US president’s visit to Saudi Arabia comes at a moment of great upheaval as Russia and China compete for influence

Across the battlefields of the Middle East, the ground is shifting. New alliances mitigate old enmities. Revised calculations of national advantage, evolving priorities and cautious diplomatic bridge-building conjure tantalising hopes of peace on multiple fronts.

But change driven by fear has shallow roots. And fear, rather than faith in any wider vision, still permeates this contested landscape. The context, as ever, is a great power struggle between a newly aggressive Russia, an expansionist China, and a US determined to get back in the game.

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