Iran and Saudi Arabia: The latest skirmishes and its impact on Syria’s future

January 9, 2016 12:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

The protracted regional power struggle and proxy wars between Iran and Saudi Arabia, in volatile places as in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Lebanon, has only intensified as a result of Riyadh’s miscalculated summary execution of the Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and a few dozen alleged Al-Qaida and ISIS members, the latter ironically conceived and supported by the Saudis themselves. This is viewed by experts as a last desperate attempt by the Saudis to muddy the waters by mixing the Shiites with their own product, ISIS, two fundamentally divergent entities. The Saudis tried to dodge their domestic socio-political and economic shortfalls by trying to quench internal dissent, especially among the disenfranchised and impoverished Shiite minority, while exerting ideological hegemony over the Muslim world. Consequently, the prospect of ending the war in Syria has now taken a giant step backwards. The dramatic fall in oil prices perpetrated by Saudi overproduction of oil, in their dire hope of undermining the re-emergence of Iran as a regional power, seems to have backfired with the destabilisation and potential demise of the Saudi royal kingdom itself.

Whereas there is no independent estimate of the human population on the Hijaz-Najd peninsula (as Saudi Arabia was called till 1932 when the new country was carved out by the British and, later, American oil consortia) the population today splits three ways: 10 million dominant Wahhabi Sunnis from which the 60,000 strong theocratic ruling royal family has emerged and controls almost all wealth and power, 10 million unrecognised and repressed Shiites, and 10 million enslaved foreign nationals who perform most of the labour in the country.

As there is no perfect government in the region, blame can be attributed to all of them as well as to those westerners who meddle in the region on account of their own ulterior motives. The US once again embarrassingly finds itself on the wrong side by remaining allied to the absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia – a dictatorial regime responsible for providing the Wahhabi driven ISIS with ideological, financial and military support. Let us remind ourselves that the majority of the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks were from Saudi Arabia. Although a growing number of individuals have no confidence in America’s intentions in the region, if the US is genuinely interested in helping to bring about a degree of stability and much yearned justice to the region (benefitting east and west alike), she must hold terrorists and their sponsors to account, regardless of whether they are from Saudi Arabia, Israel, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Russia, Iran or elsewhere.

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This post was written by David Rahni

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