From the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 through the Iraq and Libyan wars, the US functioned as the sole superpower in the Middle East. Now, with the reemergence of Russia and the increasing emergence of China as great-power challengers to the US, the Syrian crisis that began in 2011 may mark a turning point in contemporary diplomatic history. While Russia and China stood aside as the US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, and intervened in Libya, they have vetoed Western intervention in Syria, making a stand behind the Baath regime and against further expansion of NATO influence in the Middle East. This new assertiveness presents novel challenges for the Obama administration's foreign policy in the region.
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