The Cold War in the Middle East between Saudi Arabia and Iran is coming to a head. So far carried out with the help of proxies in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere, it’s in danger of turning into a military confrontation between the two regional powers.
A number of factors indicate that the Great Game is entering its most dangerous phase. First, the battle against the Islamic State has reached its final phase. As the territory under IS control has shrunk and as the fall of the IS appeared imminent, it has set off a fierce competition among various players, not just Saudi Arabia and Iran, to take control of strategically important vacated territories, not least in eastern Syria.
The Syrian Kurds are engaged in carving out an autonomous entity in the region and Turkey is busy trying to deter them from doing so. Some reports indicate that Iranian-supported forces, including Assad regime troops, Hizbullah and Iraqi Shia militia, are making a dash to control parts of eastern Syria that would provide Iran a corridor connecting it through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon where its ally Hizbullah is the strongest military and political player thus helping it to project power throughout the so-called “Shia Crescent”.
While this may be an exaggeration, the increasingly frequent reports of Americans bombing Iranian backed militia and Assad forces in eastern Syria indicate that Washington takes that assessment seriously. Since the Saudis have little direct military presence in Syria other than their material support to rebel groups that have increasingly proved ineffective, anti-Iranian American actions in Syria can be interpreted as protecting Saudi interests in the Middle East in addition to advancing American objectives directed at containing Iran.
Source: News Now /www.aspistrategist.org.au