There are moments in history when a window opens and fate grabs a country by the hand. When circumstances such as these present themselves, it is unfortunate when one misses the opportunity to embrace fate’s grasp and hold this hand tightly.
Various circumstances merge to create the right conditions for a nation-state to rise. With its victory over Napoleon and France, Britain emerged as the global superpower and master of Europe.
It seemed to be in a position to expand its destiny to all corners of the globe for over a century.
This state of affairs would last from 1815-1939. However, with the Wall Street crash of 1929 and the collapse of the international financial system, the emergence of the gangster powers presented itself with Mussolini’s Italy, Hitler’s Germany and the Japanese empire.
These three rising powers were determined to use the opportunity to engage in empire building of their own. Italy wanted to resurrect a “new Roman empire” in North Africa, Germany to make colonies of its neighbors and the continent of Europe, and Japan to conquer much of the Pacific.
At the end of World War II, despite being a victorious power, Britain was broke, incapable of holding its empire and a junior partner to the US. The defeat of Hitler brought two new powers, the US and the Soviet Union.
The US inherited to some degree the former overseas British bases, and its economic and military might, as well as having the global reserve currency, made it the preeminent power of the Western world.
The Soviet Union’s supreme effort in defeating Germany brought Moscow to the summit of global affairs, too, through its occupation of Central and Eastern Europe. The age of the empires had ended and the era of the superpowers began.
However, today, geopolitical events are once again shifting, threatening to bring instability, belligerence and even large-scale war.
Vladimir Putin’s Russia is seizing the opportunity to reclaim Russia’s former territorial empire. The world has all but accepted Putin’s fait accompli in Georgia.
Does anyone even ask Moscow to leave South Ossetia or Abkhazia? Russia is now bold enough to nakedly deploy operational capabilities directly into the Syrian battlefield to support the sadists in Damascus in the face of international opposition.
Iran, too, has used uncertainty, indecisiveness and a lack of cohesion from the global community to get a more than favorable nuclear deal, consolidate its hold in Baghdad and Damascus, and begin expanding its reach into Yemen and beyond to North Africa.
Like Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany, Russia and Iran are gangster powers, who can afford to be opportunistic because they are clear about their aims. As long as they face weak opposition, which is divided and lacking cohesion, they can afford to double down on risky bets and look bold.
In today’s environment, the announcement of an Islamic Military Counterterrorism Coalition is a watershed moment, with Saudi Arabia becoming the clear leader of the Muslim world and a rising hegemonic power in the Arab world.
Under Riyadh’s leadership, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) began the work of confronting the scourge of terrorism as well as Iran.
The council was able to project itself in Libya, help stabilize Egypt through humanitarian aid, intervene decisively in Yemen as part of a broad military coalition, continue to uphold the rightful sovereignty of Bahrain, speak out against the butcher of Damascus, and take the first steps against Daesh. Not bad in only a few years’ work.
While many have passively watched, dithering between indifference and indecisiveness, we have made our presence felt. Others nervously look away or choose to neglect reality, hoping that somehow things will just go away. We will not do that and, most importantly, cannot afford to do that.
We are now recognized as the undisputed leader of the Muslim world. Our friends and partners, both inside and outside the region, have acknowledged this as well.
We enthusiastically congratulate the sons and daughters of the Gulf coalition who have fought in the air over Syria and on the ground in Yemen.
We thank King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their stewardship of the Kingdom in these times of uncertainty.
It is through the people mentioned above that we are making our rise to the summit as one of the elite powers on the planet. They are assuming a leadership role that some are not willing to claim. And it is through them that we will claim our peak.
• Faisal Al-Shammeri is a political analyst. Twitter: @Mr_Alshammeri