The uprisings are driven by domestic concerns. But they have already shredded a regional paradigm in which a trio of states aligned with the West supported engaging Israel and containing Israel’s enemies, including Hamas and Hezbollah, experts said. The pro-engagement camp of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia is now in tatters. Hosni Mubarak of Egypt has been forced to resign, King Abdullah of Jordan is struggling to control discontent in his kingdom and Saudi Arabia has been left alone to face 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 in international affairs 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 United States government who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
Iran’s circumstances could change, experts cautioned, if it overplayed its hand or if popular Arab movements came to resent Iranian interference in the region. And it is by no means assured that pro-Iranian groups would dominate politics in Egypt, Tunisia or elsewhere.
For now, Iran and Syria are emboldened. Qatar and Oman are tilting toward Iran, and Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain and Yemen are in play.
“If these ‘pro-American’ Arab political orders currently being challenged by significant protest movements become at all more representative of their populations, they will for sure become less enthusiastic about strategic cooperation with the United States,” Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, former National Security Council staff members, wrote in an e-mail.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Saudi Arabia: Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On
From the New York Times:
Posted by DCH at Wednesday, February 23, 2011