Tensions between Iran and Saudi impact the whole region

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By Middle East Affairs

The modern Middle East has never been more interconnected than now, and more divided, Iran and Saudi rival for regional control, while Israel stands behind the region’s largest military.

Russia, Turkey, and the United States are also seeking regional influence and fight proxy wars by their funding and ideology.

The numerous conflicts in the region affect each and all of them across national borders, the war in Syria, a military insurgency in Yemen, Turkish defense against Kurds, killings of Palestinians by Israel in Gaza, and a highly volatile relationship between Iran and Israel bein fought in Syria and Lebanon that could erupt into a regional war.

A Sunni-Shiite play for power across the Middle East and Gulf has been replaced with key players posting their strength via military, financial and diplomatic means.

Israel

Iran poses an existential threat to Israel, for that they are supreme rivals. To aid Iran, Hezbelloh would step in, their battles would be fought in southern Lebanon and northern Israel. Their relationship has been tested in recent weeks over Israel’s attacks on Iranian fighters in Syria, which led to Iranian rebuttal in Israeli occupied Golan Heights.

To Israel’s defense is the U.S, whose unwavering support means $3.8 billion in aid and international support, not least in the United Nations. Israel is determined to bury the Iranian nuclear deal and welcome’s President Trump’s close relationship such as the relocation of the embassy to Jeresulam that angered Palestinians and their Arab allies.

To further its fight with Iran, Israel is working towards alliances with Iran’s enemies in the region.

Ultimately, Israel would be happy to see Iran weakened, continue its occupation of Gaza, which Egypt also imposes with its closed board, and not to give back Palestine it’s ancestral lands.

Iran

All the stride made with President Obama has all but vanished under President Trump. The nuclear deal which could cost Iran hundreds of billions of dollars and reimposed sanctions under President Trump endanger Iran’s economy. The EU, Russia, and China also seek to win or lose in billions on the conditions of the Iran nuclear deal.

Iran’s next foreseeable foe after Israel is Saudi Arabia, to combat their adversaries they have formed alliances. Iran has backed President Bashar Assad in years of war with troops stationed in Syria and funded the Shiite Houthi rebels that are destroying Yemen and plunging it to starvation against Saudi-backed forces. Tehran also strongly supports Palestine’s cause since it directly pits them against Israel, but its ties with Hamas have weakened.

Iran has just about met its goal of building a tunnel of power through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon to the Mediterranean. They have done this by funding and supporting powerful Shiite militias in those areas, gaining extreme influence in the politics of the region. Now they are focused on securing the nuclear deal which guarantees their economic rise, however, criticisms say that sanctions relief is reaching the Iranian people.

Russia

President Putin’s support of Syrian president Assad has ensured his continued control of Syria and left millions dead in Aleppo and Ghouta, and the rest of the country. Without Russia’s money, Assad would have been defeated years ago putting a stop to the war. Russia also favors Iran but has been seen courting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as recently as Victory Day celebrations, just mere hours before Israel attacked Iranian forces in Syria.

Russia is interested in the region because it wants to replace the U.S’s previous hold of influence in Syria and the region.

Saudi Arabia

With the U.S’s friendship behind them, the Prince has spent billions of dollars on a proxy war in Yemen and building up anti-Iranian Gulf coalition against Iranian-allied Shiite Houthi rebels. The fighting between Saudi and Iran in Yemen has accounted for the worst humanitarian crisis since Darfur, leaving millions to starve and the country’s infrastructure completely destroyed along with it decades worth of hope for any chance of rebuilding. Saudi has made vague threats that the kingdom would build a nuclear bomb if Iran were to restart their program.

Saudi wants regional power and that makes it Iran’s biggest rival. It was also President Trump’s first overseas trip after election signaling to the world their key alliance, that friendship has opened paths to cohorts with Israel.

It has lost influence in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria through losing backings. Ultimately, it wants to gain the power of the region and have Iran lose.

Turkey

A lot of Turkey’s tensions come from wanting to control the Kurds, who with the backing of the U.S defeated ISIS in Syria and reclaimed a fourth of the country. This infuriated President Erdogan who retaliated with a military campaign gaining control of an area in northern Syria. He has also threatened to attack all Kurds until the Iraqi border. U.S forces mixed among Kurdish fighters is perhaps the only reason why President Erdogan has shown restraint so far. The president also views all Kurdish fighters as part of the terrorist group, Turkish Kurdish PKK.

On the other hand, President Erdogan has been a staunch supporter of Palestine, offering to treat wounded Palestinians from Gaza, and has repeatedly criticised Israel’s show of violence, especially in last week’s killing of 62 Palestinians and injuring nearly 3000 in a single day.

 

United States

The motto goes according to Ilan Goldenberg, a former State Department and Pentagon official who runs the Mideast program at the Center for a New American Security, “Traditionally we’ve tried to play a role of a fireman in the Middle East. Now we’re playing the role of an arsonist.” A position that has long been believed in the region, from its role in restoring the shah in Iran in the 50’s to its war to Iraq.

From how much it wants to be perceived as a peace broker in the Middle East, the United States has lost credibility with Palestine, by constantly supporting and emboldening Israel. President Trump’s National Security advisor John Bolton has suggested attacking Iran and inciting a regime change. The President’s contempt for Iran can be seen from his withdrawal of the deal despite numerous warnings from the EU for the U.S to keep its promise. The administration has taken a backseat to Syria and let Russia take the reigns until chemical weapons made an appearance last month prompting the U.S to retaliate with airstrikes.

The U.S had found friends with Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and continues to follow their path on Yemen. Washington will now be closely watching Iraq after their elections last week awarded victory to an Anti-American anti-Iranian coalition.

As of recent Washington seems to be in complete agreeance with Israel and Saudi, showing no action of wanting to improve relations with Palestine and battling with Iran by reimposing stringent sanctions.

 

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