Clash of Mideast Titans: Certain geopolitical shift in uncertain times

Catherine Shakdam
Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on radical movements and Yemen. A regular pundit on RT and other networks her work has appeared in major publications: MintPress, the Foreign Policy Journal, Mehr News and many others.Director of Programs at the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, Catherine is also the co-founder of Veritas Consulting. She is the author of Arabia’s Rising - Under The Banner Of The First Imam
People gather at the site of a Saudi-led air strike in Yemen's capital Sanaa © Khaled Abdullah
In between Russia's military intervention in Syria and Iran's challenging of Saudi Arabia's hegemonic power in the Middle East, the region is witnessing unprecedented political frictions.

Those growing pains will ultimately see manifest a new order - which one remains to be determined.

If the Middle East has long been a festering ground for political unrest, ethnic friction and sectarian tension, arguably the direct product of failed Western policies, both Russia and Iran's insistence on challenging the powers has set in motion a new dynamic, one which could yet see a rise of a new geo-political order - where American exceptionalism and Saudi hegemony will no longer hold any diktats over world nations.

Just as political analysts and state officials debate foreign policy and strategy in Syria, arguing back and forth which nations should carry the burden of leadership in this global fight against terror, Russia has broken the code of silence, openly challenging America's political monopoly.

Make no mistake: Washington's new campaign against Moscow's intervention in Syria goes beyond President Putin's alliance with Syrian President Bashar Assad against ISIL, or even the choices of his military targets in the region. Control and political hegemony are at the heart of the matter.

© Smoke rises from the al-Dailami airbase after it was hit by Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen's capital Sanaa © Khaled Abdullah

But forget Syria and forget Russia's military intervention against terror for a second, and let me take you beyond the immediate hustle bustle of politics for a greater perspective. A word of warning though - I'm not claiming to hold any absolute truth on world affairs here, I'm merely proposing that we look at different possibilities, from alternative vantage points. By the way, much of the world problems began when we, the people, were told that only one model is worth having … the infamous American dream!

For the first time since the United States rose as the world superpower, an erect giant over the ashes of the British Empire, America has known no real challenge to its political weight - safe maybe from the USSR, back in those Cold War days. But even then, Soviet Russia's traction was limited to the reach of its political ideology, while American capitalism was already vying for global control over all resources.

Russia today is very different from the Russia of the 1980s … Russia today has become a leader of nations, a rallying symbol for non-aligned nations, and more importantly proof that America's way is not the only way. This is not Russian propaganda, by the way! The above statement is merely a reflection of the political reality we find ourselves in. Russia has become the only real alternative to American hegemony in terms of its political weight within the international community - and not just in the Middle East - everywhere. And while many might not agree with President Putin's political style, many have nevertheless conceded that Russia's foreign policy and goals are by and large less pervasive than that led by the United States. Russia is not looking to become an empire as US officials have proposed - rather a grand world player within a tight network of mutually benefiting relations and collaborations.

Neo-cons have at it, I'm pretty sure that by now you want to explode on the page and let me know how diluted I am not to believe that America was chosen by God to be a leader of men and nations.

Back to the Middle East shall we! Here are some of the developments you might have missed as corporate media rained misinformation onto both hemispheres:

Over the past few weeks Saudi Arabia, the uber Wahhabi theocratic kingdom saw its clergy issue a series of fatwas (Islamic ruling) labeling all Russian troops in Syria infidels; thus calling for their immediate and "just" death. As far as Al Saud leadership is concerned all those opposed to its "divine rule" are enemies of God himself … America watch out, you never know what fatwas those Wahhabis will cook up next.

Why is that significant you may ask? Well for one, Saudi Arabia went from covertly supporting terror in the Middle East to overtly calling for the protection of its precious terror militants in the region. Now that Russia threatens its operations in Syria, Riyadh had to get the big guns out and play the religious card.

People search for survivors under the rubble of a house destroyed by an air strike at the old quarter of Yemen's capital Sanaa © Mohamed al-Sayaghi

Now, THAT puts Washington in a tough spot. For all their billions of dollars and barrels of crude, Al Saud is fast becoming a liability the US would gladly do without - especially since playing terror to score political points did not exactly pan out. What could the White House do, I ask? President Barack Obama can't exactly publicly slam his most trusted and richest ally in the region, can he? At least, not without some serious financial and political repercussions.

If only there was a country which could and would want to take on Saudi Arabia?

Hold on! There is … Iran, of course.

What if Washington was to covertly back Iran as Tehran goes after Riyadh in a grand regional match of hegemony? That would be a proxy sent from heaven - especially since Iran's policies are by definition anti-Saudi, or rather anti-Wahhabi. Iran does not have a problem per se with Saudi Arabia, it is its leadership and religious radical devolution Tehran abhors most of all.

The idea of an Iranian-American rapprochement might have sounded farfetched only a year ago but not today.

Today, Washington finds itself at a difficult crossroad.

America can either stand by its alliances in the Middle East and watch as Al Saud's billions swallow up Western influences or align itself with those powers which seek to introduce a new balance into the region.

Time is running out on Washington now that Moscow entered the military fray.

The gist is up neo-cons! Empires are going down and a new global narrative is being introduced, courtesy of President Putin - no more rigid model to abide to, welcome to pluralism.


The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.