Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen this week highlights the fact that the kingdom is increasingly surrounded by sectarian turmoil — turmoil that may spread to its domestic political scene. To the south, Somalia and now Yemen both look to be failed, unstable states that invite external meddling. To the north, Iraq and Syria are battling the efforts of ISIS extremists to establish a caliphate, a challenge that has bolstered Iranian influence in Baghdad. And to the east lies Iran itself, an energy-rich Shiite theocracy with over three times the population of Saudi Arabia. The Riyadh government finds itself potentially embroiled in a series of proxy wars with Teheran, and that challenge will probably grow if and when economic sanctions against Iran are lifted. As if all that were not enough, the Saudis have good reason to wonder whether they can count on America’s military support over the long run as U.S. energy independence advances and Washington seeks to limit exposure to Middle East turmoil. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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