What is your analysis of recent events in the Middle East?
Monica DEFEND: We think that recent events in the Middle East – in particular, the night of the long knives in Saudi Arabia and the resignation (then retracted) of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri – are pieces in the same jigsaw puzzle: the attempt to redraw political boundaries and delineate new geopolitical equilibria in the region.
Other pieces reflecting the current state of the Middle East jigsaw include:
• The ballistic missile intercepted near the King Khalid international Airport in Riyadh, probably fired by the Iranian-supported militia;
• The mysterious helicopter crash near the border with Yemen in which Saudi Prince Mansur bin Muqrin was killed;
• The Kurdish defeat in Iraq by the Iraqi government forces (supported by Iranian-backed Shia militias) after the recent referendum for an independent Kurdish state;
• The Assad/Hezbollah’s victory in Syria.
As such, disconcerting events that are escalating tensions in the region should not be considered as isolated episodes, but rather as part of a greater whole aimed at rebalancing power away from Iran and towards the new Saudi leadership.