Arab Unrest Propels Iran as Saudi Influence Declines

(New York Times) Michael Slackman - The popular revolts shaking the Arab world have begun to shift the balance of power in the region, bolstering Iran's position while weakening its rival, Saudi Arabia. The uprisings are driven by domestic concerns. But they have already shredded a regional paradigm in which Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, aligned with the West, supported engaging Israel and containing Israel's enemies, including Hamas and Hizbullah. Mubarak of Egypt has been forced to resign, King Abdullah of Jordan is struggling to control discontent in his kingdom and Saudi Arabia faces a rising challenge to its regional role. "I think the Saudis are worried that they're encircled - Iraq, Syria, Lebanon; Yemen is unstable; Bahrain is very uncertain," said Alireza Nader, an expert with the RAND Corporation. "They worry that the region is ripe for Iranian exploitation. Iran has shown that it is very capable of taking advantage of regional instability." "Iran is the big winner here," said a regional adviser to the U.S. government.

2011-02-24 00:00:00

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