The Masters of the Middle East: Iran Vs Saudi Arabia
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The Masters of the Middle East: Iran Vs Saudi Arabia
The Persian Gulf, mind you is not called the Gulf of Saudi . There would be a logical reason for this ? Exploring the reality of the Shia Sunni Conflict  and the domination of the Middle East
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Shifting Mideast Sands Reveal New Alliances by Jonathan Spyer

Shifting Mideast Sands Reveal New Alliances by Jonathan Spyer | The Masters of the Middle East: Iran Vs Saudi Arabia |
A number of events in recent weeks cast light on the current intersecting lines of conflict in the Middle East. They reflect a region in flux, in which new bonds are being formed, and old ones torn asunder. But amid the confusion, a new topography is



But amid the confusion, a new topography is emerging.


This was the month in which a long-existent split in the Sunni Arab world turned into a gaping fissure. On March 5th, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates announced that they were withdrawing their ambassadors from the Emirate of Qatar.


This decision was clearly a response to Qatar's continued support and sponsorship of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. This movement is regarded as a subversive threat by the three Gulf states. They are worried by the Brotherhood's capacity for internal subversion.


Qatar, by contrast, affords generous subsidies to its tiny citizen body, and has little to fear from potential internal unrest. It continues to support the Brotherhood and to domicile key leaders of the Egyptian branch of the movement. The latter is now engaged in an insurgency against the Egyptian authorities.


Saudi patience was at an end. The removal of the ambassadors reflects this.


On March 7th, Saudi Arabia made the additional move of declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. A Saudi researcher and former general, Dr. Anwar Eshki, was quoted on the Now Lebanon website as asserting that the decision was made with particular focus on the Egyptian Brotherhood, which is involved in "terrorist" activity.


In the same week, an Egyptian court banned all activities by the Hamas organization in Egypt, and referred to the movement as a "terrorist organization."

Iran Watch's insight:

#Sunni Arabs attempt to contain #Iranian ambitions.

Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.


The shifting sands of the Mid-Eastern strategic map are all the result of the perceived withdrawal of the U.S. from its role as a regional patron. This process is still underway and it's too soon to draw any final conclusions regarding its results. But the current drawing together of Saudi Arabia and Sisi's Egypt is surely among the most significant responses to it. It is likely to form the basis for the Sunni Arabs' attempts to contain Iranian ambitions in the period ahead.

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It takes two to tango: What will it take to thaw the #Saudi - #Iran relationship in the current era? By Gareth Smyth

It takes two to tango: What will it take to thaw the #Saudi - #Iran relationship in the current era? By Gareth Smyth | The Masters of the Middle East: Iran Vs Saudi Arabia |

It Takes Two To Tango: What Will It Take To Thaw The Saudi-iran Relationship ...

Various developments, including the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the conflict in Syria, have heightened Shiite-Sunni tensions.



In the introduction to his 500-page memoir “The Iranian Nuclear Crisis” Hossein Mousavian recalls being recalled to Tehran in the early 1990s by then-President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and asked to help“mend relations with the Saudis.”



Mousavian, Iran’s ambassador to Germany at the time, was dispatched along with Rafsanjani’s son Mehdi to meet then-Crown Prince Abdullah at his summer villa in Casablanca. After a three-hour talk, Abdullah told Mousavian: “My aim in this meeting was to evaluate you and see whom Rafsanjani had chosen to negotiate with me and if I can make a deal with him or not.”


Saudi Arabia had been alarmed by the 1979 Islamic Revolution, whose leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had deemed kingship – a staple form of government in the Arabian Peninsula – incompatible with Islam. Yet Mousavian’s meeting led to a thaw in the 1990s that he calls a “new dawn in Tehran-Riyadh relations.”


Mousavian was later a negotiator in the 2003-2005 nuclear talks with the Europeans, and it is interesting that his memoir refers so prominently to his talks with Abdullah as a backdrop to the laterstruggles within Iran over nuclear policy.


For the Saudi-Iranian thaw of the 1990s had turned by 2008 into a Saudi demand that the U.S. “cut off the head of the snake,” to quote United States diplomatic cables revealed by WikiLeaks. This, Mousavian argues in the memoir, reflected a shift in Iran, both over matters nuclear and over relations with the Saudis, with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad marginalizing pragmatists such as Mousavian after 2005.

Iran Watch's insight:

By Gareth Smyth article is a must read. Clearly articulating the complexities surrounding Nuclear ambitions of both Iran and Saudi Arabia, "  be calculating that a compromise over the nuclear question that can satisfy Washington would also be accepted by Riyadh."

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​US nixes Persian Gulf summit amid divisions among allies

​US nixes Persian Gulf summit amid divisions among allies | The Masters of the Middle East: Iran Vs Saudi Arabia |

The White House has canceled plans for a meeting later this month between President Barack Obama and Persian Gulf monarchs in Saudi Arabia based on tensions among US allies in the region, sources told The Wall Street Journal.

The summit was to include leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations, which includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and Kuwait. Diplomats informed of the decision to scuttle the meeting said the cancellation symbolizes the tumultuous political climate in the Middle East.


The US has worked with the GCC on security and economic issues in recent years, but the main points of contention include Syria’s civil war and Iran’s nuclear operations.


In addition, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain withdrew ambassadors from Qatar this month based on its support for the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group.


The US scrapped the summit upon the recommendation of many of the GCC countries, officials said.

"It's unfortunate, because we thought it was important to have such a high-level dialogue," a senior Arab official told The Wall Street Journal.

The White House did not comment.

Iran Watch's insight:


The US is closely tied with the GCC countries, supplying them with billions of dollars in weapons and maintaining military bases in Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait, and Bahrain, which hosts the US Navy’s Fifth fleet.


Yet the countries are divided over US efforts to work with Iran to scale back its nuclear program. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain say Washington isn’t doing enough to force Tehran’s hand, while Oman, for instance, has played a role in mediating the nuclear talks."

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Pakistan president backs $1.5b aid from Saudi Arabia

Pakistan president backs $1.5b aid from Saudi Arabia | The Masters of the Middle East: Iran Vs Saudi Arabia |

Brushing off the opposition’s criticism of a $1.5 billion (Dh5.5 billion) aid package from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain has defended the government’s policy and expressed the hope that the assistance would help the country overcome the prevailing economic crisis.

The opposition claimed that the Nawaz Sharif government was obtaining the $1.5 billion grant from Saudi Arabia at the cost of Pakistan’s foreign policy on Syria,Dawn online reported on Wednesday.

“The aid has not been received from a smuggler but from a friendly country and it will be used for the welfare of the country and people,” Hussain was quoted as saying during a meeting with newly-elected office-bearers of National Press Club (NPC) Islamabad, who called on him at the presidency on Tuesday.

“The hue and cry is being made on the aid given by a brotherly country,” the president said.

Iran Watch's insight:

There are no Free Lunches in the Arabian Peninsula 

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Lebanon protests flare over Syria spillover: Sunni town of Arsal Vs Shia town of al-Labwa

Lebanon protests flare over Syria spillover: Sunni town of Arsal Vs Shia town of al-Labwa | The Masters of the Middle East: Iran Vs Saudi Arabia |
Demonstrators clash with the army and block roads to protest siege on Syria border town.


The road to the predominantly Sunni town of Arsal was blocked on Tuesday by residents from the neighbouring Shia town of al-Labwa.

Clashes erupted throughout the country as protesters fought with the army, angry over sand barriers erected on roads leading to the town, cutting it off from other parts of Lebanon.


In the northern province of Akkar, armed men fired on an army vehicle wounding three soldiers. In the Beirut suburb of Qasqas, five protesters were wounded when the army fired tear gas into a crowd of demonstrators.

Protesters also blocked a main road leading from the capital Beirut to the southern coastal town of Sidon before the army fired shots in the air to disperse the group.

Iran Watch's insight:

Syria’s civil war has already ignited sectarian tensions between Lebanon's Sunnis and Shia Muslims, with the loss of Yabroud likely to drag Lebanon further into the conflict.

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Annual Report on the Death Penalty in Iran- 2013

Annual Report on the Death Penalty in Iran- 2013 | The Masters of the Middle East: Iran Vs Saudi Arabia |

Iran Human Rights (IHR) launched its sixth annual report on the death penalty in Iran at the British Parliament (House of Lords) on Tuesday March 11th. The report was launched with the support of the  All–Party Parliamentary Groups on the Abolition of the Death Penalty and Human Rights,  and Together against the death penalty (Ensemble contre la peine de mort – ECPM).


