The Dome of the Rock mosque at the al-Aqsa mosque Ahmad Gharabli/Getty Images

The New Fulcrum of the Middle East

The postwar international order is undergoing a substantial realignment, and so, too, is the Middle East. Whereas the Israel-Palestinian conflict once determined most other geopolitical developments in the region, it is now largely crowded out by other disputes, not least the hegemonic struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

BERLIN – We live in a time of geopolitical transition. China’s effort to replace the United States as the world’s leading power, or at least to become a co-partner in global leadership, deservedly receives much attention. But the macro-level dynamics that have long defined the Middle East are also shifting, and here, too, US influence is likely to diminish.

Just over a century ago, the Sykes-Picot Agreement divided the Middle East between France and Great Britain, and established national borders that remain in place to this day. But now the regional order is changing.

Since Israel’s founding, the Arab-Israeli conflict has largely dominated the region’s geopolitics. Israel won the first Arab-Israeli War in 1948 and all the wars that followed it. But whether the Israelis and the Palestinians could reach an acceptable settlement, and thus bring peace to the Middle East, remained a central concern in international affairs.

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