Few things are as explosive as the combination of power, ambition and anxiety — and there is plenty of all three in Riyadh these days.
Once a cautious and passive regional power, Saudi Arabia has found a new purpose in recent years. The ruthless ambition of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in full display at home with his crackdown on businessmen and members of the royal family, also radiates across the Middle East, driven by the urgency to check Iranian influence. Prince Mohammed has a point. Iran is set on becoming the dominant power from Iraq to Lebanon.
Saudi Arabia may exaggerate Iranian intentions and power, but Western and Asian countries typically understate them.… Seguir leyendo »
Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, three of the Middle East’s major Sunni powers, once equated their standings in the region with the outcome of the war in Syria. Since the uprising broke out in 2011, they have been stalwart — if often divided — supporters of the rebels in their fight against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
In the last several months, it became clear they were on the losing side. Recent events, including the fall of eastern Aleppo this month, are compelling these countries to adjust their strategies. A cease-fire agreement brokered by Russia and Turkey and announced on Thursday has only made it clearer that in the Middle East, force drives diplomacy.… Seguir leyendo »
One might think that America’s policy toward Syria couldn’t get any worse, but the rise of extremists there is generating dangerous thinking in Western capitals. High-level advisers and former officials have recently started to talk about Bashar al-Assad as a lesser evil than whatever comes next; some even see him as a potential partner in fighting jihadi terrorists.
Rebuilding bridges with Mr. Assad, the reasoning goes, would allow Western intelligence agencies to penetrate and disrupt the activities of extremist groups and help identify the many hundreds of Western jihadis who are flocking there.
Such simplistic analysis whitewashes the Assad regime’s record.… Seguir leyendo »