Russia’s War on Ukraine Heats Up Great Power Competition in the Middle East and North Africa


Russia’s War on Ukraine Heats Up Great Power Competition in the Middle East and North Africa

Sep 27, 2023 26 min read
Nicole Robinson

Senior Research Associate, Middle East

Nicole is a Senior Research Associate in the Allison Center for National Security at The Heritage Foundation.
Trilateral Summit Iran-Russia-Turkey in Tehran, Iran, September 7, 2018. Mikhail Svetlov / Contributor / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

MENA is of strategic importance to Russia, China, and the United States.

Too much is at stake for the United States to do nothing.

It is crucial that the United States seizes this historical moment to strengthen its relationships with regional allies and partners.

“The evidence on the ground is that Russia is moving toward an imminent invasion. This is a crucial moment.”1 

This statement by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Linda Thomas-Greenfield, issued to the media on 17 February 2022, echoed months of intelligence that the United States used to convince its allies in the West that the Kremlin was “days away” from invading Ukraine.2 One week later, on 24 February, Russian troops crossed the border into Ukraine, the first step in a multi-pronged strategy to take over the country. The United States and most of the West were quick to condemn the invasion, promising a united and decisive response from the world that would hold Russia accountable.

Not all Western allies were on board. Although many countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) labeled the events “concerning,” they urged “diplomacy and de-escalation from both sides.”4  With Russia preoccupied by its ambitions in Ukraine, MENA countries have a unique opportunity to re-envision their complicated relationships with China and the United States in three areas: arms, energy, and trade. 

The Nature of the Competition

MENA is of strategic importance to Russia, China, and the United States because of its location as a global crossroads, its abundant energy resources, and its investment potential. Comprised of 18 countries, the region links Europe, Africa, and Asia and is home to key maritime trade chokepoints which include the Bab al-Mandab Strait, the Strait of Hormuz, and the Suez Canal.5 Access to these important trade routes is critical to project economic and political power in a globalized world. 

The region is also home to 57 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves and 41 percent of proven natural gas resources.6 Finally, the region is an untapped market with young consumers that are hungry for products and cutting-edge technology from markets inside and outside the region.7 

Tapping into the resources that this region offers, however, requires a nuanced understanding of the 18 countries that make MENA unique. Governance models vary with both republics and monarchies, a diversity of religions and ethnicities, and both low- and high-income nations. This dynamic nature creates a unique geostrategic context for the United States, Russia, and China to navigate. 

The MENA Arena of Great Power Competition

From 1950 to 1991, the MENA region was a battleground for Soviet-American competition over commercial and military access, global energy, and soft-power influence. Countries split into three camps: those that aligned with the United States and the West, those that aligned with the Soviet Union, and those that supported neither power and became known as part of the “non-aligned movement.” Although competition was fierce between the two great powers, the United States cemented its influence over MENA countries through energy cooperation, arms sales, and mediation of the region’s major internal conflicts.8 Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States enjoyed unchallenged influence over the MENA region because it acted as a security guarantor, a reliable trade partner, and a credible mediator to solve the region’s many political, social, and economic challenges. U.S. policy following the events of 11 September 2001 was a turning point for U.S. prestige in the MENA region. Blunders in Iraq and Afghanistan, failed leadership during the Arab Spring, and overtures to Iran opened the doors for Russia and China to step in. 

 Russia’s military intervention in 2015 to aid Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the Syrian civil war set the stage for greater involvement in the region.9 After 2015, Russia rekindled old Soviet-era relationships and forged new ones with traditional U.S. allies by trying to market itself as a more reliable partner that talked to all sides—Iran, Israel, and Sunni Gulf countries like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. These relationships were strengthened by the sale of Russian arms in the region, but were weakened by the lack of significant trade and investment flows.   

Having learned from the mistakes of both great powers, China’s approach combined the strategic neutrality of Russia with U.S. institutionalization of relationships through trade and investment. Russia’s decline in the 1990s combined with a U.S. security umbrella allowed China to expand trade and energy ties with regional countries. China claimed to not interfere in the domestic affairs of its partners, something very appealing in a region exhausted by intervention. Beijing remained a junior partner following Russian re-engagement in the region, but U.S. weakness following the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan encouraged greater Chinese engagement. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a turning point for China. With the decline of Russian engagement in the MENA region, China stepped in to compete with the United States for regional influence. 

