Iran has taken advantage of developments like the Syrian civil war to form new alliances and expand its influence in the Middle East. Iran’s growing political power has shifted the region’s battle lines, pitting the Islamic theocracy against Western-allied Gulf states and Israel. Compared with the belligerent US response, European policy has remained less resolute. In this policy brief, experts of the European Council on Foreign Relations explain why Europe is uniquely positioned to help prevent a wider regional war.
Two opposing coalitions in the Middle East define a rivalry that threatens to tear the region apart. As competition for dominance intensifies, the confrontation between Iran’s network of state and non-state actors, and a counter-front of traditional Western allies – centred on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel – has become the region’s central battle line.