The sixth annual report on the death penalty in Iran gives an assessment of how the death penalty was implemented in 2013 in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Quick findings of the report:


At least 687 people were executed in 2013 in Iran, a 16% increase compared to 2012;

388 cases (56%) were reported by the official Iranian sources,

458 executions (68%) were carried out in the months after the election of Mr. Rouhani;

59 executions were performed in public;

331 people were executed for drug-related charges, 25% lower than in 2012;

148 people who were executed were charged with murder (qisas), 8 times higher than in 2012;

Charges in 114 cases were unknown;

At least 30 women were executed in 2013;

At least 3 juvenile offenders were among those executed in 2013;

At least 299 executions in 21 different prisons were either not officially announced or were carried out secretly;

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Saudis Put Terrorist Label on Muslim Brotherhood

Saudis Put Terrorist Label on Muslim Brotherhood | The Masters of the Middle East: Iran Vs Saudi Arabia |
Saudi Arabia’s decree appeared to begin an effort to quell the Muslim Brotherhood, reflecting a divide in the Middle East after the military takeover in Egypt last year.


Saudi Arabia on Friday declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, escalating a new campaign against the group across the region with a sweeping ban that imposes lengthy prison sentences for even expressing sympathy with it.


The Saudi decree equates the Brotherhood, which has long denounced violence, with widely designated terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and the Syria-based Nusra Front. The inclusion of the Brotherhood appeared to signal the beginning of a Saudi effort to eradicate the group, demonstrating the deepening polarization that is spreading across the region after the Egyptian military’s ouster of


President Mohamed Morsi, a Brotherhood leader, last summer.

The decree was the Saudi monarchy’s latest gesture of support for attempts by the new military-backed government in Egypt to crush the Brotherhood. But it was also a pointed message to a neighboring Persian Gulf state, Qatar, which has provided refuge and support to Egyptian Brotherhood leaders since the takeover. Consistently sympathetic coverage of the Brotherhood by the Qatari-owned news network Al Jazeera has outraged Cairo and the other gulf monarchies.

Iran Watch's insight:

DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK points out "The Saudi royal family has always viewed the Muslim Brotherhood with apprehension, fearing its rival blend of Islam and politics as well as its avowed embrace of democracy. The Saudi government prefers to align itself with a more puritanical approach to Islam, Salafism, which teaches heavy deference to Muslim rulers."

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US suspends operations of Syrian Embassy missions - Arab News

US suspends operations of Syrian Embassy missions - Arab News | The Masters of the Middle East: Iran Vs Saudi Arabia |

The United States on Tuesday officially told Syria to suspend its embassy operations in Washington and ordered its diplomats to leave the country if they were not US citizens.

Washington also notified Damascus that it would no longer be able to operate its two consulates in Troy, Michigan, and Houston, Texas, after the embassy said that it would no longer be providing any consular services.

A message from the new US special envoy to Syria, Daniel Rubinstein, said Washington had “determined it is unacceptable for individuals appointed by” the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad “to conduct diplomatic or consular operations in the United States.”

The Syrian Embassy in the US capital had been operating for some time without an ambassador and with only a few low level staff who had been providing limited consular services.

Rubinstein insisted however that “despite the differences between our governments, the United States continues to maintain diplomatic relations with the state of Syria as an expression of our longstanding ties with the Syrian people, an interest that will endure long after Bashar Assad leaves power. “

A message on the embassy website Tuesday said: “Please note that the Syrian Embassy would not be able to proceed any consular services starting Tuesday. Thank you for understanding.”

Washington also said Syrian diplomats at the embassy who were not US citizens or permanent residents were no longer allowed to work in the United States and must leave the country.

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Terrorists admit: leaders from Saudi Arabia & Gulf killed in the ambush:Syria News 2/3/2014

Sidnaiya citizens march in support of Syrian Arab army - Premier al-Halqi renews call for gunmen to lay down arms - Health Ministry launches fourth nation...
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Sunni-Shia split the Mideast's new great divide

Sunni-Shia split the Mideast's new great divide | The Masters of the Middle East: Iran Vs Saudi Arabia |

 By: Olivia Ward Foreign Affairs Reporter


Half of believers in the Middle East and North Africa say religious conflict is a major problem for their countries. How did it come to this? Some answers lie in the distant beginnings of Islam.


