The Middle-East: A Potential Israeli-Sunni Arab Alliance?

Congratulations are in order for the man voted into power by a minority of the U.S. electorate as President of the United States. Donald Trump has signed a contract worth 100 billion dollars, to supply sophisticated armaments to Saudi Arabia, a dictatorial Sunni Muslim regime pledged to wipe out all Shia Muslims from the face of the earth.

Congratulations, Mister Trump, you may just have started the ball rolling towards the commencement of World War III.

Open any Western news page on the internet, tune in to any TV news station or listen to any politician, and the words ‘Iran’ and ‘terrorism’ will be linked time and time again. According to the U.S., U.K., and most European governments, Iran is the biggest ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ on the planet. So often is this repeated that it’s now become an accepted fact by most people in the West, and certainly by news and political commentators.

Iran is a nation of Shiite Muslims (90%-95%). Every terrorist attack against the West since, and including, 9/11, has been perpetrated by Sunni Muslim extremists. Why then is Iran in Western crosshairs as ‘the biggest state sponsor of terrorism on the planet’?

The answer, of course, is political. The biggest state sponsor of terrorism on the planet is Saudi Arabia. That’s common knowledge – just Google “Saudi Arabia funding terrorism” for the evidence. So why is the West licking Saudi boots while using Iran as a terrorist fall guy?

The Saudi regime is compliant to Western wishes. While oil output has fallen since the U.S. became more self-reliant, billions of petro-dollars still pour into that country, and the regime has no wish to kill the goose that lays such golden eggs and rolls them into its treasury. Provided the West doesn’t become too upset over certain human rights issues, and so long as the Saudi regime is prepared to spend some of those petro-dollars on Western products – mostly armaments – it’s a nice little earner for both sides, and one that neither wishes to see terminated.

Contrast that with the regime in Iran. Ever since the Ayatollah Khomeini took control in Iran in January 1979, after the revolution ousted America’s puppet ‘Shah’, and a load of students broke into the U.S. Embassy and took 52 embassy staff as hostages, causing acute embarrassment to the then U.S. President, Jimmy Carter, America has not looked kindly on Iran. Khomeini was held responsible by the Western media, though it’s now known that the Ayatollah was totally unaware of the student’s actions until after the event. Though once informed of the hostage situation he did little to try to defuse it.

The relationship between Iran and the U.S. has been frosty ever since, though there have been occasions when a temporary thaw has facilitated dialogue. In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks Iranians held candlelit vigils for the U.S. victims. Each country’s military cooperated to overthrow the Taliban, and in the 2001 uprising in the Afghan town of Herat, Western forces joined with Iranian Qud forces to expel the Taliban from the town.

All of this fell apart a few months later (January 2002) when George W Bush announced Iran was part of his acclaimed ‘Axis of Evil’. But, then, George was great mates with the Saudi royals…

…remember?

While Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who led Iran from 2005 – 2013, was hardly an easy guy to do business with, his successor, Hassan Rouhani, is much more of a moderate and ready to negotiate a more relaxed relationship with the West. President Obama was able to complete an agreement with Rouhani over Iran’s nuclear ambitions that still holds to this day, though it’s unlikely Mister Trump will develop any beneficial relationship with Iran, given the insults he’s showered on that nation, both on the campaign trail and since becoming the latest tenant of the White House.

Saudi Arabia has been steadily accruing weaponry from the West over many years. The regime’s hatred of Israel is well-known. But matters are changing on that front. Israel and Saudi Arabia have a common enemy – Iran. There have been recent meetings in Washington between Yakov Amidror, former senior advisor to Benjamin Netanyahu, and Prince Turki al-Feisal , a former Saudi intelligence chief.[1]

Netanyahu makes no secret of his hatred for Iran and the Saudis are using that to pursue an alliance with Israel demanding only that the Palestinian problem is resolved first. It may be a price that Israel is prepared to pay. With the Sunni Gulf states on board, a military strike against Iran would be a viable proposition.

