NY Times, Qasioun, THE last several months have brought a dramatic escalation in conflict across the Middle East, almost all of it involving tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims — which are in turn fueled by a power struggle between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia for regional supremacy.
Even more aggressive is Saudi Arabia. The kingdom has sent planeloads of weapons and millions of dollars to Sunni militants in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, many of them Salafi extremists. In contrast to Tehran, Riyadh has no compunction about deploying its army openly, as in 2011, when Saudi tanks rolled into Bahrain to quell the pro-democracy rallies of the country’s Shiite majority, or during the current Saudi-led aerial campaign against Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
More important, the international community must prevent any further escalation of the struggle between their main protectors, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Solving these problems will not be easy. Religious protectorates have proven remarkably persistent; yet they have also proven too dangerous to ignore.