In the not-so-distant past, the doomsday scenario was a cataclysmic “clash of civilizations” between Muslims and the secular West.

But the Arab Spring has brought a seismic shift in the sectarian landscape. With civil war and political chaos rippling through the region, the deadly divide now runs through the Muslim world itself.

In Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and Iraq, Sunni and Shia Muslims are struggling for power while religious intolerance rises violently in Egypt.


Meanwhile, the Sunni Gulf States are fighting proxy battles with Shia Iran for supremacy in the region, with Syria as ground zero.


“Violence and brutality have been targeted at particular sects,” says Geneive Abdo, a fellow of the Stimson Center and author of a recent study, The New Sectarianism. “The Syrian war has revived a centuries-old conflict.”


In the Middle East and even tranquil Belgium, mosques have been attacked and bombed in acts of sectarian vengeance between Muslims. Worshipers have been wounded and killed. Rival sects revile each other’s faiths and arm militias for escalating battle.


Now, some 50 per cent of believers in the Middle East and North Africa say religious conflict is a major problem for their countries, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey of the world’s Muslims.


How did it come to this?

Colton and Kenneth's curator insight, April 8, 2015 1:43 PM

Africa & Religion

This relates to religion in Africa because it talks of conflicts caused by religion in the middle east and north Africa. 50% of believers think that these disputes are major problems within their countries. Many of then occur because a religion wants a supremacy over an area or region. Hopefully these end soon.

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#Shia mosque attacked by police in #Bahrain

#Shia mosque attacked by police in #Bahrain | The Masters of the Middle East: Iran Vs Saudi Arabia |

Regime forces in Bahrain have attacked a Shia mosque in a village near the capital, Manama, as the ruling Al-Khalifa continues its attempts to silence the opposition, Press TV reports.

Bahraini forces fired tear gas at people attending a funeral ceremony inside a mosque in the village of Sanabis.

It was not immediately clear why security forces stormed the mosque.

Bahrain’s main opposition party al-Wefaq strongly condemned the incident, saying this is the second such attack this month.

In February, the regime forces also attacked a mosque in the village of Sa’ar near Manama.

Dozens of mosques have been demolished in Bahrain since the start of anti-monarchy rallies in 2011.

Almost daily protests have been held against the Al Khalifa regime since February 2011, when thousands of pro-democracy protesters took to the streets, calling for the royal family to leave power.

On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates invaded the country to assist the Bahraini government in its crackdown on peaceful protesters.

According to local sources, scores of people have been killed and hundreds arrested since the start of the uprising.

Last month, Amnesty International censured Bahrain’s “relentless repression” of anti-regime protesters, saying the security forces “repeatedly” use “excessive force to quash anti-government protests.”

On February 14, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also called on Manama to respect its “international human rights obligations” in dealing with peaceful protests in the country.

Iran Watch's insight:

How long before #Pakistan sends its troops to #Bahrain and #Syria   

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February 2014 Breaking News Why Saudi Arabia and Israel Have Teamed Up Against Iran 480p

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Pak-Saudi Relations Getting Stronger

Pak-Saudi Relations Getting Stronger | The Masters of the Middle East: Iran Vs Saudi Arabia |

The government has started making headway to rein in all the crisis including gas and electricity due to its viable policies. The Government is keen the poorest of poor and women are able to realize their dreams. The fruits of such better policies would start trickling down soon. The opposition is making hue and cry over the financial aid provided by the Saudi Arabia. There is also a hue and cry orchestrated by media about the Government not reporting to the nation about what is to be returned against that financial aid.

Nobody has any proof that Government is ready to give geographical dividend to Saudi Arabia or it is going to take a U-turn on Syria. All of these are just typical speculations and cynical approach by the opposition parties and media. But I must say we should appreciate if something occur in Pakistan favor instead of start keep criticizing. We should be positive and optimistic instead of behaving like a thankless nation. Saudi Arabia may be seeking security assistance from Pakistan for domestic rather than external threats.  Pakistani troops, if sent as usual, could be deployed in religious sites in the Holy cities of Mecca and Medina. There is nothing new in this financial assistance as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia has had a deep strategic military relationship for decades. - See more at:

Iran Watch's insight:

"Love" ? : "Whether due to the Saudi Arabia’s genuine love towards Pakistan and its people,"

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Bahrain says it wants to mend fences with Iran

Bahrain says it wants to mend fences with Iran | The Masters of the Middle East: Iran Vs Saudi Arabia |
Bahrain said on Thursday that it expected Pakistan to have a moderating effect on Muslim countries in the region.


