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.
Mar 9, 2018 | 16:45 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)
In spite of U.S. sanctions against it, Iran will lean on Europe to keep its nuclear deal with the global powers intact, exercising restraint on such thorny issues as ballistic missile tests to keep the West divided over how best to contain it.
Turkey's ambitions could stir up trouble, potentially bringing it into conflict with Iran's forces and local allies in Syria and with Europe in the energy-rich eastern Mediterranean.
Saudi Arabia and its powerful Sunni neighbors will try -- albeit unsuccessfully -- to check Iran's regional influence by shaping the outcome of Lebanese and Iraqi elections in their favor.
Political contests in Egypt and Tunisia will showcase the inability of North African countries to provide the security and economic guarantees their citizens demand.