Iran's Expanding Influence

[Al-Ahram-Egypt] Ibrahim Nawar - In its modern history Iran has never had such an influential role in the Middle East as now. The removal of Saddam Hussein and the destruction of Iraq fueled Iran's desire to spread its wings across the Gulf and Arab Middle East. The unenthusiastic foreign policies of Saudi Arabia and Egypt have encouraged Tehran's political leadership to build and develop close relations with other key players in the region, especially ruling groups in Syria, Lebanon (Hizbullah) and Palestine (Islamic Jihad and Hamas), and with political groups in the Gulf, Yemen, Sudan, North Africa and even inside Egypt and Saudi Arabia, forcing retreat and a defensive approach on its regional rivals. The rise of Hizbullah has weakened the role of Saudi Arabia in Lebanon, while the electoral victory of Hamas in Palestine left Egyptian diplomacy paralyzed, proven lately in Gaza when Hamas took control amid conspicuous anti-Egyptian sentiment. While these developments were grim for Cairo and Riyadh, Tehran looked on in celebration. As some Gulf Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, became targets for al-Qaeda attacks, the leadership of Iran felt the time had come to start an offensive campaign of mobilizing Shia minorities in the Gulf, mainly those who come historically from Persian and not Arab origin. Some Shia political figures have appeared moderate reformers, as in the Eastern province in Saudi Arabia, while some took the fundamentalist route as their way to confront Sunni political elites, as in Bahrain, Kuwait and Yemen. The writer has worked as an adviser to the UN mission to Iraq.

2007-11-23 01:00:00

Full Article


Visit the Daily Alert Archive