Saudi Arabia, Iran and a Middle East proxy war
Whatever the truth of the amazing US allegations against Iranian agents accused of plotting to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States on American soil, they have served to highlight the proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.
The Saudis sent troops to Bahrain, where they openly intervened with the blessing of the Gulf Cooperation Council to curb a revolt by the Shia-led majority, and have abandoned Bashar al-Assad in Syria in the hope that his departure from power would put an end to the influence of Iran in the neighbourhood.
The Saudis are also worried about Iranian influence in Iraq under Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, seen as a “stooge” of Iran by the Saudis, according to Tom Lippmann, a former Washington Post journalist who is bringing out a book on Saudi Arabia next month.
At home, the Saudis have hinted that Iran was behind clashes in its Shia-dominated oil-rich province earlier this month, where more than a dozen people were injured.
King Abdullah has been urging the US to “cut off the head of the snake” (Iran) over its nuclear programme since 2008, according to Wikileaks. In fact a Wikileaks cable says that it was the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir, who “recalled the King’s frequent exhortations to the U.S. to attack Iran and so put an end to its nuclear weapons program… He told you to cut off the head of the snake.” Jubeir was to have been the target of the assassination plot revealed by US authorities that allegedly involved the fanatical Iranian al Quds force and a Mexican drugs cartel.
The Americans have resisted military action but the calls for armed intervention will grow louder because of electoral politics in the US. The Obama administration needs to tread carefully, and to produce undisputable evidence to convince allies that it is time to isolate the Iranian regime still further. Because this proxy war in the Middle East is not just between Iran and Saudi Arabia - after all, who has been responsible for the assassinations of Iranian scientists on Iranian soil?Tagged in: Adel Al-Jubeir, Bahrain, iran, obama, Saudi, Saudi Arabian ambassador, Shia, syria
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