An Israeli flag is seen placed on Mount Bental in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights on May 10, 2018.

The pantomime is in full swing, but no one knows the end of the script.

Amid the severe tribulations afflicting the Middle East – horrendous clashes on the Gaza border, missile exchanges between Iran and Israel, the surprise success of the hard-line Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraqi elections and the perpetual wars in Yemen and Syria – one could be forgiven for missing an event that took place recently in Saudi Arabia, named (perhaps aptly) “The Greatest Royal Rumble”.

The stars of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) arrived in Jeddah for a show that saw them condemned for acceding to Saudi demands to leave their female performers behind and a willingness to voice Saudi state propaganda. Four aspiring but unknown Saudi wrestlers were pitted against the perfect villains, in the form of the Iranian-American wrestling star Ariya Daivari and his brother Shawn. The Daivaris, native Minnesotans, took to the ring waving the Iranian flag and began to trash talk the Saudis, only pliantly to accept a good beating in front of the baying crowd.

As absurd as this spectacle was, it says something that the Saudi state was willing to pay so much for it. Behind the pantomime propaganda, a jostling for psychological superiority is under way across the Middle East in the midst of a proxy war that is getting hotter every week. The Saudis and Iranians are two of the most active protagonists – having taken to flooding YouTube with computer game-style war simulations in which one vanquishes the armies of the other with a potent display of military force – but they are by no means the only ones taking part.

In recent weeks, a Twitter account that purports to be run by Mossad has been trolling some of Israel’s enemies, including Iran’s supreme leader. Although it turns …read more

Source:: New Statesman

      

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