Thursday, February 24, 2011

not a see-saw

the only reason that the u.s. sides with saudi arabia in its rivalry with iran is because of history. iran hawks note that iran funds terrorists groups, but so does saudi arabia. both are fundamentalist regimes that oppress their people. the only difference is that the u.s. has a long business relationship with the KSA and has had 32 years of conflict with iran.

it's a shame that these two particular regimes have become the poles of influence for the region. or at least that seems to be the prevailing wisdom of political analysts. they all seem to assume that iran and saudi arabia are the two key players and their influence is a kind of zero-sum see-saw. if one's influence grows, it's assumed that the other's must be waning.

i'm not sure if i agree with that assumption. with a new regime in egypt that might not be on board with the saudi's anti-iran party line, egyptian-iranian relations would improve. but that doesn't mean that the democratic revolutions sweeping the region is bolstering the iranian government as that regime is being challenged by its own democratic movement. in fact, the governments of saudi arabia and iran are united in the sense that they are both threatened by the prospect of a trans-national democratic wave. if real democracy comes to the region it would threaten both regimes.