Daniel Korski and Ben Judah argue that the "three pillars of US post-World War II power in the Middle East - commercial ties, military bases and client states - are crumbling." They note China and the Far East's rise:
America used to be the essential trade partner for the Gulf countries, but this has now changed. In 2009, Saudi Arabia exported 57% of its 2009 crude oil to the Far East, and just 14% to the US. Responding to this underlying shift, King Abdullah has been pursuing a “look East” policy since 2005, resulting in trade worth more than $60 billion.
This eastward shift has made China a bigger trading partner than the US for both Qatar and the UAE. And almost a quarter of Qatar’s trade is with China, compared to just over 5% with the US. Likewise, 37% of the UAE’s trade is with China, India, and South Korea. To many Middle East states, what China wants is now just as important as US interests.
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