Throughout the wider Middle East, numerous countries are being wracked by unrest and civil conflict. And, in a majority of the conflicts, the ongoing crises can be seen as an expansion of a proxy war between two of the region’s main powers.
On the one hand, Shiite Iran has been expanding its influence in Iraq and Yemen while trying to keep its influence in Syria intact through the support of the Syrian government. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia has responded in kind by backing Sunni forces throughout the region.
The following map by Emmanuel Pene, from The Maghreb and Orient Courier, beautifully highlights the battle lines in the Middle East between the two powers, where they are currently clashing, and their respective zones of influence.
The map was first published in November. And although the facts on the ground have not changed substantially since that time, tensions have continued to rise exponentially.
On January 2, Saudi Arabia executed 47 alleged terrorists, including a prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. The execution immediately drew outrage from the Shiite world and culminated in an Iranian mob torching the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran and clashes between the Shiite majority in Bahrain and the police in the Sunni-run country on January 3.
In response to these events, Saudi Arabia has severed diplomatic ties with Iran. So far, Sudan, Bahrain, and Somalia have also cut diplomatic ties with Iran in an expansion of tensions throughout the region.
The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have both also downgraded diplomatic relations with Iran following Saudi Arabia’s lead.
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