Map of Middle East

Der Kalte Krieg des Nahen Ostens

PRINCETON – Der Abbruch der diplomatischen Beziehungen zwischen dem Iran und Saudi Arabien markiert einen gefährlichen Wendepunkt in einer ohnehin instabilen und vom Krieg zerrissenen Region. Auslöser war die Hinrichtung von Nimr al-Nimr, eines aufrührerischen schiitischen Scheichs durch Saudi Arabien. Er hatte das Ende der saudischen Monarchie gefordert. Doch die Wurzeln dieses Bruchs liegen in einer strategischen Rivalität, die sich über den gesamten Nahen Osten erstreckt. 

Die Spannungen zwischen den beiden Ländern bestehen seit vielen Jahrzehnten, wurden aber vor allem nach der Islamischen Revolution im Iran im Jahr 1979 akut. Revolutionsführer Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini machte aus seiner Verachtung für die saudische Königsfamilie kein Hehl. Rasch positionierte er den Iran als Schutzmacht „der Unterdrückten“ gegen die „Mächte der Arroganz“ – die Vereinigten Staaten und deren lokale Verbündete Saudi Arabien und Israel.

Obwohl diese Rivalität durchaus religiöse und ideologische Aspekte aufweist, handelt es sich dabei in erster Linie aber um einen pragmatischen Streit um regionale Interessen. Da der Iran der Meinung ist, die politische Ordnung in der arabischen Welt würde den Interessen seiner Feinde dienen, versuchte er stets, diese Ordnung zu kippen. Dazu förderte man terroristische Gruppen und nutzte Stellvertreter, um den Einfluss des Landes in der Region geltend zu machen und auszubauen.  Zu den vom Iran unterstützten nicht-staatlichen Akteuren zählen randalierende Pilger in Mekka, Selbstmordattentäter im Libanon sowie Hisbollah-Kämpfer, die Angriffe auf Israel organisieren und – in jüngerer Vergangenheit – von Saudi Arabien unterstützte Rebellengruppen in Syrien bekämpfen.

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