Iran’s influence growing as Arab Spring continues
Not since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War has the Middle East experienced such comprehensive change.
Dictators have been toppled in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen; Syria is suffering civil war; and rebellion is smouldering in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait.
But it is Iran, one of the oldest and richest civilizations in the area, that has suddenly found a new prominence to match its craving for recognition as a regional power.
“When the Arab Spring is over, Iran could emerge with a sphere of influence stretching from western Afghanistan to the Mediterranean,” said George Friedman, founder of Stratfor Global Intelligence.
He predicts “a massive shift in the balance of power in the region, with Iran moving from a fairly marginal power to potentially a dominant power.”
A revolutionary theocracy and major world oil supplier, the Islamic Republic of Iran has, since its inception, demanded recognition as a regional power, sought to lead the Muslim world and dreamed of creating an Islamic superpower.
It perpetually sees the United States, the “Great Satan,” as a deadly rival. It also adopts a stridently anti-Israel stance and is widely suspected of secretly seeking nuclear weapons’ capability so it can pursue its ambitions more assertively. But, even without nuclear weapons, Iran is seeing many of its wishes come true.
The U.S. and Israel are witnessing their influence and power deteriorate in the Middle East as the Arab Spring robs them of old allies and shatters old assumptions.
The fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt robbed Israel of a stable southern border and the certainties of a 32-year-old peace treaty, while open rebellion in Syria is bringing instability to the Jewish state’s northern border.