The stakes are high for the United States. Decades of influence in the MENA region allowed the United States to project power globally, but now China is making inroads in the region at a rapid rate. This should set off alarm bells in Washington. The United States is entering a new Cold War with China and the MENA region is at the center of great power competition. To win the competition, China and the United States will each need to win over MENA countries using three mechanisms: arms, energy, and trade. 

Tools of Statecraft: Arms Sales, Energy Cooperation, and Trade Relations

Since the early days of the conflict, Washington pressed hard to unite its MENA allies against Russia with minimal success. Although most countries eventually voted to condemn Russia’s actions at the United Nations, many MENA countries have not imposed sanctions against Russia and still regularly engage with Russian president Vladimir Putin.10 The strategic calculus of every country is different depending on three factors: how reliant they are on Russia, their perception of U.S. leadership, and what they offer to great powers.  

The Lucrative Arms Market

Arms transfers are a strong instrument for states to maintain long-term bilateral relationships. They are also a significant source of capital, particularly in the MENA region. Eight of the top 25 arms-importing states from 2018–2022 were in MENA.11 Compared to the rest of the world, this region has the highest growth in arms imports, particularly among Persian Gulf states.12 The threat posed by Iran and its regional proxies drive this high demand. Before the war in Ukraine, the United States, France, and Russia exported most arms to the region. China exported very few.13 

Washington dominates the global arms market for high-end, high-tech weapons, but Russia is a leading supplier of cost-effective, lower-tech weapons. Combat aircraft is a particular specialty for the Kremlin, accounting for almost half of its arms exports, followed by engines for aircraft, and missiles.14 Russia’s war on Ukraine will likely have an impact on its global arms exports. It is very difficult to predict future trends in arms transfers, but data on pending deliveries in 2022 showed that Russia dropped behind France and China on orders for aircraft, warships, and tanks.15 This data indicates that Russia’s arms exports will decline in the coming years. There are a few reasons why this may be the case. First, the war in Ukraine exposed fundamental design flaws and outdated or inferior-quality materials used in Russian equipment.16 Second, clients are concerned that Moscow will be unable to balance domestic demands and export orders if Ukraine and Russia are in a protracted war. Even if the war ends, the massive loss of equipment in Ukraine combined with Western sanctions against Russia’s defense industry will limit Russian arms exports in the future. MENA countries that are clients of Russia will need to find alternative suppliers.   

The United States is already a major supplier of combat aircraft, arms and munitions, and drones for MENA countries. This is because U.S. arms are battle-tested and viewed as superior products compared to their competitors. U.S. equipment, however, is expensive and the acquisition process is complicated and time consuming.17 Most of China’s equipment is not battle-tested and is essentially reverse-engineered Russian equipment, but it supplies lower-tech arms and equipment that the United States refuses to sell to MENA countries.18 The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), for example, called for more support from the United States to develop domestic ballistic missile capabilities, but the United States repeatedly refused these requests fearing that it would ignite a regional arms race. As a result, many Gulf countries turned to China. Saudi Arabia purchased long-range ballistic missiles including the DF-3 and DF-21 from Beijing.19 These are strategic weapons for the Kingdom to shore up its deterrence against Iran and its proxies—the Yemeni Houthis, Lebanese Hezbollah, and Palestinian Hamas. In 2021, United States intelligence and satellite images also confirmed that China is helping Saudi Arabia develop its own ballistic missile capabilities.20 

Missile and air defense systems are also highly prized, but in 2021, the United States moved eight Patriot air defense batteries and withdrew the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system from the Gulf. The United States also reduced combat aircraft assigned to the region to “focus the armed services on challenges from Russia and China.”21 To the UAE and Saudi Arabia, these changes signaled U.S. disengagement from the region at a time of heightened tensions with Iran. U.S. relationships with the UAE and Saudi Arabia have suffered as a result. While the Department of State approved the sale of  THAAD missile interceptors to the UAE and Patriot missile interceptors to Saudi Arabia in 2022, there is no guarantee that the United States will continue to resupply these systems.22 Arms sales to the UAE and Saudi Arabia have come under increased scrutiny from Congress due to each country’s role in the war in Yemen and its engagement with Russia since it launched the war in Ukraine. For example, following the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries Plus (OPEC+) decision to cut production, Democratic senators threatened to block all future weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.23 In response, many Gulf countries are exploring alternative options. 

