US Disengagement in the Middle East Is 'a Concern to all of Us,' Dutch Minister Says

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US Disengagement in the Middle East Is 'a Concern to all of Us,' Dutch Minister Says

America's strategic move away from the Middle East may be concerning, but the region needs new leadership from within to deal with issues such as security and the refugee crisis, a prominent politician at the Dutch finance ministry told CNBC Saturday.

"I think the disengagement of the U.S. as a very important critical historical player in this region, I think is of a concern to all of us," Sigrid Kaag, the Netherlands' minister for foreign trade and development cooperation, told CNBC's Hadley Gamble in Jordan at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

"And it's important that we remain in dialogue," she added.

A disengagement from places like the Middle East was one of the key pledges that President Donald Trump had on the campaign trail. And his order to withdraw 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria last December was seen as the president pushing through with that policy in the White House, even if it blindsided and concerned some allies in the region.

Speaking on a CNBC-moderated panel about global geopolitical shifts affecting the region's security landscape, Kaag said that Europe wouldn't be able to fill any void left by the U.S. if the Middle East required major economic assistance. She said that the EU could invest in those countries and said it was already engaged in regional conflict and resolutions. But she admitted that it could do more.

"Are we as superpower? Not in that sense. Are we an economic power? Yes. And in today's world, the 21st century, if we're talking the fourth industrial revolution I think there is a lot more that could be offered by Europe, But we do this in partnership with the region. I think that's extremely important," she said.

She further underlined that any leadership needed in the region should come from within. "We are not in a new colonial era, thank god. This is not the case, this is for the people of the region to determine," she said.

Source: CNBC