By Rami G. Khouri
The Daily Star
"The Middle East continues to experience one of its most tumultuous moments of structural change in several generations, and countries are reconfiguring both their domestic power structures as well as their intra-regional relations.
In this context, we can expect much of the diplomatic maneuvering in the region to revolve around the axes of two major ideological confrontations. The first is the Arab-Israeli conflict, the second the invigorated Saudi-Iranian confrontation. It remains unclear if the national interests of Saudi Arabia and Iran are genuinely threatened by the other side, or whether we are simply in a situation where mediocre leaderships are using the exaggerated threat of the other, coupled with their own sense of vulnerability, to turn a local feud into a major cause of region-wide tension and proxy warfare.
I tend to believe the latter case is true....
This rivalry and open confrontation seems to be driven more from the Saudi side than the Iranian side for now, because the Saudis feel more vulnerable that their world, as they know it, is threatened with change. Their ferocious response, which contrasts with the traditional low-key Saudi style of diplomacy, is a sign that the kingdom feels in danger and will take the initiative to protect itself.
A new regional cold war is taking shape, adding to the threats the region is already facing from the repercussions of the Arab-Israeli conflict."