June 2017

Proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia

06 20 2017

What we are seeing in the Middle East is a blatant proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.  This brawl has been devastatingly fought out across Syria’s many cities, and also in Yemen, nearly 600,000 people have died in Syria and Yemen combined.  The region’s two most ruthless centers of power — the house of Saud and the Ayatollahs in Iran — find themselves fighting each other not just for influence but for the position of who will be the leader of the Muslim world.

Iran and Saudi Arabia remain deeply hostile to one another. As one of Saudi Arabia’s most significant figures, Prince Turki al-Faisal, said on a recent visit to London, ‘Saudi Arabia is the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the birthplace of Islam. As such, it is the foremost leader of the wider Muslim world. Opposing the Saudis is Iran; Iran portrays itself as the leader of not just the minority Shiite world, but of all Muslim revolutionaries interested in standing up to the West.’  Saudi Arabia despises Iran—the feeling is mutual.

Prince Turki condemned Iran’s ‘meddling’ and its ‘destabilizing efforts in the countries with Shia majorities — Iraq and Bahrain — as well as in those countries with significant minority Shia communities such as Kuwait, Lebanon and Yemen.’ As he asserted, ‘Saudi Arabia will oppose any and all of Iran’s actions in other countries, because it is Saudi Arabia’s position that Iran has no right to meddle in other nations’ internal affairs, especially those of Arab states.’

Clearly tensions between the two nations are swelling.  Saudi officials more recently called for the Iranian leadership to be called to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for war crimes. And what is most disturbing is the rumors that the Saudis will buy nuclear bombs ‘off the shelf’ from their contacts in Pakistan if Iran ever reaches anything approximating the nuclear dawn.

This proxy war is not a rumor of war—it is a real war being fought out between these two nations, and the war is escalating.  It is only two years ago that the Iranians attempted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington. The plan was foiled only because the two suspects — an Iranian-American and an officer from Iran’s Quds Force — ignorantly connected with an informant from US Drug Enforcement Administration.   Remember Matthew 24:6 tells us we will hear of more wars—it seems like this proxy war is far from over and will continue to destabilize the Middle East.

To add to the current Middle East chaos we have a break in Saudi Qatari relations.  In early June Saudi Arabia led a six-nation effort to cut ties with Qatar (on June 5th).  The nations in question – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen and the Maldives – also banned all travel to and from Qatar and, with the exception of Egypt, and ordered their citizens living in the country to leave.  Why the breakdown?  The Saudis believe Qatar is supporting terrorist organizations that are hostile to the Saudi Royal family; also Qatar has become too friendly with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s great enemy.  The Saudis have had enough!

To add to the mess, and it is a BIG mess… The United States is supportive of Saudi Arabia and angry at Qatar as well because the U.S believes that Qatar gives money to terrorist groups—which it does.  But this gets complicated—remember the Middle East is layered with complications.  America is supportive of Saudi Arabia but the regional headquarters of the U.S. Central Command is in Qatar, and the Qataris have helped the United States not just in the Middle East but also in South Asia, where they assist in peace negotiations with the Afghan Taliban.  So America is in the middle of the disagreement between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, looking to maintain friendly relations with both countries.

Adding yet another layer to this row… Iran has sent hundreds of tons of food to Qatar in recent days, because Qatar is almost entirely dependent for food from foreign exports.  So this means Iran is now more engaged in the affairs of the Arab world because they are helping Qatar; remember most of the Arab monarchies loathe Iran.  The food was meant to help relieve Qatar from its economic isolation after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Doha and closed their air, sea and land borders to the tiny Persian Gulf state.  Qatar needs to get food somewhere so now they are relying on Iran.  This proxy war will only get worse in the months ahead.  I am watching this proxy war very closely—there is no solution in sight!

One Middle East nation that has not abandoned Qatar is its long-time friend Turkey. Turkey has constructive dealings with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well; but Turkey sponsors Qatar’s efforts to stand up to Saudi Arabia’s authority in the Middle East; Why– because Turkey wants to become the dominant Sunni power in the region.

As we continually see, Middle East relationships are layered with intrigue and complications. Expect greater pandemonium in the Middle East!—Steven LeBlanc

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