“Iran is Salman’s top issue. This month, Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave an interview condemning Iran in extremely harsh sectarian terms. The prince, the king’s favorite son, characterized the Iranian Islamic Republic as being driven by messianic prophecies and determined to dominate the entire Islamic community. He claimed that Iran sought to take control of Mecca from the kingdom. There was no room for dialogue with Tehran, according to his statement. Indeed, the prince promised that the kingdom will fight its war against Iran inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia. He was vague about what that means, but it suggests he supports regime change in Tehran. It was one of the most virulent public attacks on Iran ever by the House of Saud. The royal family is eager for American support against Iran in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. The Saudi leaders face a more skeptical domestic audience. The new Trump administration is widely seen by the public in the Arab world as an enemy of Islam. A poll of Saudis in November showed overwhelming support for Hillary Clinton and only 6% for Trump. There will be no demonstrations against the president in a police state……….” Al Monitor
This past week the Middle East, especially the Persian Gulf region, was pushed closer to a direct sectarian war by a spoiled young Saudi prince. He may have aroused and provoked religious passions that are hard to subdue.
He is the favorite son of Saudi Arabia’s king Salman, also his Defense Minister, Crown Prince to the Crown Prince, and Heir Apparent, among many other royal positions. Not exactly an Arab Kim Jong Un, but: he shocked the Middle East this past week by threatening to wage war on Iran. In effect the Wahhabi prince has threatened to attack Iran, start an unprovoked war. Mainly because the wily Iranians have outsmarted him in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. He is inviting them to outsmart him again, which they might do if history is any guide.
What is worse, the under-educated prince also threw in a scathing sectarian attack on the Shi’a faith itself, mocking it and its followers in general. That includes millions of Arabs and other Muslims. Something Iranian leaders never do to other Muslims or people of any other “major” faith, not even to Wahhabis, at least not in public. He is almost setting the stage for a region-wide sectarian war that he seems to believe Donald Trump will support. A foolish notion: the United States should stay out of it.
This happened soon after his visit with Donald Trump at the White House, which smells fishy to many people in the region. Some independent Arab media claim it is part of a plan hatched in Washington. Iran has only threatened to wage war if attacked or threatened first. Which makes the prince’s threats odd, given that Saudi Arabia can’t even defeat poor under-armed Yemen, even with heavy American and British logistical and intelligence support.
The Iranian strategy has been defensive for almost two centuries. They don’t have access to the sophisticated Western warplanes and the Western support personnel that the Saudis have. But then they did not have access to the fancy weapons Saddam Hussein had when he attacked them in 1980 (with Saudi help), and they won that war. They have been under an American siege of several decades; they still are, regardless of the Nuclear Deal. Their deterrence depends heavily on air defense systems and, very important, on a huge arsenal of home-made advanced missiles that can retaliate by taking the war to the enemy.
That explains their attachment to missiles, not the desire to attack Europe or North America as Netanyahu and some of the Arab potentates and their lobbyists claim to the West.
The Iranian foreign minister (Zarif) answered the Saudi prince’s threat of an aggressive war by talking calmly of a peaceful resolution. But the Iranian defense minister answered with a strong warning that no Saudi city will be safe if they attack Iran. He excluded the holy cities of Mecca and Medinah.
So if the Saudis start an air attack with their expensive American toys, expect all their royal princes and princesses to be huddled in the only safe places in the kingdom: Mecca and Medinah. An enforced terrifying version of the Umrah pilgrimage.
Question is: does anyone around Donald Trump know the kind of sectarian passions this prince has stirred? Does Trump really want to get involved in this new Wahhabi religious war? Does he know what it is all about? Are those around him foolish enough?
Ich weiss nicht…..
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum