Over the last several months, there have been a series of extraordinary developments in the Middle East that could have almost as big an impact on the shape of the new global order as Russia’s war on Ukraine. Consider even a partial list:
- China’s engineering of rapprochement between supposedly implacable enemies Iran and Saudi Arabia;
- The Arab League celebrating the return of Syria’s president Assad, still considered a war criminal in the West;
- Saudi Arabia’s application to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization while also moving towards membership in the BRICs;
- Countries from Morocco and Algeria to Saudi Arabia and Turkey moving away from political Islam;
- A growing web of diplomatic, economic, and financial ties among China, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, Iran, and Russia, that have intensified even as the West tries to enforce draconian sanctions against several of those countries.
The only thing that is clear is that a new Middle Eastern political order is under construction, one in which the United States and Europe are likely to have considerably less influence than they enjoyed over the past century.
Gilles Kepel, one of France’s leading experts on the Middle East and a regular columnist for Al-Monitor, recently shared his thinking about these profound changes with New Thinking for a New World.
ABOUT THE GUEST
Gilles Kepel authored more than 20 books on the Middle East, North Africa, Islam in France and Europe, translated in many languages (lastly, Away from Chaos / The Middle East and the Challenge to the West, Columbia Univ. Press). He has taught at Sciences Po in Paris, the LSE in London, Lugano in Switzerland, among others, and advised senior European and Arab political and business leaders.