File photo of Prince Bandar bin Sultan Secretary-General of Saudi Arabia's National Security Council with Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as they meet in MoscowSome 40 years ago, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat ended his regime’s alliance with, and reliance on, the Soviet Union, and, in one of the Cold war’s most dramatic turnabouts, joined the Middle Eastern bloc of nations close to the United States. The switch led to the Camp David peace accords, the defeat of a Soviet-sponsored rebellion in the Arabian Peninsula, the taming of the Communist regime in South Yemen and the containment of the Ba’athist regimes of Syria and Iraq. Since the modern Middle East emerged from the debris of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the region has needed an outside power to ensure stability by curbing internal and external ambitions, and acting as an honest broker. Through the 1950s, Britain played that role. Then, until the late 1960s, the region was divided into Soviet and British spheres of influence, with the United States getting a cameo role every now and then. But by 1980, despite the fall of the pro-West regime in Iran, America was the principal guarantor of stability in the region. More