Update on Middle East situation: Saudi Arabia and Pakistan veiledly threaten Iran with nukes
As always developments in the Middle East are interesting to say the least. In the aftermath of Nimr al-Nimr’s execution tensions are still high between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and by extension between the Sunni and Shiite branches of Islam.
In Bahrain there have been ongoing protests condemning al-Nimr’s execution and calling for the release of the imprisoned Shiite cleric Sheikh Ali Salman. Some of these protests have involved clashes between protestors and Bahraini police. A teenager, Ahmad al-Arab has been sentenced to 130 years in prison for protesting against the Bahraini government. As well a Shiite religious building was riddled by gunfire in the village of Wadyan.
In Yemen the Iranians have accused the Saudi warplanes of deliberating bombing their embassy in Sanaa, which could be interpreted as a proportionate act of revenge by the Saudis in response to the torching of their embassy in Tehran. Of course the Saudis have denied that their jets bombed the Iranian embassy.
In Iraq ISIL launched a series of deadly attacks against Shiite targets in Baghdad and Muqdadiya killing over 50. It is difficult to ascertain ISIL’s motives for these attacks, as they were either conducted in response to their loss of Ramadi or to inflame sectarian strife between Shiites and Sunni within Iraq. If the latter is true, then ISIL was successful as in response to their attacks, Shiite militia groups bombed nine mosques in Diyala province and murdered the parents of a Sunni imam.
The foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, Adel al-Jubeir has accused Iran of interfering “in the affairs of the (region’s) states and instigation of sectarian strife and shaking its security and stability.” With this in mind, four Iranians will stand trial in Saudi Arabia on charges of threatening the nation’s security, while in Kuwait two men, an Iranian and Kuwaiti have been sentenced to death for spying for Iran and Hezbollah.
Just a few hours before President Obama was to give his State of the Union address, two American vessels along with 10 sailors were captured by Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces for allegedly straying into Iranian territorial waters. Fortunately the sailors were released without incident, except for the humiliation of American prestige in the Middle East. While John Kerry was very thankful, even laudatory, for the Iranian release of the sailors, an Iranian military commander said the incident illustrated the “vulnerabilities” of US forces and the Ayatollah Khamenei praised the capture of the US sailors.
On January 16, a few days after the release of the American sailors, Iran was deemed to have successfully complied with the JCPOA resulting in the lifting of sanctions. What is interesting to me is that the day before the lifting of the sanctions an Iran backed Iraqi Shiite militia kidnapped three Americans in Baghdad. It seems like Iran is again thumbing their nose at America, in spite of the recently concluded deal.
Another interesting development, although one that is unconfirmed, is the health of the King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. According to PressTV the King is suffering from either Alzheimer’s or dementia and has lost “has lost awareness of his surroundings.” As a consequence King Salmon may soon abdicate the throne to his son, prince Mohammad bin Nayef. It is difficult to ascertain whether these reports are just Iranian misinformation but either way keep watch for future developments on this front.
With all that has happened in the Middle East, probably the most serious developments involved comments made by Saudi and Pakistani officials. The Chief of the Pakistani army, General Raheel Sharif has stated his country would respond to any Iranian threat to Saudi Arabia and would “wipe Iran off the map.” How would Pakistani wipe Iran off the map? Probably with the use of their nuclear weapons.
Furthermore the Saudi ambassador to England has stated that “all options are on the table” when it comes to dealing with Iran. Undeniably “all options” include either the acquisition of nuclear weapons from Pakistan or their development by Saudi Arabia itself for use against Iran if the Saudis deem it necessary.
So the deal with Iran, instead of promoting stability in the region, as Obama and company said it would, seems to be destabilizing the region as Sunni Arab countries are considering arming themselves with nuclear weapons to counter an emboldened and economically strengthened Iran, which could still obtain or develop nuclear weapons.
But with all that is occuring in the Middle East, do not worry because Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said that his country will not allow war to break out with Iran. So don’t worry everything is under control. For some reason I lack confidence in Prince Salman’s reassurances.