The struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia has insinuated itself into nearly every regional issue, fracturing international alliances and sustaining wars across the region, while raising fears of a direct conflict between the two powers. Meanwhile, the region is rife with ongoing conflicts, and the long-simmering dispute between Israel and Palestine continues to flare up periodically.
The political impasse in Iraq has reached an ominous phase that underscores the danger of litigating politics through displays of force. And in Lebanon, the many twists and turns in its deadlocked politics demonstrate that negotiation through violence can give way to a sustainable—if bloody—alternative to civic democracy.
After more than nine months of deadlock following parliamentary elections last year, Iraq appears to be on the verge of forming a government. The Coordination Framework, a parliamentary bloc that includes Iran-backed Shiite militias, has nominated Mohammed Shia al-Sudani as its candidate for prime minister. The nomination of al-Sudani by the Shiite bloc could thread the needle, as analyst Hamzeh Haddad writes, by producing an Iraqi government stable enough to make tough but necessary policy decisions, but not so polarizing as to spark a renewed round of civil conflict between rival Shiite camps.