As tensions simmer between Tehran and Riyadh, the deputy chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has warned that Saudi Arabia will soon “collapse” if it continues its pursuit of regional destabilization.
Iran has made no secret about its outrage over Saudi Arabia’s decision to execute 47 people on Saturday, including a prominent Shiite cleric. Mass protests broke out across the globe, and Iran has had its diplomatic ties with Bahrain, Sudan, Djibouti, and Saudi Arabia, severed.
On Thursday, the second-in-command of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned the kingdom that its continued pursuit of sectarian policies will ultimately come back to harm Riyadh.
“The policies of the Saudi regime will have a domino effect and they will be buried under the avalanche they created,” said Brigadier General Hossein Salami, according to Fars news agency.
“If the Saudis do not correct their path, their regime will collapse in coming years.”
Salami also compared Riyadh’s policies to those of Saddam Hussein, prior to his ouster in the US-led invasion of Iraq.
“The path the Saudi regime is taking is like the one Saddam took in the 1980s and 90s. He started a war with Iran, executed prominent clerics and top officials, suppressed dissidents and ended up having that miserable fate.”
The general called Riyadh’s decision to sever diplomatic ties with Iran “irrational and hateful,” and added that the violence in both Iraq and Syria were “the results of Saudi’s sectarian policies in the region.”
Earlier this week, an analysis released by US-based political consultant firm Eurasia Group also agreed that the kingdom’s reckless actions stem from a kind of existential panic.
“Saudi Arabia is in serious trouble, and they know it,” Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, told Business Insider.
According to the analysis, “The Saudi Kingdom faces a growing risk of destabilizing discord within the royal family this year, and its increasingly isolated status will lead it to act more aggressively across the Middle East this year.”
While there are many factors contributing to Riyadh’s identity crisis, the most significant may be the Iran nuclear deal.
“The key source of external Saudi anxiety is Iran, soon to be free of sanctions,” Eurasia Group’s report reads.
As Tehran abides by the accord, international sanctions will gradually be lifted. Saudi Arabia fears that an Iran no longer hindered by international penalties will present a threat to Riyadh’s regional influence.
Fear And Loathing in the House of Saud
Desperation does not even begin to describe the current plight of the House of Saud.
By Pepe Escobar
Riyadh was fully aware the beheading of respected Saudi Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr was a deliberate provocation bound to elicit a rash Iranian response.
The Saudis calculated they could get away with it; after all they employ the best American PR machine petrodollars can buy, and are viscerally defended by the usual gaggle of nasty US neo-cons.
In a post-Orwellian world “order” where war is peace and “moderate” jihadis get a free pass, a House of Saud oil hacienda cum beheading paradise — devoid of all civilized norms of political mediation and civil society participation — heads the UN Commission on Human Rights and fattens the US industrial-military complex to the tune of billions of dollars while merrily exporting demented Wahhabi/Salafi-jihadism from MENA (Middle East-Northern Africa) to Europe and from the Caucasus to East Asia.
And yet major trouble looms. Erratic King Salman’s move of appointing his son, the supremely arrogant and supremely ignorant Prince Mohammad bin Salman to number two in the line of succession has been contested even among Wahhabi hardliners.
But don’t count on petrodollar-controlled Arab media to tell the story.
English-language TV network Al-Arabiyya, for instance, based in the Emirates, long financed by House of Saud members, and owned by the MBC conglomerate, was bought by none other than Prince Mohammad himself, who will also buy MBC.
With oil at less than $40 a barrel, largely thanks to Saudi Arabia’s oil war against both Iran and Russia, Riyadh’s conventional wars are taking a terrible toll. The budget has collapsed and the House of Saud has been forced to raise taxes.
The illegal war on Yemen, conducted with full US acquiescence, led by — who else — Prince Mohammad, and largely carried out by the proverbial band of mercenaries, has instead handsomely profited al-Qaeda in the Arabic Peninsula (AQAP), just as the war on Syria has profited mostly Jabhat al-Nusra, a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria.
Three months ago, Saudi ulemas called for a jihad not only against Damascus but also Tehran and Moscow without the “civilized” West batting an eyelid; after all the ulemas were savvy enough to milk the “Russian aggression” bandwagon, comparing the Russian intervention in Syria, agreed with Damascus, with the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
US Think Tankland revels in spinning that the beheading provocation was a “signal” to Tehran that Riyadh will not tolerate Iranian influence among Shi’ites living in predominantly Sunni states. And yet Beltway cackle that Riyadh hoped to contain “domestic Shi’ite tensions” by beheading al-Nimr does not even qualify as a lousy propaganda script. To see why this is nonsense, let’s take a quick tour of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern province.
All Eyes on Al Sharqiyya
Saudi Arabia is essentially a huge desert island. Even though the oil hacienda is bordered by the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, the Saudis don’t control what matters: the key channels of communication/energy exporting bottlenecks — the Bab el-Mandeb and the Straits of Hormuz, not to mention the Suez canal.
