Life is Belief & Struggle - Ahmed Shawqi

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Real Game of Thrones

Everyone is hating on the Saudis. Even the Toronto Star gets its hate on. Of course, I was way ahead of the Saudi Haters and at least my sense of morality is not hanging precariously from a sliding scale on in the Hate of the Month club. TheToronto Star hits all the latest progressive talking points on Saudi hate.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and his regime may posture as steely guardians of Mideast stability, after their mass execution of “inciters of violence and terrorism.” But sheer fear, not considered resolve, is the driving force behind a state bloodbath that has fanned tension across the region.

Salman has confounded allies including the United States and Canada, infuriated Iran and dampened prospects for settling wars in Syria and Yemen with his brutal recklessness. The execution of 43 mostly Saudi Sunni jihadists and four Shias — including the popular cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr — has also cast a shadow over efforts to combat Islamic State and other terror groups.

Yet it is Saudi weakness not strength that has brought the Mideast to this ugly juncture. A regime that was truly secure wouldn’t have to resort to such barbarity, the largest mass execution in decades.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has rightly joined the international chorus decrying the executions, the tensions they have provoked and the problems they have caused for allies. Salman, who was installed this past year, is sending an age-old message that there’s a new sheriff in town, one who won’t brook any trouble. 

The executions, by beheading and shooting, were timed to rally the House of Saud’s ultraconservative base behind the government, to crush domestic Sunni support for militant groups after a wave of bombings and shootings that have shaken the kingdom, and to warn the country’s unhappy Shia minority not to get out of line.
The regime has reason to fear for its legitimacy.

There is just so much wrong with this editorial that it’s easy to get lost. And if capital punishment is now the progressive yardstick of who we should never ally ourselves with, well there goes the Dauphin’s hopes of a free trade deal with China - also known as the World’s No.#1 executioner.

The talking heads have suddenly woke up to the fact there is a war going on in the Middle East, that no one in the West wanted to name or think about (mostly because it’s a war without Jews directly involved), and we are  smack dab in the middle of it. 

This is not a ‘good guy’ vs bad guy’ kind of conflict.  More like  ‘baddie vs other baddie’ instead.  As Henry Kissinger once remarked about the Iran-Iraq war; isn’t it a shame they both can’t lose?
Of course, it’s being waged by some traditional western allies against Iranian hegemony, and it’s been going on directly and indirectly since the Iranian Revolution of the Seventies, most often through a series of proxies.

Let me explain something to all the new armchair experts on the Sunni-Shiite religious divide. The Iranians came to aid of the ‘Shias’ in the Lebanese civil war, mostly by dividing the secular Amal movement. The religious Shias split off from their secular brethren and formed Hezbollah. Hezbollah grew, prospered and only exists only due to Iranian patronage. During the Israeli-Lebanese war in 2006 there was a popular joke making the rounds in Lebanon and it went like this; Hezbollah is Lebanon and the rest of us are just tourists.

No one ever asks themselves how it came to be that Syria, a country with a large Sunni majority, came to be aligned with the Iranians. No doubt someone will bore you with the explanation that the Alwaite minority rules over the confessional as in a ‘fair balancing of power’ but the truth is the Alawites are sect of Shia Islam; ergo, this is why Iran has always supported the Assad regime ‘cause they go with their own – every time. And Syria is crucial to maintaining Iranian hegemony.  

I know most Westerners do not care about Yemen per say, let alone Middle East geography, but it is really is in everyone’s interest to pay attention. There is a reason the Saudi executions came now, and the act was committed from a place of strength and designed to send a big FU message to Mad Mullahs of Iran. The Saudis have been biding their time with these prisoners, some of them for years, and the Saudis would not have executed these men unless they were operating from a position of strength. On the day of the execution, the Saudis also announced the UN brokered ceasefire was over in Yemen. 
Yemen's descent into its current hell would never have happened, if the Mullahs were not busy trying to create another area of influence in the heart of the Sunni Gulf states. The Iranians were threatening the bread and butter of the Gulf States by controlling the Hanish Islands.  What makes these little islands important is their strategic location. Control those islands and you control the entrance/exit from the Red Sea into the Gulf of Arden, and if you control the entrance and exit from the Red Sea; you then control a not so insignificant portion of world trade. 
On December 10th,  the Saudi Coalition took back the Hanish Islands from their Iranian proxies – the Houthis of Yemen - another Shia sect. Not only were the Hanish Islands used as supply depot by the Iranians to keep the Houthi minority armed and dangerous; the Iranians, by holding these tiny islands, could control trade coming through the Suez Canal down the Red Sea or coming in from the Gulf of Arden. 

Once the Islands were back in Saudi command, everything else has been falling into place for the Saudis and their allies. The Houthi have no resupply route and should start to run out of weapons within the next few months.  This is why now there is currently a major escalation by the Saudi Coalition forces in Yemen. 

What you really have to ask yourself is why suddenly so many Westerners are suddenly upset that the Mullahs are getting their comeuppance...and read the comment section on the Al Jazeera site. It’s pure gold.

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