Watch part two

People & Power's Samah El-Shahat questions the shifting balances of power between the West and the Middle East and looks at the emergence of Iran as a new regional power.

The war in Iraq is said to have cost $500bn and the lifes of more than 3300 soldiers so far.

But, the US has, in fact, already paid a higher price by the erosion of its influence in the Middle East.

Since the war began in 2003, the region has been divided into two camps – the pro-US vs the pro-Iran.

Characterised by a prominent anti-American feeling, this latter group has been called "the other side of the divide" by Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state.

Events such as the war in Lebanon and the rise in authority of Hamas in Palestine only confirm the US's loss of influence in the Middle East and ultimately the weakening of their strategic and economic power.

Soon Iran could be trading oil using denominations other than the dollar, another sign that US economic hegemony in the Middle East could be reaching the end.

Our People & Power discussion

Samah El-Shahat asks John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the UN, and William Clarke, an information security analyst, what they think the role of the US is in the new Middle East, who its allies are and what kind of challenge Iran represents.

This episode of People & Power airs from Sunday, April 27, 2008.