A few countries have expressed interest in buying Israel’s missile defense systems because they are considered some of the best in the world. There are doubts, however, that Israel will be willing to sell this technology because of concerns that Iron Dome technology would be shared with a third party.24 The White House hopes that the Abraham Accords will be a platform to jumpstart development of a regional air-defense system that incorporates Israeli air defense technology. This will be difficult without Saudi Arabia. Reports indicate that the Kingdom is still open to normalization with Israel, but Riyadh’s recent rapprochement with Iran complicates these efforts.25 For now, Gulf countries must rely on the United States to maintain its missile defense capabilities. With U.S. relations strained and the purchase of Israeli defense systems still up in the air, countries in the region may reconsider options they previously rejected.  

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq, Egypt, and Iran have expressed interest in acquiring the Russian S-400 system. Türkiye was the only regional country that purchased the Russian S-400 missile system in 2017—a move that angered its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies and the United States. The S-400 surface-to-air defense system poses a risk to NATO’s collective security and F-35 technology because of its advanced surveillance radar technology. Türkiye was sanctioned as a result and kicked out of the F-35 program.26 This reaction by the United States likely deterred interested MENA buyers from acquiring this technology. Russia may be too occupied in Ukraine to offer the S-400 system, but China provides knockoffs that may tempt MENA countries that question U.S. resolve. China’s defense industry bought, copied, and adapted the Russian-made S-300 and Buk-M1-2 to produce the HQ-9 and HQ-16 surface-to-air missile systems. China also purchased and tested the Russian S-400 in 2014 to improve its own systems.27 Years of acquiring Russian-modeled air defense systems means that China now has a large reserve of military hardware that it can supply not only back to Russia but to MENA countries. China has six of the 25 largest defense firms in the world, moves quickly on military sales with no political stipulations, offers cheaper equipment and technology transfers, and spends a lot of money on research and development.28 If China succeeds in the MENA region, the United States will struggle to work with MENA countries because Chinese equipment cannot be integrated within existing U.S. weapons systems. More importantly, Chinese arms sales to MENA countries give China an opportunity to strengthen military ties with traditional U.S. partners—a major strategic win for China and a significant loss for the United States. 

Despite China’s best efforts, the United States is still the go-to arms supplier in the region. Arms sales are key for the United States to maintain strong bilateral relationships with MENA countries and secure its bases throughout the region. With Russian arms potentially taken out of the global arms market, China will rush to fill the gap. To maintain its military supremacy in the region, the United States must help Gulf partners build their deterrence against Iran with greater defensive capabilities. Ballistic missiles and air defense systems are key. In the absence of U.S. support, Washington’s traditional allies will seek alternative partners like China. During the Cold War, the United States used arms sales to MENA allies to secure energy cooperation and increase bilateral trade with MENA allies. China has the opposite approach. For China, close trade ties and energy sales leave the door open for future arms sales. As war continues to rage in Ukraine, Washington must capitalize on the advantage it has over Beijing in the arms industry. If the United States stands by, Chinese arms sales will drive a bigger wedge between the United States and its regional allies. Arms sales will likely grant Beijing’s military greater access to MENA seaports, which are critical to secure the MENA oil and natural gas supply chains that fuel Beijing’s economy.   

The Volatile Energy Market

Shortages in the global energy market translate to high prices which benefit energy exporters, but hurt energy importers. Shortly after the Ukraine war broke out in 2022, global energy prices skyrocketed. The price of oil jumped to more than $139 USD a barrel while gas prices doubled—the highest levels for both in almost 14 years.29 Much of this price spike was because of Western sanctions against Russia. Russia is the third largest producer of oil and the second largest producer of natural gas. With Russia’s oil industry sanctioned, the world is now more dependent on other major energy exporters. 

 The Middle East and North Africa accounts for 50 percent of global oil production and 15 percent of gas production.30 Saudi Arabia produces and exports nearly 12 percent of global output. Iraq and the UAE produce a combined total of eight percent of global output.31 Qatar is the world’s largest liquified natural gas exporter in the region and the world, accounting for 21 percent of the global market share.32 Algeria exports only 2.2 percent of the global market share, but has the third largest quantity of untapped shale gas reserves in the world.33 With these critical resources, countries in the region have unique leverage over China and the United States. The United States consumes almost as much oil as it produces, but it has large untapped shale oil and gas reserves that could make the country a global energy superpower. The Biden administration’s decisions to shutter some existing energy production and refuse permission for new exploration, however, make the United States more sensitive to energy market volatility originating from the Middle East.34 While almost all of U.S. natural gas and crude imports come from Canada, Persian Gulf countries in the region supply eight percent of U.S. petroleum and nine percent of U.S. crude oil.35 This percentage is small, but it has an outsized impact. The United States has a vested interest in maintaining the free flow of oil and gas from the region because the U.S. economy remains vulnerable to sudden spikes in world oil prices. Without domestic energy to supplement the market, the United States must rely on MENA countries that are part of OPEC+ to stabilize global energy prices. Saudi Arabia and Russia have major influence over OPEC+ decisions because they are top producers. In the past, they have been at odds with each other, but the war in Ukraine has brought Russia and Saudi Arabia together as both benefit from higher energy prices. The Saudis have denied U.S. requests to increase production on several occasions.

