First Advisor

David Kinsella

Term of Graduation

Summer 2021

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Political Science


Political Science




United States -- Foreign relations -- Middle East -- 2017-2021, Middle East -- Foreign relations -- United States -- 2017-2021, Donald Trump (1946- ), Geopolitics



Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 34 pages)


The last six months of the Trump administration witnessed interesting developments regarding its legacy in the Middle East. The normalization of ties between four Arab states and Israel constituted major breakthroughs not only in the regional inter-state relations but also for the American foreign policy in the region.

In this context, this thesis offers insights into how to understand and evaluate the administration's approach towards these developments. Based on systematic and empirical research, I analyze a corpus comprised of Trump-era foreign policy documents regarding the Iranian and Israeli-Palestinian questions. I find, firstly, that the Trump administration pursued a strategic shift in the American foreign policy in the Middle East. This shift marked the confrontational "Maximum Pressure" campaign towards Iran and the top-down approach towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict embodied in the "Peace to Prosperity" plan. Secondly, I find that the Trump administration engineered a geopolitical transformation by pushing the Arab regimes towards a multi-faceted security alignment with Israel. As a theoretical framework, I apply Ryan's 'regime security' theory to Trump's approaches towards Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Finally, I conclude that the Trump administration set the stage for a more favorable containment of Iran as the US continues to disengage from the region. It may have even facilitated a return to a strategy of 'Offshore Balancing' in the Middle East in the long run.


© 2021 Bilel Kriaa

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