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Rebalancing Power in the Middle East

Though the Middle East has never been a picture of stability, the region has had at least a semblance of order for the past hundred or so years, held together as it was by authoritarian regimes that for all their failings managed to keep the region from devolving into outright chaos. That is no longer the case. The fall of Saddam Hussein gave Iran, the Middle East’s premier Shiite power, an opportunity to extend its influence from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. Its rise has galvanized the region’s Sunnis, led by Turkey and Saudi Arabia, against Iran in a series of proxy wars throughout the region. The disarray has given extremist groups the space to operate and has all but invited outside powers like Russia and the United States to intervene and exploit as they see fit. And though these powers may intend to avoid the quagmire that is the Middle East, competing agendas and transnational threats will challenge those intentions.

Though the Middle East has never been a picture of stability, the region has had at least a semblance of order for the past hundred or so years, held together as it was by authoritarian regimes that for all their failings managed to keep the region from devolving into outright chaos.
(Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)
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