In November 2021 and February 2022, Saudi Arabia declined the United States’ requests to increase oil production, choosing instead to abide by the April 2020 agreement between OPEC+ and Russia to cut production. Then, in April 2023, OPEC+ and Russia announced a massive supply cut totaling 1.6 million barrels per day, causing a $7 USD per barrel jump in oil prices.36 Saudi Arabia stated that the cut was a “precautionary measure aimed at supporting the stability of the oil market,” but these cuts are likely a reflection of the poor state of the U.S-Saudi relationship. Oil cuts keep prices high, which benefits Russia and Saudi Arabia, but hurts the United States and Europe.37 In 2021, Russian gas accounted for 40 percent of the European Union’s gas demand.38 The United States and Europe need new energy supplies for different reasons. Europe must wean itself off Russian gas by improving its relationships with resource-rich MENA countries. The United States needs more energy suppliers to increase the overall energy availability in the market and decrease global energy prices. To accomplish both goals, France, Germany, and Italy have made multiple trips to North Africa to secure alternative energy supplies.39 Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Qatar are also potential energy sources for Europe, but Western countries will need to compete with China. 

The expansion of China’s economy has increased its domestic energy consumption and dependence on the Persian Gulf. In 2021, China consumed over 700 million metric tons of oil, compared to just 450 million metric tons in 2010.40 50.7 percent of Chinese energy is sourced from four countries in the Persian Gulf—Saudi Arabia (17.4 percent), Oman (8.8 percent), Kuwait (6.2 percent), and the UAE (6.1 percent).41 China is predicted to double its Middle East oil imports by 2035.42 This dramatic increase will make Beijing increasingly reliant on energy resources from the region. This dependence will grant China more political influence, but will also place more pressure on China to be an active great power in the region. China, however, does not have the ability to project hard power in the region like the United States, which operates at least 18 military facilities in the Middle East.43 These facilities range from small outposts and military encampments shared with host nations, to major air and naval bases under full U.S. control. Beijing, meanwhile, has only one known overseas base along the Red Sea in Djibouti. 

Today, however, regional allies question U.S. global leadership. This assessment is based on the policies of the Obama and Biden administrations. In a speech in front of the Australian parliament on 17 November 2011, President Barack Obama declared that the United States would “pivot” to Asia.44 This “pivot” opened the door for Russian aggression in Europe and Iranian aggression in the Middle East. Although President Donald Trump strengthened U.S. leadership in the MENA region through hard power deterrence against Iran and the Abraham Accords, the Biden administration’s appeasement of Russia via Nord Stream 2 and Iran via nuclear negotiations angered U.S. partners and allies in the MENA region. Russia’s war in Ukraine and consequent spike in oil prices gave MENA countries leverage to renegotiate their relationships with the United States and pursue engagement with China on their own terms. U.S. naval protection of Middle Eastern shipping lanes makes Chinese oil imports vulnerable because the United States can cut off oil exports to China in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. U.S. military power projection in the MENA region gives it a huge advantage over China. Moving forward, the United States should have three goals: to reassure its MENA partners and allies that it is a committed security partner, reduce European dependency on Russian energy by strengthening its relations with MENA countries, and lift restrictions to advance its own energy production as it would lessen the impact of production cuts by OPEC+ countries on the U.S. economy. 

