The latest U.S. National Security Strategy released this month singled out China as “America’s most consequential geopolitical challenge,” and nowhere is that contest more on display than in the Middle East. After decades of fighting wars in the region and cozying up to undemocratic governments who many in Washington find distasteful, there’s a growing perception that the U.S. has now had enough and is looking to disengage.
At the same time, China’s interests in the broader Mideast North Africa region have increased markedly in recent years, most notably in the energy sector. Over the past 15 years, the Chinese have transitioned sizable portions of their oil and gas buys from African countries (Sudan, Angola, and the Republic of Congo) to the Persian Gulf (Saudi Arabia, UAE/Iran, and Qatar).
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