But Saudi Arabia was infuriated by the Qatar-MB nexus, and set out to roll it back. Saudi support for Sisi’s coup in Egypt formed an important part of the latter’s success.

The Saudis are also terrified at the prospect of a nuclear Iran and subsequent domination of the Gulf and the wider region.  Saudi support for and cultivation of allies in Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Yemen and elsewhere should be seen in this light.

So the Saudis are engaged in a political war on two fronts, with an acute awareness of the high stakes involved.

The Iranians and their allies  have a clear-eyed view of the obstacles to their ambitions, as indicated by the appearance of this article in Al-Akhbar.

The Turks and the Muslim Brotherhood also well understand the nature of the power political game. Their current dismay reflects their recent setbacks in it.

Israel, too, has an acute understanding of the Iranian threat and is a powerful, un-declared ally to the Saudi-led bloc.

Everyone gets the nature of the game.  Until you look outside of the region.

The dominant trends in the U.S. and western Europe entirely fail to grasp the nature and the dynamic of this contest.  There, the talk remains filled with airy hopes of a new era represented by President Rouhani of Iran, focus on the insolvable, currently dormant Israeli-Palestinian conflict, nostalgia for the “Arab Spring,”  and hope that a new wave of supposedly democratizing protest may still be ahead, or simply fatigue and a desire to disengage.  In general — confusion and feeble-mindedness.

Now, the Saudis have so far done quite well, using money and political influence, against the Muslim Brotherhood.

But against the Iranians, who know how to utilize hard power effectively, as they are  demonstrating in Syria, the monarchies are in a far weaker position.  The Saudis can do politics, but have a poor record of organizing insurgencies. In the days when they were just part of a larger pro-American formation in the region, this didn’t matter much.  Uncle Sam took care of keeping the really bad guys at bay.  But Uncle Sam isn’ t quite there anymore.

This leaves Israel, the undeclared ally, as the only element with both the will and the ability to effectively deploy force against the Iranians and their allies, as it has demonstrated at least five times over the skies of Syria in the past year.

Which means that if the U.S. and the West really are determined to disengage, then the stage is set for a three-bloc fight for the regional crown.  This fight and its outcome will define the Middle East in the era following the long Pax Americana that held sway from 1973 til sometime around now.