The 32-year old Prince Muhammad bin Salman, who is the heir to Saudi Arabia’s throne, wants at first "to eradicate the roots of Islamic extremism" as soon as possible. This means that from now on the confrontation between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia will be downplayed from infra-Islamic clash of civilization to a normal and natural standard of regional warfare.
Four US soldiers died in Niger on October 4, and the president's insensitive phone call to the widow of one has brought the subject of the military in every corner of the world back in the news.
In the shadowy world of covert proxy wars, Iran is taking centre stage, both as a target and a player. A series of incidents involving Iranian ethnic and religious minorities raise the spectre of the United States and Saudi Arabia seeking to destabilize the Islamic republic.
It has been a week of repeated insults to U.S. adventurism and Donald Trump's ill-defined Middle East policy. In Iraq, thanks to Iranian backing and astute negotiation, Kirkuk province is back in the hands of the Shia government in Baghdad halving the Kurds' oil revenues. Iran now has a land bridge through Syria to the Mediterranean improving the accessibility of its exports to Europe.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has reminded newly arrived foreign ambassadors about the growing challenges and threats confronting the global community and urged them to play pivotal role in ensuring global peace and stability.
Remarks at United Hebrew Congregation, Singapore, 3 October 2017
There are no nice guys in the Middle East, a region that is in the sixth year of transition. It’s a transition that is likely to take up to a quarter of a century. It’s a transition that is being exacerbated by states that are battling either one another for regional hegemony or to maintain an unsustainable status quo or to shape the region in their mould. There are no good or bad guys in this battle, at best there are bad and worse ones.
A novel Alawite-Shi’a security network may be developing in the Assad statelet now defining western Syria. It consists of an archipelago layered with remnants of the Bashar al-Assad-era intelligence organizations along with Iraqi Shi’a and other pro-Assad militias.
Considering the quantity and virulence of the groups taking part in the Syrian war, which has been going on uninterruptedly for six years, in principle there are two possible scenarios. An unstable peace that will disrupt the Syrian political and territorial system - as is currently happening in the Lebanon - or a long war of attrition, as in the Balkans of the 1990s or currently in Ukraine or the Horn of Africa.