We look forward to Pakistan having influence of moderation and peace,” Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa said at a press conference at the conclusion of the three-day visit of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.


During the king’s visit, Bahrain raised the issue of its troubled ties with Iran, accusing it of interference in the kingdom, which recently witnessed an uprising against the monarchy.


Pakistan helped it in putting down the revolt by allowing Bahrain to recruit retired security personnel for its security forces.


A joint communique issued at the conclusion of the visit said the two sides had exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual interest and stressed the importance of peaceful resolution of all issues, both regional and extra-regional, through dialogue.


Though the Bahraini foreign minister denied having sought Pakistani support against Iran or asking Islamabad for mediation, his statement at the media conference hinted at Manama’s desire for outside help in fixing problems with Tehran.

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Sunnis against Shias: a strategic absurdity

Sunnis against Shias: a strategic absurdity | The Masters of the Middle East: Iran Vs Saudi Arabia |
Editorial: Iran and Saudi Arabia are both bent on unrealistic plans for dominance in the Middle East or, at the very least, on denying the dominance of the other


The Middle East is in the grip of a war neither side can win. The conflict in the region between Sunnis and Shias, from Lebanon to Iraq, is a strategic absurdity, which makes the death toll even more tragic than it would otherwise be.


If anything can be said for certain about those who died in the recent explosions in Beirut, in last week's fighting in Fallujah and Ramadi, or in the latest bombing raids on Aleppo, it is that their deaths will serve no rational purpose.


The minds of the men on the ground, intimately involved in this carnage, are muddled by fear, prejudice, passion, and the desire for revenge – excuses of sorts. But what of those who preside over this bloodshed from distant capitals?


No reference here to Washington: while America bears much responsibility for triggering Sunni-Shia rivalry by its invasion of Iraq, and continues to try to influence the contest, it is not the driver of it.

That distinction belongs to Iran and Saudi Arabia, both bent on unrealistic plans for dominance in the region or, at the very least, on denying the dominance of the other.


For its part, Iran must know, or should know, that the Sunni Arab world cannot be transformed into a series of satrapies subservient to Tehran.

Iran Watch's insight:

Slightly dated [ Sunday 5 January], this editorial but very relevant. The editorial concludes by questioning

" How does it avoid empowering Sunni extremists hostile to the Saudi state? And how does it imagine it will bring Tehran low?

Iran will in time learn the natural limits of its possible influence over the Arab world. But it is a giant compared to Saudi Arabia, which has less than half its population, little agricultural land, even less water, and only the advantage of rather more oil. Surely in these two capitals there are some with enough wisdom to realise the senselessness of what they are doing?"

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US delivers Hellfire missiles, ammunition to Iraq- counter ISIL

US delivers Hellfire missiles, ammunition to Iraq- counter ISIL | The Masters of the Middle East: Iran Vs Saudi Arabia |
BAGHDAD: The United States delivered 100 Hellfire missiles, along with assault rifles and ammunition to Iraq as part of its anti-terrorism assistance to the country, the US embassy to Iraq said on


In a statement, it said the delivery was made earlier this month in order to help bolster Iraq forces fighting a breakaway Al-Qaeda group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

“It is essential that Iraqi Security Forces are equipped with modern and effective weaponry given the serious threat... the ISIL now poses to Iraq and the region,” said the statement, which also promised to send more weapons to Iraq in the coming weeks.

It added that since mid-January, Iraqi security forces had received more than eleven million rounds of ammunition, as well as thousands of machine guns, sniper rifles, assault rifles, and grenades.

The Iraqi warplanes frequently fire Hellfire missiles at militant positions in the embattled western Anbar province.

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Will the GCC survive Qatar-Saudi rivalry?

Will the GCC survive Qatar-Saudi rivalry? | The Masters of the Middle East: Iran Vs Saudi Arabia |
Diplomatic spat could weaken or even unravel six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, analysts said.


The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) had not fully recovered from last November's disagreement between Saudi Arabia and Oman when it was hit by a deeper rift involving Qatar.


The latest diplomatic spat pits Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain against Qatar over its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, a group labeled a "terrorist organisation" by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.


