The Middle East – a large cake stretching from Turkey to Afghanistan, and from Egypt to Oman – was torn away from the once great and Ottoman Empire in the wake of the First World War and then carved up arbitrarily by the victorious French and the British, who were subsequently busy creating “nations” by drawing – at times – straight-line borders and setting up a Jewish state, absent from the region for roughly two millenniums. After the Second World War the Middle East was a playground for proxy wars fought initially by the United States and the Soviet Union, and then, after 1991, between the United States and Russia with China making first modest inroads. Over that period the population of the particular states shot up three- four- and even tenfold, the hostilities displaced hundreds of thousands, at first mainly Palestinians, recently Syrians, part of whom have made their way to Europe.
The tensions between the United States and the majority of the Arab world overlap with those between Saudi Arabia (an American ally) and (anti-American) Iran, both striving for gaining a dominant position in the region. Russian inactivity for almost two decades has been replaced with Moscow’s successful intervention in Syria, bringing about a more favourable attitude of the Islamic countries towards Russia, with even Turkey – a NATO member – considering the purchase of Russian military equipment. Israel, an entrenched country, has been waging mainly a successful protracted war against its closer and farther neighbours, while multiplying its settlements in the West Bank and enjoying the unwavering friendship and of Washington with whom it is likely to provoke a military conflict between Riyadh and Tehran.