Tensions remain high around the Middle East. Civil wars, rebellions and the horrors of the Islamic State have upended the old balance of power. Syria, Libya and Iraq seem on the brink of collapse. In Yemen the traditional rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia over regional dominance has broken into the open. Western powers for their part are trying to avoid getting dragged into the fray.
The US, EU, Russia and China want to protect their interests in the Middle East. But they are trying hard to avoid direct intervention. Instead of major ground operations like in Afghanistan and Iraq, they are limiting themselves to providing supplies and training to local forces. The US for instance has given its backing to Saudi Arabia in the fight in Yemen against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. But in Iraq the US and Iran are cooperating in the battle against the Islamic State.
Long-established alliances and enmities are being questioned. While ties between the US and Iran have improved during the nuclear talks, that development has been taken as a slap in the face by long-time US allies Israel and Saudi Arabia.
National borders are dissolving amid civil wars and the Islamic State’s expanding sphere of influence. In their stead, new quasi-states are taking shape under the leadership of IS. Yemen is the most recent example of a state where the old authoritarian elites have lost power, and the country threatens to split apart.
Regional powers Iran and Saudi Arabia are trying to profit from this uncertain situation and consolidate their power. Is the entire Middle East on the road to collapse, or is there still hope for stabilization?
Mideast Turmoil: The Struggle for Dominance
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Amir Musawy – is the Berlin Bureau Chief of the Iraqi TV channel Al-Iraquia TV. He studied media and political science in Bonn, Germany, and has reported for Associated Press in London. He has worked for the Iraqi foreign ministry and several NGOs in his capacity as a political scientist and media consultant. Musawy is theco-author of the documentary film “Bureaucracy of Terror — An Inside Look at the Islamic State”.
Adnan Tabatabai– is a Berlin-based political analyst on Iranian affairs. He writes analyses and commentaries on Iran for German and English media outlets and works as a consultant for the German Foreign Ministry. Tabatabai holds a lectureship at the Heinrich Heine University of Duesseldorf and is an associated researcher for a project titled “Peaceful Change and Violent Conflict—the Transformation of the Middle East and Western-Muslim relations.” He is also the co-founder and CEO of the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO).
Alan Posener– was born in London and grew up in Kuala Lumpur and West - Berlin. A teacher by training, he quit school to become a freelance author and journalist. He worked as an editor and author for the German newspaper “Die Welt” and was chief of commentary for "Welt am Sonntag". At the present, he contributes to a variety of media, among them the debate magazine The European. Posener is the author of several critically acclaimed books, among them biographies of the American idols John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Elvis Presley.