Tag Archive | "Saudi Arabia-Iran"

Russia ready to mediate talks between Saudi Arabia & Iran


 NOVANEWS
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RT 

Russia is ready and willing to mediate in establishing relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov has stated.

“We tried several times and offered [to help Iran and Saudi Arabia sit down at the negotiating table], but we do not impose our intermediary role,” Bogdanov told reporters.

“But we have always told our partners in both Saudi Arabia and Iran that we are ready to provide both a platform for contacts and friendly services.”

Bogdanov added that Moscow has always highlighted the need to resolve the issues between the two countries.

“Many problems would have been much easier to resolve had there been mutual understanding and trust between Tehran and Riyadh,” Bogdanov said.

He added that the situation in the entire region, especially regarding antiterrorism efforts, depends on mutual understanding and cooperation between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Bogdanov stressed that Russia always tells Saudi Arabia and Iran that it is ready to report something from one side to another or to organize their bilateral contacts. “These proposals remain on the table both with our Saudi and Iranian partners,” he said.

In May, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman accused Saudi Arabia of supporting terrorism and seeking confrontational policies in the region. He was responding to comments by the Saudi deputy crown prince, who earlier ruled out dialogue with Tehran. Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud, the kingdom’s defense minister, said it was impossible to mend relations between his country and Iran due to Tehran’s “extremist ideology” and ambitions to “control the Islamic world.”

Diplomatic ties between the two countries were severed in 2016 after Iranian protesters attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran, following the execution of prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister responded by accusing Iran of setting up “terrorist cells” inside the kingdom. Iran then issued a warning that “divine vengeance” would come to Saudi Arabia as a punishment for Nimr’s execution as well as for Riyadh’s bombings in Yemen and support for the Bahraini government.

In February of this year, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, while on a visit to Saudi ally Kuwait, said that Tehran would like to restore relations and improve ties with all its Gulf Arab neighbors.

One area where Moscow and Riyadh disagree is Iran’s involvement in Syria.

Riyadh, a main backer of the Syrian opposition, is against the actions of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Hezbollah group in Syria. According to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir, these groups influence the situations in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, the Gulf countries, and Yemen, and have no place in Syria or any other part of the world. Riyadh’s primary objective has been to put an end to Iran’s involvement in the region.

Meanwhile, Russia has argued that Iran and Hezbollah are operating in Syria at the official request of President Bashar Assad.

“We don’t see Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. We believe that both of them [Iran and Hezbollah] – like Russia’s air forces – came to Syria following the request of the legitimate government,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed in April.

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Saudi Zio-Wahhabi regime wades into Shi’ite politics in Iraq


NOVANEWS
Saudi Arabia wades into Shi’ite politics in Iraq
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By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline 

The dramatic appearance of the Iraqi Shi’ite firebrand politician Muqtada Al-Sadr in Jeddah on Sunday and his meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman opens an exciting page in the Saudi-Iranian regional rivalries. The theatre is shifting to Iraq.

Briefly, what is unfolding is a determined Saudi attempt to reset the power calculus in post-ISIS Iraq by moulding a new political alignment that principally aims at undermining the pre-eminent influence that Iran has enjoyed over its neighbour in the past decade or so following the Shi’ite empowerment in the downstream of the US invasion of 2003.

Iran’s main platform on the Iraqi political landscape has been the umbrella Shi’ite coalition known as the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq (ISCI), which Tehran had created as far back as 1982, originally as a Shi’ite resistance movement against Saddam Hussein and most recently since the middle of the last decade following Saddam’s overthrow as a united front to contest the democratic elections in Iraq with an agenda to preserve the Shi’ite leadership of the government.

To cut a long story short, ISCI is unravelling due to latent rivalries between various constituent groups. (Shi’ite politics has been traditionally very fractious, including in Iran.) Now, the split is also on account of a strong undercurrent of resentment over Iran’s dominance over Iraqi politics. (For the benefit of the uninitiated, again, the potency of Iraqi nationalism – a legacy of the Saddam era, paradoxically – subsuming the ethnic and sectarian divides in the country should never be underestimated.)

Importantly, the new generation of the powerful Hakim family led by Ammar Al-Hakim has moved out of the ISCI and has shifted allegiance from Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei to Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani. Equally, Muqtada al-Sadr who has stepped out of Iran’s orbit has assumed a nationalistic, non-sectarian platform in the recent years. Again, within the ruling Islamic Dawa Party, which is the main constituent of the ISCI, there is an internal power struggle between the incumbent PM Haidar Al-Abadi and the former PM Nouri al-Maliki. (Currently, Maliki is a favourite of Iran; interestingly, Al-Abadi recently visited Saudi Arabia during which an announcement was made that the two countries have formed a ‘coordination council’ to bolster strategic relations aimed at healing troubled ties with ‘other Arab states’.)

Enter Saudi Arabia. Quite obviously, Saudis see a window of opportunity to go for Iran’s jugular veins by breaking up the ISCI irretrievably and instead propping up a new composite non-sectarian coalition involving the Shi’ite factions who resent Iran’s hegemony. No doubt, it is an audacious attempt to bring together – you’ve guessed it – Muqtada al-Sadr, Ammar Al-Hakim and Al-Abadi – on the same page.

The Crown Prince MBS is the mastermind behind this audacious Saudi move to manipulate the Shi’ite politics in Iraq. Arguably, the Saudi game plan has some positive streaks in it insofar as it envisages a non-sectarian realignment in Iraqi politics by encouraging a regrouping of the Shi’ite factions that give primacy to Iraqi nationalism over the identity politics they pursued up until recently. In turn, MBS would probably persuade these Shi’ite factions to work with the Iraqi Sunni factions and the Kurds. (By the way, Saudis recently opened a consulate in Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan in northern Iraq.)

Cynics would say that Saudis are having a devious agenda to: a) break up Shi’ite unity in Iraq; b) empower the Sunni groups as a ruling elite; and, c) create a schism between ‘Arab Shias’ and ‘Persian Shias’. The jury is out. Time only will tell how these shenanigans play out. To be sure, MBS’s initiative to manipulate Iraqi politics must be enjoying the support of the US and Israel, since it ultimately aims at isolating Iran and mitigates to an extent Iran’s spectacular ‘victory’ in the Syrian conflict.

Will Iran throw in the towel and walk away? Certainly not. Iran’s trump card is the battle-hardened Shi’ite militia known as the Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi, which is estimated to number over 120000 and is a Hezbollah-like army that is disciplined, fired up ideologically, and weaned in the politics of ‘resistance’. By the way, Qassem Soleimani, the charismatic commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, was quoted as saying last week: “Daesh (ISIS) was stopped by the entry of Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi into the Iraqi army. The Iraqi army was transformed into a Hezbollah army.”

Now, that is a statement of fact. And, the ground reality is that today, in the chaotic war conditions in Iraq, power ultimately flows through the barrel of the gun. Stalin would have asked MBS as to how many divisions Al-Haikm, Al-Sadr and Al-Abadi together have under their command? Will the number come to even one half of the strength of Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi, the Iraqi Hezbollah, which Iran trained and equipped? Unlikely. Could they have taken on the ISIS and defeated it? No way.

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