By Track Perisa

April 19, 2018

Iran has been facing an unprecedented challenge to its Safawi theocracy since the reformist Saudi Prince Mohammad Bin Salman has become the Crown Prince and the future Saudi king. The Iranian regime sees the prince a formidable enemy to its “axis of resistance” in the Greater Middle East and the Yemen war. This should not be a surprise since the prince is bent on uprooting both Iran’s Shi’i theocracy and all its Arab-based like the Houthis and the Lebanese Hezbollah.

In “The Atlantic”’s article dated April 2,  the  Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salam, nickname MBS,  is reported to have divided the Middle East into two warring camps:  what he called the “triangle of evil,” consisting of Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Sunni terror groups; and an alliance of self-described moderate states that includes Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman.

About the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Prince Bin Salman said, “I believe the Iranian supreme leader makes Hitler look good. Hitler didn’t do what the supreme leader is trying to do. Hitler tried to conquer Europe. … The supreme leader is trying to conquer the world.”

The young prince termed the Iran nuclear deal as a “flawed agreement”  a term also used by US President Trump to describe the controversial deal between Iran and 5+1 powers including the US under Obama administration.

Prince Bin Salman in February 2018 said the Saudi-led Arab League of 22 states based in Cairo and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation  (OIC) had begun ousting Iran’s theocracy from their midst. While nationalist Shia in Arab states accuse Iran of racism and seeking to implement Persian imperialism.

The main battle-zone in the Iranian war against Arab nationalists is Syria, where atrocities are committed by Bashar Assad’s regime guided by Iran and Russia. The sectarian Sunni-Shi’i war erupted when Iran’s Shi’i theocracy with a Safawi ideology intervened on Assad’s side. The civil peaceful protests that had started on March 15, 2011 turned into a bloody armed conflict after the Assad regime started to target the protesters and opponents. Since then, the Alawite minority in Syria, which Assad came from, has become the remnants of the 16th-century Persian empire based on Safawism.

The Iranians and their proxies have deeply involved the sectarian war in Syria. Recently, top Iranian officers of the ruling Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) have been killed in a suspected Israeli attack that targeted a vital air-field between Hums and Palmyra.

Boosted by Putin, the Iran-guided Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an Alawite adopting Safawism, is trying to rule what is left of his country with an iron fist. Meanwhile, Iran is working on its programme to control and Shi’itise the Arab world.

The Assad regime, a ruthless dictatorship begun in 1970 by Syrian Air Force Commander Gen Hafez al-Assad who took power in Damascus by a military coup d’état; he died in June 2000 and was immediately succeeded by his son Bashar. Assad forces on March 31 began another military offensive in the Eastern Ghouta region which has resulted in another carnage of people having rebelled against his rule. The Assad attackers left most of Douma in rubble. At least 90 persons were killed and Assad forces there used chemical weapons.

On February 24, artillery fire and air-strikes on Douma by Russian and Assad forces and Iran’s IRGC commandos would not let helpers see and count the casualties. That was one of the bloodiest assaults in Syria’s seven-year war, as a UNSC resolution had ordered a 30-day truce to begin immediately. The UNSC move, however, had not stopped the carnage as the previous attacks had resulted in over 520 civilians killed and more than 2,100 injured in one week.

Iran and Russia let Assad continue to order more attacks as Ghouta’s 400,000 inhabitants (down from the area’s pre-war population of 2millions) were desperately urging a halt to attacks so they could bury their dead. Many Ghoutans said they would be buried under the rubble of their houses.

Syrian opposition spokesman Siraj Mahmoud on Feb 24 said: “Maybe there are many more [dead and wounded]. We were not able to count the martyrs yesterday because the war-jets have been touring the skies”.

Mahmoud said: “What we see in Eastern Ghouta is typical of ethnic-cleansing operations in most parts of Syria, like Aleppo [in the north] and Hums [in the centre], being executed by the Assad tyranny”. He added Assad is implementing an Iranian ethnic-cleansing plan for Syria. This is part of a long-term Tehran programme to establish a durable strategic corridor linking Iran to Syria and Lebanon through Iraq… Douma was planned to be the corridor’s most vital part.

In Yemen, Iran is an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood, a trans-national Sunni movement born in Egypt in 1928 and now active in 70 countries, has got the Houthis to begin making overtures to this organization. Saudi Arabia kingdom, strongly opposed to political Islam, be it Shi’i or Sunni, sees both Iran’s theocracy and the Sunni radicals like the Muslim Brotherhood or al-Qaeda and ISIS affiliates as charlatans and the most serious threat to the faith. Prince Bin Salman is being championed as standing against radical Islam.

The Zaidi Shi’i militia of Houthi clan in Yemen has adopted Iran’s Safawi ideology and they are known among Sunni communities in the region as “cheap thugs” working for Tehran. The Trump administration on March 31 demanded strong international pressures on Iran and its Houthi proxies in Yemen from where the latter are firing missiles at Saudi Arabia. With the growing Trump’s policy of anti-Iran expansionism n the region, the Iranian regime is betting on Russian President Vladimir Putin whose toxicology and his use of poison to punish rivals and foes has become known worldwide.

Prince Bin Salman warned Iran it would face war with Saudi Arabia if Tehran did not stop firing missiles at the kingdom.  On March 31, the prince was widely quoted by the Western media as warning there will be an Iran-Saudi war if more sanctions and other forms of pressure on Tehran did not work to change the theocracy’s plans against Arab neighbours.

Despite having at least 200 most advanced US fighter/bombers and it is said to get almost similar aircrafts from France, the Saudi kingdom seeks peaceful channels to stop the Iranian interventions in its issues and sovereignty. Prince Bin Salman again urged the UNSC to squeeze Tehran economically and politically so that it ended its territorial and other ambitions in the Arab world. He urged UNSC sanctions on Iran and the Houthis which are acting as Iran’s proxies and have fired several missiles to a number of Saudi cities, with one Egyptian expatriate in Riyadh killed.

Iran’s Safawi movement, however, is trying not let Crown Prince Bin Salman weaken its presence in Yemen or any other country where it has strategic assets held by its proxies. There is no indication that Iran will tolerate a loss in Yemen or elsewhere because such loss will affect the theocracy’s own survival. Whether there will be a military confrontation between Iran and the Saudi Kingdom remains to be seen.

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.