On March 5, the trio announced the withdrawal of their ambassadors from Qatar, accusing it of breaching the organisation's security agreement and violating its principles of "unified destiny", according to a joint statement issued by the official Saudi news agency.


They also accused Qatar of failing to commit to promises it had made to not interfere in the internal affairs of its fellow GCC states, not to support organisations and individuals jeopardising their security and stability, and not to harbour "hostile media", referring to Qatar-based Al Jazeera Media Network.


On Tuesday, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal was quoted as saying that the diplomatic crisis will persist "as long as Doha does not revise its policy".


"This is by far the biggest crisis we've encountered as a council," said a Kuwaiti official who asked not to be named.


Strained ties between Saudi Arabia and Qatar date back to 1992 when border clashes left two dead, and in 2002, the kingdom withdrew its ambassador to Doha over content aired on Al Jazeera. It took several years for relations to improve, but the air never fully cleared.

Iran Watch's insight:

"Qatar is the world's biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, and has strong trade ties with the Far East and the US. These commercial links can buffer much of the damage potentially caused by such a blockade, but Qatar's massive dependence on food from Saudi Arabia and the UAE leaves it vulnerable."

Seems that Qatar's 33-year-old emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani is standing up to Saudi pressure expertly. We expect more coverage by Al Jazeera on this in future. 

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Faith leaders on agreement with Shia Ayatollah on anti-trafficking

Faith leaders on agreement with Shia Ayatollah on anti-trafficking | The Masters of the Middle East: Iran Vs Saudi Arabia |

Andrew Forrest, founder of Walk Free, told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday that Ayatollah Sistani, leader of the Shia Muslim faith, had signed up to a historic anti-trafficking initiative.

Click above to watch. (Amanpour's full interview will be online tomorrow.)

Iran Watch's insight:

Amanpour's full interview will be online tomorrow.

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The Empire's New Middle East Map: ethnic cleansing and petroleum geography

The Empire's New Middle East Map: ethnic cleansing and petroleum geography | The Masters of the Middle East: Iran Vs Saudi Arabia |

In June 2006, Armed Forces Journal published this map from Ralph Peters, a prominent pro-war strategist. It shows the method to the madness -- creating ethnic tension and civil war in order to redraw the boundaries. Most of the existing borders were imposed by Britain and France after World War I - and conveniently (for the US and Europe) divide most of the Arabs from most of the oil. Note that their new "Arab Shia State" would contain much of the oil, separating governments in Riyadh, Baghdad and Tehran from what is currently the main source of their national wealth.
Blood borders
How a better Middle East would look
By Ralph Peters
Armed Forces Journal - June 2006

note: the online version of this article no longer has a link to these maps

Iran Watch's insight:

using religious and ethnic divisions to split Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia to control their oil rich provinces

related pages:

the Biden Cheney partition plan for IraqIraqi Oil: America's new Strategic Petroleum ReserveIranian oil is mostly in Arab minority areaSaudi Arabian oil is mostly in Shia minority area
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Syria, Iran and the Balance of Power in the Middle East - Originally By: STRATFOR

Syria, Iran and the Balance of Power in the Middle East - Originally By: STRATFOR | The Masters of the Middle East: Iran Vs Saudi Arabia |

Dated Nov 22, 2011. But relevant none the less:


U.S. troops are in the process of completing their withdrawal from Iraq by the end-of-2011 deadline. We are now moving toward a reckoning with the consequences. The reckoning concerns the potential for a massive shift in the balance of power in the region, with Iran moving from a fairly marginal power to potentially a dominant power. As the process unfolds, the United States and Israel are making countermoves. We have discussed all of this extensively. Questions remain whether these countermoves will stabilize the region and whether or how far Iran will go in its response.


ran has been preparing for the U.S. withdrawal. While it is unreasonable simply to say that Iran will dominate Iraq, it is fair to say Tehran will have tremendous influence in Baghdad to the point of being able to block Iraqi initiatives Iran opposes. This influence will increase as the U.S. withdrawal concludes and it becomes clear there will be no sudden reversal in the withdrawal policy. Iraqi politicians’ calculus must account for the nearness of Iranian power and the increasing distance and irrelevance of American power.

