Who's Winning the Middle East's Cold War?

(Project Syndicate) Robert Harvey - There are few problems in the wider Middle East that cannot be traced back to the power rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. For the moment, the Iranians seem to be riding high. Following Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's decision to agree to an international deal limiting Iran's nuclear capability, Western sanctions have been all but removed. Meanwhile, Iran's creeping de facto annexation of parts of Iraq - astonishingly, with American acceptance - continues. Iran also has an overwhelming manpower advantage, with a population of 77 million, compared to Saudi Arabia's 28 million. The Saudis believe that their great traditional ally, the U.S., betrayed them by concluding the nuclear deal with Iran. Meanwhile, they fear that the chaos in neighboring Iraq has exposed them to chronic strategic risks. Yet the long-term outcome of this cold war is not hard to predict. The Shia might be able to maintain influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon (through Hizbullah), but some 90% of Arabs are Sunni Muslims, and thus potential Saudi allies. The writer is a former member of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.

2016-06-22 00:00:00

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