Constant Mideast Churn

As we enter 2016, what many predicted for the Mideast has finally happened: Two 800-pound gorillas, Iran and Saudi Arabia, are squaring off. For those who follow national security and Mideast geo-politics, this was all but inevitable. But not many understand what is at the root of the enmity between these two Gulf powers.

On Sunday, January 3, Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran and gave Iranian diplomats 48 hours to leave the kingdom, marking a swift escalation in a strategic and sectarian rivalry that underpins conflicts across the Middle East.

The surprise move, announced in a news conference by Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, followed harsh criticism by Iranian leaders of the Saudis’ execution of an outspoken Shiite cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and the storming of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran by protesters in response. More on The New York Times reporting on this crisis here:

It is impossible to understand the root cause of these two nations’ anger toward each other without understanding just a bit about the Sunni and Shite religious schism – which dates back to the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632. In this short article in The New York Times, John Harney explains how these two branches of Islam collide:

And for a well-nuanced view of this emerging crisis from U.S. Naval Institute, the premier professional journal of the United States’ Sea Services, read more here:

Out of the AshesNot to put too fine a point on it, but when Dick Couch and I rebooted the best-selling Tom Clancy Op-Center series, our geographical for the first book was the Mideast. We wrote the first book Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes in 2012 and had Iran and Saudi Arabia in our sights. Now life imitates art. Read more about that book, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes here: