Back to overview

What Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means for democracy promotion in the Middle East

Shadi Hamid considers the effects of Russia's war in Ukraine on relations between the US and the Middle East, especially in terms of democratic support. President Biden has repeatedly emphasised that the struggle between democracies and autocracies will define the coming era. While Ukrainians have repeatedly shown their desire for democracy and to move closer to NATO and the EU, nations in the Middle East have not embraced democracy in a similar manner. The author cites the examples of changing dynamics with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, identifying a key difference in dealings with autocratic nations: Authoritarians see the world in primarily transactional terms. Loyalties and motivations are drawn not from the citizens, but from a small cadre of officials. He further questions whether such dynamics will fit in with the US' longer-term interests in the region, or if the divisions between democratic and autocratic forces will require a revision of the US approach in the region.

Read the full piece here at the Brookings Institution.