The thesis was just about gaining ground that the bitter legacy of
the Arab spring is going to be the reawakening of the rough beast of
sectarianism in the Muslim Middle East. Sectarian strife, it was
prophesied, would lead to a Sunni-Shi’ite confrontation involving Saudi
Arabia and Iran.
That specter helped deflect attention momentarily from the
existential threat posed by the Arab spring to the authoritarian regimes
of the Middle East. It also helped the United States to distract the
Arab street while Western intervention is under way in another oil-rich
Muslim country, and to reinvent the containment
strategy toward Iran. Most important, it gave the Barack Obama
administration in Washington a fig-leaf with which to cover up the
comprehensive failure of the Middle East peace process.
Arab spring is for real
However, Riyadh and Washington didn’t factor in that in the shadows
of the Egyptian pyramids the Sphinx was bestirring, expounding visions
of the shaking up of the established order in the Middle East. The
interim agreement between the Palestinian groups brokered by the new Egypt in tacit collaboration with Iran and Syria threatens to become the leitmotif of the Arab spring.
Saudi Arabia in principle ought to be celebrating that its
Palestinian brothers are forging unity at a historic moment, but are
instead stunned into silen…