Enter US “protection” as structured in a Mafia-style “offer you can’t refuse” arrangement; we guarantee safe passage for the oil export flow through our naval patrols and you buy from us, non-stop, a festival of weapons and host our naval bases alongside other GCC minions. The “protection” used to be provided by the former British empire. So Saudi Arabia — as well as the GCC — remains essentially an Anglo-American satrapy.
Al Sharqiyya — the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia — holds only 4 million people, the overwhelming majority Shi’ites. And yet it produces no less than 80% of Saudi oil. The heart of the action is the provincial capital Al Qatif, where Nimr al-Nimr was born. We’re talking about the largest oil hub on the planet, consisting of 12 crisscrossed pipelines that connect to massive Gulf oil terminals such as Dhahran and Ras Tanura.
Enter the strategic importance of neighboring Bahrain. Historically, all the lands from Basra in southern Iraq to the peninsula of Musandam, in Oman — traditional trade posts between Europe and India — were known as Bahrain (“between two seas”).
Tehran could easily use neighboring Bahrain to infiltrate Al Sharqiyya, detach it from Riyadh’s control, and configure a “Greater Bahrain” allied with Iran. That’s the crux of the narrative peddled by petrodollar-controlled media, the proverbial Western “experts”, and incessantly parroted in the Beltway.
There’s no question Iranian hardliners cherish the possibility of a perpetual Bahraini thorn on Riyadh’s side. That would imply weaponizing a popular revolution in Al Sharqiyya. But the fact is not even Nimr al-Nimr was in favor of a secession of Al Sharqiyya.
And that’s also the view of the Rouhani administration in Tehran. Whether disgruntled youth across Al Sharqiyya will finally have had enough with the beheading of al-Nimr it’s another story; it may open a Pandora’s box that will not exactly displease the IRGC in Tehran.
But the heart of the matter is that Team Rouhani perfectly understands the developing Southwest Asia chapter of the New Great Game, featuring the re-emergence of Iran as a regional superpower; all of the House of Saud’s moves, from hopelessly inept to major strategic blunder, betray utter desperation with the end of the old order.
That spans everything from an unwinnable war (Yemen) to a blatant provocation (the beheading of al-Nimr) and a non sequitur such as the new Islamic 34-nation anti-terror coalition which most alleged members didn’t even know they were a part of.
The supreme House of Saud obsession rules, drenched in fear and loathing: the Iranian “threat”.
Riyadh, which is clueless on how to play geopolitical chess — or backgammon — will keep insisting on the oil war, as it cannot even contemplate a military confrontation with Tehran. And everything will be on hold, waiting for the next tenant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue; will he/she be tempted to pivot back to Southwest Asia, and cling to the old order (not likely, as Washington relies on becoming independent from Saudi oil)? Or will the House of Saud be left to its own — puny — devices among the shark-infested waters of hardcore geopolitics?
Pepe Escobar is an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia. Born in Brazil, he’s been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong.
Fact is Putin’s stopped the main plan, leaving SA exposed –
In a 2007 TV interview, Gen. Wesley Clark stated the following:
About ten days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say ‘hello’ to some of the people in the joint staff who used to work for me, and one of the Generals called me in. He said, ‘Sir, you’ve got to come in and talk to me for a second.’ I said, ‘You’re too busy.’ He said, ‘No. We have made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq.’ I said, ‘We’re going to war with Iraq? Why?’ He said, ‘I don’t know, I guess they don’t know what else to do.’ So I said, ‘Well did they find some information connecting Saddam to Al-Qaeda?’ He said, ‘No, there’s nothing new that way, they just made the decision to go to war with Iraq.’ So I came back to see the same guy a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, ‘Are we still going to war with Iraq?’ And he said, ‘Oh it’s worse than that.’ And he reached over to his desk, picked up a piece of paper and he said, ‘I’ve just got this down from upstairs.’ (Meaning the Secretary of Defence’s [sic] office) and he said, ‘This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.’ I said, ‘Is it classified?’ He said, ‘Yes, sir.’ I said, ‘Well don’t show it to me.’ And I saw him a year or so later and I said, ‘You remember that…?’ He said, ‘Sir, I didn’t show you that memo. I didn’t show it to you.3
In a TV interview that took place two years before large-scale violence exploded in Syria, Roland Dumas, former French Foreign Minister said the following:
I’m going to tell you something. I was in England, two years before the violence in Syria, on other business. I met with top British officials who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain, not in America. Britain was organizing an invasion of rebels into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer Minister for Foreign Affairs, if I would like to participate.” Responding to a question on the motive behind inciting violence in Syria, Dumas said, “Very simple, with a very simple aim – to overthrow the Syrian government because in the region it’s important to understand that the Syrian regime makes anti-Israeli talk.” And then the former Foreign Minister added that he’d been told, by an Israeli Prime Minister a long time ago, that Tel Aviv would seek to destroy any country that did not get along with it in the region. It is not just about Israel, it is about the acquisition of country after country across the Middle and Near East, North Africa and then going deeper and deeper South into Africa. This has been planned for decades.