Israel has nuclear weapons. The Saudis don’t need them, they have the U.S. as an ally. Little wonder Iran is toying with developing a nuclear capability. When Obama was in power the need seemed less urgent. Now, with Trump only this week conspiring with the Saudis and Israelis, Tehran may be growing nervous again. Trump, meanwhile, must be positively purring at the thought he might just be able to claim credit for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, when all before him have failed. The idea that he’s just being used by both sides is unlikely to enter his head.

Let’s take a moment to review the evidence for the accusation that Iran is the ‘biggest sponsor of terrorism on the planet’. It’s based solely on Iran’s support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, and the Houthis in Yemen.

Hezbollah, fighting alongside the Syrian army, have turned the tide of the civil war in that country. They support Bashar al-Assad. After all, he’s a Shiite Muslim under attack from Sunni rebels. They see themselves as freedom fighters against a Sunni insurgency that would destroy them. Terrorists? I guess it depends which side you’re on.

The Houthi rebels in Yemen? I wrote of their fight on December 9th, last year. Suffice to re-print a piece from the Washington Post (May 2016) by Prof. Thomas Juneau of the University of Ottawa:

“The Houthi’s takeover of Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, in September 2014 prompted Iran to increase its support. It now appears that small numbers — perhaps dozens — of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officers, with assistance from Lebanese Hezbollah, have set up a train and equip program for the Houthis. There have also been reports of intensifying shipping activity between Iran and Yemen.

This assistance, however, remains limited and far from sufficient to make more than a marginal difference to the balance of forces in Yemen, a country awash with weapons. There is therefore no supporting evidence to the claim that Iran has bought itself any significant measure of influence over Houthi decision-making.” [2]

“No supporting evidence.”

The bombing of innocents can never be justified, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group have certainly been guilty of that on many occasions. Israel’s brutal treatment of Palestinians over the years may well account for the following the group has in the Gaza Strip. Many see the organization as the only way of hitting back at the appalling living conditions forced on them by successive Israeli governments. Iran withdrew funding from this group for two years, but has recently renewed its financial commitment, given the ongoing Syrian situation and the plight of many Shiite Muslims, particularly in Yemen where both Houthi and Saudi atrocities and war crimes are conveniently overlooked by the West. [3]

When Western news media run stories concerning the conflicts in the Middle East they totally disregard the most important issue of all. The terms ‘Sunni’ and ‘Shia’ are never mentioned. Muslims are Muslims so far as media outlets -and Western politicians – are concerned. All they see is the politics, never the religious aspect. Yet the religious schism, the feud between Sunni Muslims and Shiites goes back over a thousand years, and given that the religion dictates the politics for both sects, to ignore the former is to bury one’s head in the sand and hope the tide’s not coming in.

While there is no doubt Iran has supported Shia militias, never once has any terrorist act been perpetrated against a Western nation on its own soil by an Iranian or Shiite terrorist. Which is more than can be said for the gross atrocities of 9/11/2001, the London bus bombings, the assassinations of the Charlie Hebdo staff and the orgy of violence perpetrated at the Bataclan Theatre and adjacent areas of Paris in 2016, the Nice attacks on Bastille Day killing 77, etc, etc, etc…and the latest act of cold-blooded murder this week in Manchester, England – all committed by Sunni extremists most likely financed from Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps it’s time we reconsidered our alliances?

We are headed for a direct confrontation between the dominant Sunni nations and the smaller Shiite populations, mainly located in Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, Azerbaijan and Yemen. As matters are today, should Saudi Arabia ally with Israel in a conflict against Iran, then the U.S., U.K., and other NATO countries would be obliged to support them. Iran has alliances with Russia, Syria, possibly China and certain South American countries.

The results could be devastating. Mister Trump’s potential glory might be short-lived.

[1] “Israel develops new ties with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states” PRI, April 19th 2017

[2] “Theresa May: The Thatcher Nightmare Returns.” Sparrow Chat, December 9th 2016

[3] “Yemen: No Accountability for War Crimes”Human Rights Watch, January 12th 2017