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The Middle East has suffered immensely from civil wars, especially in the decade following the Arab Spring. Hundreds of thousands have died, millions have fled from their homes, and untold numbers have been subjected to poverty and repression in places from Libya to Iraq and Syria to Yemen.
American policymakers have attempted to blame the chaos on “malign activities” by U.S. rivals, but a new paper by Matthew Petti and Trita Parsi, “No Clean Hands: The Interventions of Middle Eastern Powers, 2010-2020,” suggests that the picture is more complicated. U.S. partners and allies are behind many of the region’s proxy interventions and have gotten increasingly aggressive in recent years. And they have fought each other as much as they have fought against U.S. rivals.
How will — or should — this reality impact U.S. policy, since five out of the six most interventionist states in the region are armed and politically supported by the United States? And what leverage does Washington have to roll back the malign activities of regional powers — friends and enemies alike?