Sakset/Fra hofta

Det som er kalt den arabiske revolusjonen fremstår i dag som et komplisert fenomen. Det er kalt den arabiske vår. Kanskje det kan minne om Praha-våren, spør Bill Bindle og Margaret Coker i Wall Street Journal.

Sammenligningen halter, men har likevel noe for seg. Praha-våren var en erupsjon av folkelig frihetslengsel som raskt ble kvalt av Makten.

Forfatterne ser et slikt mønster i striden mellom Iran og Saudi-Arabia om hegemoniet den persiske/arabiske Golfen. Demokratiaspirasjonene til folk i Bahrain og Jemen blir underordnet en geopolitisk maktkamp. Selv USA kan ikke se bort fra denne, og må la oppdemmingen mot Iran ha forrang.

It has been a dramatic spike in tensions between two geopolitical titans, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
This new Middle East cold war comes complete with its own spy-versus-spy intrigues, disinformation campaigns, shadowy proxy forces, supercharged state rhetoric—and very high stakes. «The cold war is a reality,» says one senior Saudi official. «Iran is looking to expand its influence. This instability over the last few months means that we don’t have the luxury of sitting back and watching events unfold.»

On March 14, the Saudis rolled tanks and troops across a causeway into the island kingdom of Bahrain. The ruling family there, long a close Saudi ally, appealed for assistance in dealing with increasingly large protests.

Saudi-Arabia er pragmatikere i storpolitikken. Det betyr en viss realpolitisk anerkjennelse av Israel og leveranser av olje mot sikkerhet fra USA. Men at USA lot Mubarak falle, ga kongedømmet en følelse av usikkerhet. Det var et brudd på en stilltiende avtale om sikkerhet. Saudi-Arabia føler det må handle selv, og soldatene som rullet inn i Bahrain var et sterkt signal om at man ikke akter å bli sittende med hendene i fanget.

The intensified wrangling across the Persian—or, as the Saudis insist, the Arabian—Gulf has strained relations between the U.S. and important Arab allies, helped to push oil prices into triple digits and tempered U.S. support for some of the popular democracy movements in the Arab world. Indeed, the first casualty of the Gulf showdown has been two of the liveliest democracy movements in countries right on the fault line, Bahrain and the turbulent frontier state of Yemen.

Det gamle Midtøsten hevder seg.

Midt oppe i folkelige reisninger lever gammel rivalisering. Spenningen mellom Saudi-Arabia og Iran går helt tilbake til profetens død i 632. Skulle Iran få atomvåpen vil det få konsekvenser. Spesielt hvis Saudi-Arabia føler at det ikke kan stole på USA fullt ut.

How a string of hopeful popular protests has brought about a showdown of regional superpowers is a tale as convoluted as the alliances and history of the region. It shows how easily the old Middle East, marked by sectarian divides and ingrained rivalries, can re-emerge and stop change in its tracks.

There has long been bad blood between the Saudis and Iran. Saudi Arabia is a Sunni Muslim kingdom of ethnic Arabs, Iran a Shiite Islamic republic populated by ethnic Persians. Shiites first broke with Sunnis over the line of succession after the death of the Prophet Mohammed in the year 632; Sunnis have regarded them as a heretical sect ever since. Arabs and Persians, along with many others, have vied for the land and resources of the Middle East for almost as long. These days, geopolitics also plays a role. The two sides have assembled loosely allied camps. Iran holds in its sway Syria and the militant Arab groups Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories; in the Saudi sphere are the Sunni Muslim-led Gulf monarchies, Egypt, Morocco and the other main Palestinian faction, Fatah.

Alle regimene i Midtøsten er paranoide, slik diktaturer, autokratier og politistater nødvendigvis er.

Men den store forskjellen statene mellom er at Iran som den eneste er misjonerende: Iran driver evangelisering og undergraving av sunni-statene.

Innbilt eller reelt; når det demonstreres i det østlige Saudi-Arabia blant shiaer, går alarmen.

Iran’s clerical regime worked to spread the revolution across the Middle East; Saudi Arabia and its allies worried that it would succeed. For a time it looked like it might. There were large demonstrations and purported antigovernment plots in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, which has a large population of Shiite Muslim Arabs, and in Bahrain, where Shiites are a distinct majority and Iran had claimed sovereignty as recently as 1970.

Alle disse faktorene; historie, sekterisme (et samlebegrep for alle motsetningene mellom grupper) gjør at utgangen på omveltningene i Midtøsten er svært vanskelig å forutse.

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To read more: http://nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=262289#ixzz1JmdO0fVH
Only 25% of a given NOW Lebanon article can be republished. For information on republishing rights from NOW Lebanon: http://www.nowlebanon.com/Sub.aspx?ID=125478