The Bright Future of Trade

In an increasingly globalized world, trade is interconnected and sensitive to supply chain disruptions. For global trade to flourish, it is important that trade access points are secure and there is freedom of navigation across key maritime zones. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused a disruption in maritime supply chain networks, which significantly impacted world trade. Between 80-90 percent of world trade is transported by sea in container ships that must use ports to transfer goods across markets.45 Russia’s war in Ukraine illustrates how supply chain disruptions drive up prices and can cause shortages. Russia and Ukraine export key commodities like grain, corn, and fertilizer to global food markets. Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the price of wheat shot up to $12.09 USD per bushel—the price was $7.86 USD in January 2022.46 The blockade of Ukrainian grains by Russian warships in the Black Sea drove up food prices and ignited fear of future shortages. Although the UN and Türkiye helped negotiate a grain deal between Russia and Ukraine to maintain exports of key commodities, there are no guarantees that the deal will last.47 If anything, Russia’s war in Ukraine is an important lesson for countries dependent on commodities from one or two suppliers. MENA food markets, in particular, were hit hard by the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine because the majority of Ukraine’s wheat imports go to MENA.48 To decrease vulnerabilities to market shocks, MENA countries must diversify their supply chains. 

The United States has close trade ties with many countries in the region. Saudi Arabia and the UAE account for 57 percent of total U.S. exports to the region. Morocco, Jordan, Oman, Israel, and Bahrain also have close trade ties with the United States because of free trade agreements.49 The Abraham Accords have created opportunities for expanded trade. For example, in late July 2022, an agreement was signed between Israel, the UAE, and India with the support of the United States to establish a Middle East Food Corridor. This corridor will help India maximize crop output through new technologies from Israel, exporting food from India to the Middle East via UAE ports.50 This agreement demonstrates how the Abraham Accords can be operationalized to address regional supply chain challenges. To explore additional trade opportunities, the United States, Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Israel established the Negev Forum in March 2022 as part of the Abraham Accords.51 The forum consists of working groups focused on clean energy, education and co-existence, food and water security, health, regional security, and tourism.52 It is unclear what progress, if any, has been made in these working groups. Negev Forum ministerial meetings have been postponed on two occasions—once in March 2023 and again in June 2023.53 With greater U.S. support, interregional cooperation through the Abraham Accords can mitigate supply chain challenges and create regional trade opportunities that would make Gulf countries less tempted by China.  

Through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China is now one of the largest trading partners and investors in the MENA region. China pledged billions of dollars in loans and aid to the region, has BRI cooperation agreements with 18 MENA countries, and is building key infrastructure in the region.54 Arab Gulf countries serve as gateways to export Chinese products to Middle Eastern, European, and African markets. Bilateral trade between Arab Gulf countries and China therefore has grown five-fold since 2000, overtaking the United States’ coveted position as the region’s top trading partner in 2020.55 China-MENA trade was $132.5 billion USD larger than U.S.-MENA trade, a gap that has grown over the years.56 BRI looks to build upon these strong trade ties by working with regional countries to advance their development goals. Saudi Arabia and the UAE, for example, work closely with China to diversify their economies away from energy through Chinese investments in commercial infrastructure, technology, and other non-oil sectors. 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine creates new opportunities for China to strengthen its trade and investment with MENA countries because of its trade challenges in Europe. Europe relies on Russian railways and corridors to trade with China.57 Sanctions and supply chain disruptions will incentivize Beijing to build alternative supply chains for energy and food. The MENA region is perfectly positioned to fill the gap caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine. 

China has invested a lot of money in seaports in the MENA region. Much of China’s investments target commercial port infrastructure along strategic chokepoints such as the Suez Canal, the Strait of Hormuz, and the Bab al-Mandab Strait.58 Infrastructure investments in seaports are ostensibly commercial, but can later be turned into naval support bases for China. Under the guise of BRI, China could tighten its hold over the world’s strategic energy, trade, and military corridors. 

The United States has used its security relationships to secure naval access across the region, but these relationships must be complimented by close economic ties. Supply chain disruption caused in part by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine gives the United States and China an opportunity to strengthen regional supply chains through two competing mechanisms.  

The Abraham Accords serves as a mechanism to both address weak supply chains and ensure the United States remains the partner of choice for MENA countries. For China, BRI serves to strengthen its relationships with MENA countries to secure its energy supplies, expand its maritime access, and create long-term relationships that can challenge Washington. 


