Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Iran, Saudi Arabia and the USA

London Sunday Times, February 1975

Who can Saudi Arabia trust?

1. The USA?

Saudi Arabia must have a fear that the USA and its allies are planning to take over Saudi's oil.

"In February of 1975 the London Sunday Times
revealed information from a leaked and classified US Department of Defense plan.

"The plan, drawn up by the Pentagon, was code named 'Dhahran Option Four' and provided for an invasion of the world's largest oil reserves, namely Saudi Arabia." - Who Really Wants to Invade Saudi Arabia, and Why?

2. Israel or Iran?

Saudi Arabia must fear both Iran and Israel.

And it must try to keep in with both Iran and Israel.

"Seeking regional allies to make a stand against Iran and the growing Shi'ite Muslim radicalization, Saudi Arabia sees Israel as a likely ally, experts here said...

"Israeli press reports suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met recently with a senior official in the Saudi government, maybe even with the Saudi king. - Fear of Iran Pushing Saudi Arabia Toward Israel, Experts Say -- 09 ...

Goldman Sachs has received a license to offer brokerage services in Saudi Arabia, the Middle East's largest equity market. - Goldman Sachs gets brokerage license in Saudi Arabia

"Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former ambassador to the United States and Britain and adviser to King Abdullah, said Israel and the Arabs could cooperate in many areas including water, agriculture, science and education." - Senior Saudi prince offers Israel peace vision

3. Keeping in with Iran

In 2006, Israel suffered a defeat in Lebanon.

Saudi Arabia will no doubt have taken note of the Israeli weakness.

There seems to be growing friendship between Shia Iran and its Sunni-dominated neighbours.

Traditionally, the Gulf states are seen as being on the side of the USA.

Martin Walker reminds us that "There are... long-standing border disputes over islands (and this means over oil and gas rights) in the Gulf. And Iran's revolutionary regime has long scorned the pro-Western sheiks as pampered heirs of outdated feudalism, their regimes ripe for revolution." Iran's new Gulf friends

But, things seem to be changing.

1. The dollar is falling and this worries the Arabs.

2. The USA has created havoc in Iraq and this worries the Arabs.

3. Palestine continues to suffer.

4. There are even those who fear that the eventual aim of the USA and Israel is to break up Saudi Arabia and other Moslem states.

During 2007, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Egypt seem to have decided to become much more friendly with Iran.

1. In early 2007, "the parliament of Bahrain, an island state that hosts America's Fifth Fleet, passed a non-binding motion banning the use of its territory for any attack on Iran." - Friendlier hands across the Gulf

2. "Gulf states are willing to set up a body to provide enriched uranium to Iran, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister is reported to have said." - BBC NEWS World Middle East Gulf states 'offer Iran uranium'

3. "Bahrain itself recently signed a deal to import Iranian natural gas." - Friendlier hands across the Gulf

4. "Dubai has become a vital lifeline for its vast neighbour (Iran). As many as 400,000 Iranian expatriates now live in the UAE, with nearly 9,000 part-Iranian-owned firms registered with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Iran is the main destination for exports from Dubai." - Friendlier hands across the Gulf

5. "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has told Gulf Arab leaders that Iran wants economic and security pacts with the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC). Mr Ahmadinejad was speaking in Qatar, where he is attending a GCC summit - the first Iranian president to do so." - BBC NEWS World Middle East Iran proposes Gulf security pact

6. "Egypt... has sent a high-level delegation to Tehran for the first time since that country's Islamic revolution in 1979." - Egypt and Saudi Arabia make new overtures to Iran

7. "Saudi Arabia ... invited Mr. Ahmedinejad to participate in the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, a first for an Iranian leader since the 1979 revolution." - Egypt and Saudi Arabia make new overtures to Iran

Some people believe that elements of the US government approve of closer ties between the Arabs and Iran.

According to Emad Gad, an expert on regional politics at the Al Ahram Center, a government-linked think tank in Cairo: "Qatar could not have invited Ahmedinejad to the GCC without an understanding with the Americans. I don't think Egypt would be sending a diplomat without some sort of green light either. All of this is part of a strategy, and I think it's an American strategy as well, to keep the freeze on the nuclear program while creating a friendlier climate." - Egypt and Saudi Arabia make new overtures to Iran

This is possible.

But, it is also possible that, secretly, many Arab leaders have given up on the Americans.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Will Bush find Gulf takers for war with Iran?

January 2008 sees a Bush visit to the Middle east.

Bush and Israel hope to force the Saudis and their allies to join them against Iran.

The Saudis and their allies would prefer peace.

According to Gerd Nonneman, Professor of Arab Gulf Studies at Exeter University ( ANALYSIS-Gulf Arabs chart delicate course between Iran, US ):

"The royal families in the Gulf are looking at the Bush visit with slightly weary resignation and perhaps a vain hope of making a case that they absolutely need the Palestinian-Israeli peace process to work ... and on the Iran issue," said Gerd Nonneman, Professor of Arab Gulf Studies at Exeter University.

"On the one hand they want a joint diplomatic strategy to avoid a nuclear-armed Iran but also they are saying we think we can engage Iran more effectively. We think we can take the sting out of this by engaging with Iran."

Saudi Arabia said on 9 January 2007 that it was determined to keep good relations with Iran despite U.S. President George W. Bush's efforts to rally Gulf Arab allies to contain Iran. (Saudi defends Iran links ahead of Bush visit)

Lydia Georgi, at Middle East Online, 7 January 2007 (Will Bush find Gulf takers for war with Iran? ), suggests that Bush will not win any support for military action against Iran.

"It might not spell the end of Iran as a military power, but merely spark Iranian reactions against Gulf states which are more than these countries can take," Kuwait's Ayed al-Manna said.

Lydia Georgi points out that the USA "rode roughshod over the Gulf states' opposition to its 2003 invasion of Iraq."

Georgi explains that the USA has strong military links to the Gulf monarchies:

1. The Gulf monarchies are major buyers of US weapons.

2. Kuwait hosts some 15,000 US troops and served as a launchpad for the Iraq invasion.

3. Bahrain is home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.

Georgi writes: "Distrust of US policy among many ordinary people in the Gulf seems to have extended even to Kuwait...

Kuwaitis are worried that Bush might exert pressure on Gulf states "to win their support for a military strike against Iran," which would "badly affect" the region's economy, Kuwaiti health ministry employee Sami al-Mani said.

Columnist Iman Kurdi wrote in the Saudi daily Arab News that while a US-Iranian showdown has so far been averted, Bush's "blood lust" means that he may yet choose to "go out (from office in a year's time) on a bang."

Will Bush find Gulf takers for war with Iran?