Keep your eyes firmly on the Arabian Peninsula over the next few weeks. Some very interesting - and threatening - developments there could destabilize the entire Middle East, and conceivably the entire world.
- The Houthi tribe, members of the Zaydi sect of Shia Islam, have taken over the Presidential palace in Yemen. They're said to be backed by Iran. The government of Yemen has resigned following the takeover, which threatens the position of the Sunni Moslem Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in that country. AQAP is aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), sometimes referred to simply as Islamic State, which currently dominates proceedings in Iraq and Syria. Full-scale civil war appears likely in Yemen.
- Iran is supporting Iraqi and Kurdish forces in their fight against ISIL, and has sent its own military forces to the battlefield. If it's behind the Houthi takeover in Yemen, it's likely it got involved there to block any increase in influence by the ISIL-supporting AQAP.
- If AQAP can maintain and strengthen its position in Yemen, then ISIL can infiltrate Saudi Arabia from the North while AQAP does the same from the South. The King of Saudi Arabia died last week, and his successor is reported to be in poor health and suffering from senility. Whether he is or not, the government of Saudi Arabia is currently in a state of flux. The handover of power, with at least thirty princes more or less eligible for the succession and thousands of minor royalty jockeying for position and influence, is never easy in such a nation. That offers an opportunity for ISIL and AQAP. If they strike before the Saudi administration settles down, they may be able to exploit its current weakness and uncertainty. It's a perfect time for them to attack - and perhaps take over - the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. I'll bet my next decade's income they're discussing it as you read these words.
- Remember the speed with which ISIL took over huge swaths of Iraq? Their black-bannered convoys of fundamentalist terrorist fighters appeared to sweep all before them as demoralized government troops melted away like snow in the sunlight. If you think Saudi Arabian ground forces will perform any better, you don't know the situation in the Middle East very well. That's why US and Coalition forces had to be the prime movers and fighters in both Gulf Wars - our Arab 'allies' were incapable of doing so for themselves.
If there's a move by ISIL and AQAP to invade Saudi Arabia, then that country's mortal enemy, Iran, might find itself (however reluctantly) forced to support its rival for power in the Persian Gulf, the Saudi royal family. What's more, you'll see the price of oil, which has tumbled in recent months, just as swiftly reverse itself. I'm betting it could hit $150-$200 per barrel within four to six weeks if things go badly wrong. Just imagine what that would do to the already fragile world economy.
Keep your eyes firmly fixed on the Arabian Peninsula. I'm thinking we ain't seen nothin' yet . . .