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In early August the United States sent “More than 3,000 Marines and Sailors [to the Middle East] in a deployment meant to deter Iran from seizing and harassing merchant ships near the Strait of Hormuz.” The decision likely caught many off guard, considering that just two years prior, the US had finalized its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Yet, this isn't the first instance of the United States oscillating in its engagement with the Middle East. Historically, a range of factors have consistently drawn America into the region. The US had minimal involvement in the Middle East until the compounding interests of oil, great power competition, fighting terrorism, and the resource needs of allies fully engaged it.
Mahmoudian, Arman and Schnaufer, Tad II, "GNSI Decision Brief: What Keeps the US in the Middle East?" (2023). GNSI Decision Briefs. 6.