One way to look at what has been happening in the Middle East and North Africa is captured in the phrase “Arab Spring.” Another way to look at it is captured in the phrase “New Cold War.” The Wall Street Journal reports:
For all the attention the Mideast protests have received, their most notable impact on the region thus far hasn’t been an upswell of democracy. 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.”
The WSJ report details the early manoeuvring in what is likely to be a long battle.