As Lebanon appears as to be shaping up as the next battleground in the struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran for regional hegemony, the next two weeks will be an opportune time to examine the ongoing cold war between the two powers. Last Saturday’s political drama in Riyadh and the subsequent rise of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has changed the nature of the geopolitical duel. With Iran’s arc of influence expanding at an alarming rate, MbS has convinced King Salman, his father and the Saudi king, that the time to confront Iran is now.
As Iranian influence has expanded, Saudi Arabia’s recent power moves in the region have been less than successful, mostly owing to ham-fisted execution. The blockade against Qatar is a shining example. The Saudi missteps are leaving Iran an opportunity to tip the balance of power in its favor permanently. Before that can happen, the Saudis have opted to move in a manner which runs a risk of escalation, and potentially direct conflict with Iran. Time is not a friend for Riyadh at the moment and could explain why King Salman was so willing to grant his son a mandate to deal with Iran in a new way.
I hope everyone is enjoying the weekend.