Iran vs. Saudi Arabia: War on the Horizon?
Saudi Arabia was not surprised when U.S. authorities uncovered the Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Abdel al-Jubair. According to Saudi intelligence, Teheran in the last months has started a campaign of chain murders targeting Saudi diplomats to destabilize the Royal family.
In May 2011, gunmen on motorcycles shot and killed Hassan al-Qahtani, a Saudi diplomat working in the consulate in the Pakistani city of Karachi. The murder came after a previous attack on the Karachi Consulate with Russian-made HE-36 hand grenades. At first the media linked the assassination to Al-Qaeda groups trying to revenge the killing of Osama bin Laden, but further investigation revealed that the murder was planned by the Iran's Quds Force. Pakistani intelligence identified the Saudi diplomat's killer as a member of a Shi'ite terrorist organization, Sipah-e-Muhammad [the Army of Muhammad], which maintains close links to the Quds Force. The link to the killing was allegedly proven by recorded messages between Iranian officials in Islamabad and members of the terrorist group.
In September 2011, the Saudi online newspaper Elaph revealed that the Saudi Ambassador to Cairo, Ahmad Abdel-Aziz Kattan, survived an attempted assassination by poison, allegedly staged by Iran.
Elaph states that the Saudi diplomats, al-Jubair included, are all linked to prince Bandar bin Sultan, Secretary-General of the National Security Council, and former Ambassador to the U.S., 1983-2005. Prince Bandar, a strong opponent of Iranian influence in the Middle East, is at the center of an Iranian smear campaign to discredit him and tarnish his image. Recently, Iranian media have gone so far as to circulate fake "news" according to which Prince Bandar would have been arrested by Syrian security forces at Damascus Airport and would have confessed that he was involved in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri - for which, instead, the Syrian government has been indicated by international investigators.
Saudi Arabia: The Obstacle to Iran's Ambitions in the Middle East
Sunni Saudi Arabia is generally perceived by Iran as possibly the greatest obstacle to its ambitions in the Middle East, in that Iran has been trying to export its Shi'te Islamic revolution both culturally and militarily throughout the Middle East, according to Ahmed Jarallah, editor-in-chief of the Kuwaiti paper, Al-Seyassah.
Saudi Arabia tried to do everything it could, both politically and militarily, to stop a recent Shi'ite uprisings in Bahrain -- an island off the coast of Saudi Arabia that is predominately Shi'ite but ruled by Sunnis -- which Iran has been claiming belongs to Iran, and which is separated from Saudi Arabia by only a small causeway a few miles long. The Saudis were concerned that the Shi'ite uprising in Bahrain might embolden Saudi Arabia's own minority Shi'ite population -- located by the oil fields, far from Riyadh, Mecca and Medina -- thereby increasing Iran's influence over the Arabian Peninsula.
Saudi Arabia must therefore have been alarmed by the announcement that the U.S. would be leaving Iraq. Saudi Arabia might well assume that even though it managed to thwart Iran's influence in Bahrain, Iran will nevertheless manage to try to take control of the oil-rich region by way of Iraq. The Saudis have desperately been trying to find strategic ways to prevent such a scenario, including probably hoping for a change in the U.S. administration in next year's election.
"The facts on the ground say that Tehran's influence in Iraq has increased under the eyes of the current US administration," writes Tareq Al-Homayed, editor-in-chief of the Saudi newspaper, Asharq Al-Awsat, "whilst Iranian influence [in Iraq] also benefited from the mistakes made by the previous US administration. This is not all, for now we see Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad […] appear in an interview on CNN saying that he does not expect any change in his country's relations with Iraq following the withdrawal of US forces. Indeed Ahmadinejad went on to confidently state – and this is the crux of the matter – that 'the government of Iraq, the parliament, we have a very good relationship with all of them…and we have deepened our ties day by day.'" Al-Homayed adds, "This 'day by day' is true, and it has happened before the eyes of the Americans, therefore the extent of Iran's influence in Iraq is no surprise, nor is Tehran's support for the Shiite militias there. It is enough to listen to the complaints of the honorable people of Iraq – Sunnis and Shii'tes and others – who do not accept their country becoming a proxy in Iranian hands or ruled by Qassem Suleimani and his Qods Force."
Iran Would Like a War in the Middle East
As the Kuwaiti paper Al-Seyassah pointed out, Iran might soon start a war in Middle East as the only way to show that Tehran still has influence in region and can threaten whoever opposes its plans. If Bashar al-Assad is removed from power in Syria, Iran could be concerned that the world might perceive Iran as isolated; it could therefore want to make the point that even if Syria might be lost for now, Iran can still take control of Iraq, and fight proxy wars by means of its proxy group, Hezbollah. To Iran, the main enemy that stands in its way is Saudi Arabia, which has already fought Iran's influence in Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain and Iraq.
As Saudi Arabia is the first new superpower in the Arab world, Iran might well have designs on replacing it. Al Seyassah's editor in chief recently noted that Iran's conspiracies necessitated constant caution and that Teheran is trying to make a conflict zone out of the Middle East. He then differentiated between the Shi'ite faith in the Arab world, which does not pose any threat, and what he labeled "Persian Safavi Shi'ism" --- referring to the most significant Persian dynasty that controlled "Greater Iran," when it stretched from the Caucasus to the Indus River, and represented Iran's aims and ideologies to exercise its influence throughout the Arab world.
Comment on this item
by Alan M. Dershowitz
by Alan M. Dershowitz
by Soeren Kern
"There is no territory more occupied than the body of a Palestinian woman, or a strip... severed by the violent imposition of the superstitions of Allah and the followers of Mohammed. We had better not even mention the situation of Palestinian homosexuals. This selective outrage by top progressives when it involves Israel is indeed anti-Semitism." — Alberto Moyano, Spanish newspaper editor.
"It is possible legitimately to criticize Israel. But it smells fishy when all of the blame is attributed to Israel, without even mentioning the small detail that a terrorist and jihadist group that rules Gaza has infringed on every conceivable humanitarian principle, by using civilians as human shields, and launching missiles from apartment blocks, while their leaders are living comfortable in Qatar, guests of a sheik." — Ángel Mas, Spanish analyst.
There has been virtually no public outcry whatsoever in Spain over the deaths of more than 160,000 people during three years of fighting in Syria; the decimation of ancient Christian communities at the hands of Islamists in Iraq; the kidnapping of 300 girls by Islamists in Nigeria; or the downing of a civilian passenger plane in Ukraine.
"The most anti-Semitic people are supposedly the most educated and well-informed." — Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs report on anti-Semitism in Spain.
by Alan M. Dershowitz
by Khaled Abu Toameh
There is growing concern in Ramallah, Cairo, Riyadh and Dubai that the U.S. Administration is working to prevent the collapse of Hamas.
"The Americans mistakenly think that moderate political Islam, which is represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, will be able to combat radical Islam. The Americans are trying to bring the Muslim Brotherhood back to the region." — Palestinian official, Ramallah.
The Iranians, with whom the U.S. is now negotiating on nuclear weapons -- amid fears in the Middle East that the U.S. will capitulate to Tehran's demands if it has not effectively capitulated to them already -- have now joined Qatar and Turkey in opposing any attempt to confiscate Hamas's weapons.
The Paris conference was actually a spit in the face to the anti-Hamas forces in the Arab world. By failing to invite the Palestinian Authority to the conference, Kerry indicated that he does not see any role for Abbas and his loyalists in a post-Hamas Gaza Strip.