Resisting Iran under these conditions likely would prove ineffective and dangerous. Some, like the Kurds, believe they have guarantees from the Americans and that substantial investment in Kurdish oil by American companies means those commitments will be honored. A look at the map, however, shows how difficult it would be for the United States to do so. The Baghdad regime has arrested Sunni leaders while the Shia, not all of whom are pro-Iranian by any means, know the price of overenthusiastic resistance.

Syria and Iran

The situation in Syria complicates all of this. The minority Alawite sect has dominated the Syrian government since 1970, when the current president’s father — who headed the Syrian air force — staged a coup. The Alawites are a heterodox Muslim sect related to a Shiite offshoot and make up about 7 percent of the country’s population, which is mostly Sunni. The new Alawite government was Nasserite in nature, meaning it was secular, socialist and built around the military. When Islam rose as a political force in the Arab world, the Syrians — alienated from the Sadat regime in Egypt — saw Iran as a bulwark. The Iranian Islamist regime gave the Syrian secular regime immunity against Shiite fundamentalists in Lebanon. The Iranians also gave Syria support in its external adventures in Lebanon, and more important, in its suppression of Syria’s Sunni majority.

Syria and Iran were particularly aligned in Lebanon. In the early 1980s, after the Khomeini revolution, the Iranians sought to increase their influence in the Islamic world by supporting radical Shiite forces. Hezbollah was one of these. Syria had invaded Lebanon in 1975 on behalf of the Christians and opposed the Palestine Liberation Organization, to give you a sense of the complexity. Syria regarded Lebanon as historically part of Syria, and sought to assert its influence over it. Via Iran, Hezbollah became an instrument of Syrian power in Lebanon.

Iran and Syria, therefore, entered a long-term if not altogether stable alliance that has lasted to this day. In the current unrest in Syria, the Saudis and Turks in addition to the Americans all have been hostile to the regime of President Bashar al Assad. Iran is the one country that on the whole has remained supportive of the current Syrian government.

There is good reason for this. Prior to the uprising, the precise relationship between Syria and Iran was variable. Syria was able to act autonomously in its dealings with Iran and Iran’s proxies in Lebanon. While an important backer of groups like Hezbollah, the al Assad regime in many ways checked Hezbollah’s power in Lebanon, with the Syrians playing the dominant role there. The Syrian uprising has put the al Assad regime on the defensive, however, making it more interested in a firm, stable relationship with Iran. Damascus finds itself isolated in the Sunni world, with Turkey and the Arab League against it. Iran — and intriguingly, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — have constituted al Assad’s exterior support.

Thus far al Assad has resisted his enemies. Though some mid- to low-ranking Sunnis have defected, his military remains largely intact; this is because the Alawites control key units. Events in Libya drove home to an embattled Syrian leadership — and even to some of its adversaries within the military — the consequences of losing. The military has held together, and an unarmed or poorly armed populace, no matter how large, cannot defeat an intact military force. The key for those who would see al Assad fall is to divide the military.

If al Assad survives — and at the moment, wishful thinking by outsiders aside, he is surviving — Iran will be the big winner. If Iraq falls under substantial Iranian influence, and the al Assad regime — isolated from most countries but supported by Tehran — survives in Syria, then Iran could emerge with a sphere of influence stretching from western Afghanistan to the Mediterranean (the latter via Hezbollah). Achieving this would not require deploying Iranian conventional forces — al Assad’s survival alone would suffice. 





Iran Watch's curator insight, March 18, 2014 1:06 PM

 George Friedman Concludes:


"But it is not the last move. To put Iran back into its box, something must be done about the Iraqi political situation. Given the U.S. withdrawal, Washington has little influence there. All of the relationships the United States built were predicated on American power protecting the relationships. With the Americans gone, the foundation of those relationships dissolves. And even with Syria, the balance of power is shifting.

The United States has three choices. Accept the evolution and try to live with what emerges. Attempt to make a deal with Iran — a very painful and costly one. Or go to war. The first assumes Washington can live with what emerges. The second depends on whether Iran is interested in dealing with the United States. The third depends on having enough power to wage a war and to absorb Iran’s retaliatory strikes, particularly in the Strait of Hormuz. All are dubious, so toppling al Assad is critical. It changes the game and the momentum. But even that is enormously difficult and laden with risks.

We are now in the final act of Iraq, and it is even more painful than imagined. Laying this alongside the European crisis makes the idea of a systemic crisis in the global system very real."