There is some merit to the petrodollar warfare theory. Wikipedia does a nice rundown, but it fits into the Mob Empire theory of US foreign and economic policy. If you stay in the protection racket system, you have to use dollars. Stop using dollars, and the Godfather will pay you a visit. Russia and China play this game as well but on a smaller scale. If you are not aligned with Uncle Sam, you might get nervous about your regime's defenses from external threats. If you see Arab Spring moments, you might get nervous about your regimes ability to maintain control. Luckily, Uncle Sam has an answer for nations even if they do not want to host bases: arms deals.
The American MI complex makes money. The Russian MI complex makes money. Iraq is poised to be a major buyer by 2020. Iraq had little reason to buy before their army was destroyed by the US. Al-Jazeera reported that Syria increased arms imports 600% between 2007 and 2011, and Iran imported $500 the last three years in the run up to 2012. What did Syria have to fear prior to the Iraqi invasion? Iran had few worries as they were relatively quiet prior to being placed in the Axis of Evil. If the original casus belli for Al-Qaeda was the presence of US forces in the Arab peninsula, what do they think now? Israel continues to receive immense US aid and US forces swarm the Middle East. Israel itself continues to be a major purchaser of US arms products. Israel's military advantage was and is real, and made stronger by the subsequent destruction of Iraqi forces. Another theory for why no Arab nations had attacked Israel after the 1970s was that another failed war would give internal groups (jihadis) a cause for overthrowing regimes. These regimes can witness field testing of the very systems they can purchase with these dust ups. It may be theater of the media to broadcast, but it is also advertising for the likes of Lockheed.
The global war on terror having such focus on Muslim organization heightens drama in the entire region. Tension has a way of working on the minds of autocrats sitting on underground wealth that they have little expertise in procuring. It is better to be prepared. It signals allegiance and synchronization of systems if there ever came a day for coalition building. Arms exports is a specialty of the US and Russia, and the US presses these deals over long periods of time. They can be whoppers. If you pay attention to who sells what to whom, and who buys what heavy aircraft versus smaller systems and helicopters, the odd tangle of alliances and coalitions forming around the Syria civil war make much more sense. Toss aside a decades long ally like Mubarak, and a deal with Saudis might finalize on better terms. Incite rebellion in Libya, and it might show up at your door next. This is just a byproduct of military action in the Middle East because as the petrodollar theory explains it in its very name, it is still about oil and dollars.