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.
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by Alan M. Dershowitz
by Pierre Rehov
For terrorists, the death of innocent children is irrelevant. In a society that promotes martyrdom as the ultimate sign of success, the death of innocent children can sometimes even be seen as a public relations blessing.
In every action, intent is paramount. There should never be a moral equivalence painted between the deliberate killing of civilians, and a retaliation that tragically leads to casualties among civilians.
There is, however, one small difference: in the Middle East, reporters are threatened, except in Israel. Their choice becomes a simple one: promote the Palestinian point of view or stop working in the West Bank. Keep the eye of the camera dirty or lose your job. This show should not go on.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
Since 1948, the Arab countries and government have been paying mostly lip service to the Palestinians.
"They have money and oil, but don't care about the Palestinians, even though we are Arabs and Muslims like them. What a Saudi or Qatari sheikh spends in one night in London, Paris or Las Vegas could solve the problem of tens of thousands of Palestinians." — Palestinian human rights activist.
"Some Arabs were hoping that Israel would rid them of Hamas." — Ashraf Salameh, Gaza City.
"Some of the Arab regimes are interested in getting rid of the resistance in order to remove the burden of the Palestinian cause, which threatens the stability of their regimes." — Mustafa al-Sawwaf, Palestinian political analyst.
"Most Arabs are busy these days with bloody battles waged by their leaders, who are struggling to survive. These battles are raging in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya and the Palestinian Authority." — Mohammed al-Musafer, columnist.
"The Arab leaders don't know what they want from the Gaza Strip. They don't even know what they want from Israel." — Yusef Rizka, Hamas official.
by Soeren Kern
European elites, who take pride in viewing the EU as a "postmodern" superpower, have long argued that military hard-power is illegitimate in the 21st century. Unfortunately for Europe, Russia (along with China and Iran) has not embraced the EU's fantastical soft-power worldview, in which "climate change" is now said to pose the greatest threat to European security.
For its part, the European Commission, the EU's administrative branch, which never misses an opportunity to boycott institutions in Israel, has issued only a standard statement on the shooting down of MH17 in Ukraine, which reads: "The European Union will continue to follow this issue very closely."
The EU has made only half-hearted attempts to develop alternatives to its dependency on Russian oil and gas.
by Shoshana Bryen
Proportionality in international law is not about equality of death or civilian suffering, or even about [equality of] firepower. Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against suffering that the action might cause to enemy civilians in the vicinity.
"Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable does not constitute a war crime.... even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur. A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality)." — Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court.
"The greater the military advantage anticipated, the larger the amount of collateral damage -- often civilian casualties -- which will be "justified" and "necessary." — Dr. Françoise Hampton, University of Essex, UK.