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It was the result of the 2003 American invasion of Iraq, which overturned the balance of power between Arab states and Iran by dislodging Saddam Hussein and allowing chaos to spread.The United States and Israel – outsiders in the Arab world – mostly fight from the skies.It's highly significant, Nasr explained to me, that Syria (backed by Iran and Russia) was able to down an Israeli fighter jet.For its part, Russia having aligned itself with Iran while still maintaining close ties with Israel – has emerged as the kind of outside balancer that America once was.Since 1973, when Henry Kissinger essentially expelled the Russians from the Middle East, the United States has been the pre-eminent outside power. A different American approach – engaging with Iran and working with Turkey and Russia – might return it to its unique place in the region and help create a more stable balance of power in what remains the world's most volatile hot spot.
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