Simultaneous adjustments at national, regional and global levels have been taking place across the Middle East region since the end of the Cold War. The Saudi-Yemen situation is important because it captures developments at all three levels.
The fascinating simultaneous demonstrations and challenges to democratically elected regimes in Egypt, Turkey and Brazil this month suggest that we need to look for an explanation for something structural in newly democratized societies, rather than seeking cultural explanations.
Yemen is not really about the legally authorized use of force to ensure a calm Arab future. Rather, it is mainly a testament to the marginalization of the rule of law in many Arab countries in our recent past.
The Obama administration is doing something that no other American administration has ever dared to do, which is to confront and challenge Israel in public on the core issue in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
After a strong victory by Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party and a consolidation of rightwing sentiments, Israeli-American relations is the critical arena, and the European and Palestinian leaderships are the two pivotal actors to watch.
The Middle East is likely to endure many years of dislocation and violence until local authorities re-establish order that is based on a more credible social contract among citizens who feel they belong to a state.
Netanyahu just tore up the rulebook, and nobody is quite sure what will happen next in U.S.-Israeli relations. An unsanctioned, thriving Iran that is not a nuclear threat would force a new balance of power in the Middle East.
All concerned should be braced for some bad things to happen in the arenas of security, political rhetoric, administration, finances and economy, and physical and psychological well-being of citizenries on both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict.