign policy course.

This shift away from US guardianship and toward greater multilateralism is precisely what Washington has preached and sought for a decade and a half. When US regional partners are able and willing to step up, as several of them have in some areas, Washington feels more confident about drawing down and paying closer attention to the Indo-Pacific and European theaters.

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