MENA countries do not want to be taken for granted by Washington. With the United States focused on Europe and the Indo-Pacific, China is marketing itself as an alternative arms, energy, and trade partner for the region. It has certain advantages over the United States. The transactional nature of China’s bilateral relationships is attractive for MENA countries that do not want to abide by certain expectations set out by the United States. However, well-established U.S. relationships with MENA countries give the United States an advantage over China, for now. To ensure the longevity of U.S. relationships with MENA countries, the United States must recognize the strategic tools it has to maintain its sphere of influence over regional partners. The U.S. arms industry and Washington’s ability to project hard power in the MENA region gives it significant advantages over China. Many countries have expressed that they want more military capabilities to deter Iran. In addition to maintenance of missile and air defense systems, the United States should reevaluate its policies on ballistic missiles to the region, or risk losing its partners to China. As Saudi Arabia demonstrated, U.S. appeasement of Iran can impact energy relationships. Even with greater energy independence, the United States needs major energy exporters to increase production to drive down global energy prices. China’s steady reliance on the MENA region for its energy needs combined with its budding trade relationship through BRI opens the door for trade in arms and military equipment. While the United States cannot force its partners to cut ties with China, the United States can use the Abraham Accords to encourage greater interregional arms, trade, and energy cooperation in a way that advances U.S. interests. Too much is at stake for the United States to do nothing. It is crucial that the United States seizes this historical moment to strengthen its relationships with regional allies and partners by using strategic tools to outcompete China.


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[2] Shane Harris et al., “Road to war: U.S. struggled to convince allies, and Zelensky, of risk of invasion,” The Washington Post, 16 August 2022, 

[3] “Statement by President Biden on Russia’s Unprovoked and Unjustified Attack on Ukraine,” The White House, 23 February 2022,  

[4] Margaret Dene, Hannah Labow, and Carol Silber, Middle East Responses to the Ukraine Crisis, (Washington, DC: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2022), 

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[6] Isabelle Keltie, “The latest develpments in the MENA region,” Oilfield Technology, 21 December 2022,

[7] Shubham Yadav, “Why Business Leaders should be looking to the Middle East and North Africa For Growth Opportunities,” Forbes, 24 February 2023, 

[8] Bernard Reich, The Decline of the Soviet Union and the Transformation of the Middle East, (Boulder: Westview Press, 1994), 1-4.

[9] Dmirtiy Frolovskiy, “Russia’s involvement in the Middle East: Building sandcastles and ignoring the streets,” Middle East Institute, 1 June 2020,

[10] Ali Harb, “Russia-Ukraine war shows cracks in US ties to Middle East allies,” Al Jazeera, 21 March 2022, 

[11] Pieter D. Wezeman, Justine Gadon, and Siomon T. Wezeman, Trends in International Arms Transfers, 2022, FS 2023 (Stockholm, Sweden: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 2022), 6,

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[20] Zachary Cohen, “CNN Exclusive: US intel and satellite images show Saudi Arabia is now building its own ballistic missiles with help of China,” CNN, 23 December 2021, 

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[26] Siobhan O’ Grady, “What is the Russian S-400 air defense system, and why is the U.S. upset that Turkiye bought it?,” The Washington Post, 17 July 2019, 

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[28] Vasabjit Banerjee and Benjamin Tkach, “The Coming Chinese Weapons Boom,” Foreign Affairs, 11 October 2022,  

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[36] BBC News, “Ukraine Conflict: Petrol at Fresh Record as Oil and Gas Prices Soar,” BBC News, 7 March 2022,; and Peter St. Onge, “OPEC+ Cuts Raise Fears of Inflation, Dollar Erosion,” The Washington Times, 11 April 2023, 

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[51] The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Meeting of Negev Forum steering committee and working groups opens in Abu Dhabi,” The Government of Israel, 9 January 2023, 

[52] Barak Ravid, “U.S., Israel, and several Arab countries establish Negev Forum,” Axios, 29 June 2022,

[53] Barak Ravid, “Scoop: Morocco Negev Forum ministerial meetings postponed—again,” Axios, 14 June 2023, 

[54] Najla M. Shahwan, “Where is China’s role in the Middle East heading?,” Daily Sabah, 15 March 2022, 

[55] Hala Tashkandi, “Saudi imports from China up to 17.8 percent in 2020 to 28.1 billion,” Arab News, 24 January 2021,  

[56] Amin Mohseni-Cheraghlou, “MENA at the center of the West: China’s ‘opening up to the West’ strategy,” Middle East Institute, 9 March 2021, 

[57] Joseph Dana, “Future of China’s Belt and Road lies in the Middle East,” The Arab Weekly, 8 August 2022,   

[58] Matthew P. Funaiole, Brian Hart, and Lily McElwee, Dire Straits: China’s Push to Secure Its Energy Interests in the Middle East, (Washington, DC: CSIS, 2023). 

This piece originally appeared in The Hamiltonian