The Middle East and North Africa is the world's crossroads. It encompasses the Arabian Peninsula, the mountains of Iran, the plains of Turkey, the deserts of the Levant, the lands north of the Sahara and all coasts in between. The story of the region, as is so often the case of places stuck between foreign players, is the story of trade, exchange and conflict. The traditional powers of the region are Turkey and Iran — Saudi Arabia and Egypt are the current Arab powers — and their competition for influence over the region's weaker states makes the Middle East and North Africa an arena of violence and instability.
Sep 28, 2017 | 13:56 GMT
The Middle East and North Africa encompasses the Arabian Peninsula, the mountains of Iran, the plains of Turkey, the deserts of the Levant, the lands north of the Sahara and all coasts in between.
(Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Whether or not the White House certifies Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal this quarter, the United States will not abandon the agreement entirely, even as it puts more financial and military pressure on Iran in an effort to contain its influence in the Middle East.
Though Iran will respond to rising tension with the United States by easing its relationships with Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Tehran's competition with its regional rivals will continue to play out in proxy battles throughout the Middle East.
An independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan will lend new momentum -- and tension -- to negotiations between Arbil and Baghdad over oil revenue-sharing and disputed territories as Iraqi politicians prepare for crucial elections in 2018.
As the Islamic State continues to lose ground in Syria, the U.S.- and Russian-backed forces combating it will risk coming into contact with each other, increasing the danger of clashes between them that could draw their foreign sponsors further into the fray.