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With the intervention in Yemen, Saudi Arabia’s military is trying to kill several birds with one stone: safeguard the country from an immediate military threat, assert its leadership of the Arab world, and redress what it sees as a geopolitical imbalance in the Middle East between itself and Iran.
Leadership matters, especially in the Middle East, where institutions are weak and often nonexistent. But charisma and talent, on their own, won’t be enough to dig Saudi Arabia out of the profound generational problems that go beyond Abdullah, his successor Salman, or any leader who will preside over the Kingdom.
If the three-decade history of confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah is any guide, the latter will likely retaliate for this week's raid. But that is not inevitable. The Syrian conflict has transformed Hezbollah, arguably turning it into a more cautious foe of the Jewish state.
Following a plunge in the price of oil, Saudi Arabia was expected to cut back its production and help stabilize the market. But in a break with tradition, Riyadh has refused to play ball. That decision will have far-reaching consequences, some of which carry big risks for the Kingdom.
Oman tends to feature far less in international discussions about the Middle East than other countries in the region. But that is mostly a reflection of its deliberate preference for avoiding the spotlight. In reality, Oman is a rare regional example of domestic tranquility, cosmopolitanism, religious tolerance, and skillful diplomacy.
The United Arab Emirates has recently said and done all the right things to prove that it wants a stronger partnership with NATO. It is clear what NATO might want from the deal: help combating terrorism, funding military operations, and protecting regional sea-lanes, energy supply routes, and cybernetworks. It is less clear, however, what the UAE hopes to gain.
Qatar’s diplomatic intervention in Gaza has exposed the risks inherent in its broader grand strategy. Although Qatar’s foreign policy has not changed, it is no longer going to be able to pose as a neutral arbiter.
No modern Arab country has succeeded in building and sustaining an indigenous national defense industry. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are about to change that.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain have withdrawn their ambassadors from Qatar, claiming that Doha was violating a clause in the Gulf Cooperation Council charter not to interfere in the domestic affairs of fellow members. The decision, unprecedented in the council's history, hints at significant changes to come for the GCC and the balance of power in the Gulf.
As the United States redefines its role in the Middle East, regional powers will feel pressure to exercise restraint and cooperate with each other. And that is exactly what the UAE is doing by potentially striking a deal with Iran over the disputed islands of Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunbs.
With the ongoing carnage in Syria and gruesome bombings in Iraq, another explosion in the Middle East might hardly seem like news. But the importance of the blast that hit the Iranian embassy in Beirut should not be diminished. It could spell the beginning of the end for Hezbollah.
A UN peacekeeping mission has kept the peace along the Israeli-Syrian border for 40 years. But the strain of war is crushing the force -- making it even likelier that the Syrian conflict will engulf the wider Middle East.
Last week, Lebanon's prime minister resigned under intimidation from Hezbollah. The party is trying to fortify its position in Lebanon, since it can no longer count on its Syrian ally, Bashar al-Assad. But Hezbollah ought to know by now that it will not be able to rule Lebanon alone or with an iron fist.
After almost two years of bloodletting in Syria, there is little chance that negotiations of the kind UN peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has been urging would end the conflict. More likely, they would prolong it. And worse, they would perpetuate Bashar al-Assad’s favorite strategy of fanning fears of rebel sectarianism and extremism to dissuade the world from intervening against him.
The investigation into former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri's assassination has highlighted the detrimental role that Hezbollah plays in Lebanese politics, and placed Lebanon at the center of a regional power struggle that the United States cannot afford to ignore.