The Mideast battle lines are drawn

Iran’s push for regional hegemony and the Saudi-led mobilization to resist Tehran raise the prospect of a long-lasting Sunni-Shi’a conflict.

April 27, 2015 14:04
Houthi Shi’ite rebels

Houthi Shi’ite rebels hold a mass protest in the Yemeni capital Sana’a, March 26.. (photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)

IN THE last decade, the Middle East has been living through a political convulsion of historic proportions. Regimes that once appeared immovable have been destroyed or receded. New forces have risen and are making war over the ruins.

The result of the effective eclipse in recent years of the states of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon has been the emergence of a large and chaotic conflict in the contiguous area once covered by those states. The failure to develop coherent state-loyal national identities in the areas in question has meant that once central authority disappears, a political- military competition based on forces assembled according to ethnic and sectarian identity emerges. A sectarian conflict is, as a result, now raging between the Iraq- Iran border and the Mediterranean. This dynamic of conflict has now extended to Yemen.


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