Tag Archives: Saudis

PROXY WAR PITS SAUDIS AGAINST IRAN

Shia-Houthi rebels                                                 Shia-Houthi rebels

The Middle East continues to dominate the headlines.

A proxy war is taking place in strategically located Yemen, between Iran and Saudi Arabia, backed by the US.

The country’s Sunni president was overthrown in January by Shia Houthi rebels from the north.   Supported by Iran, they are moving south, establishing control over a wider area.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition of ten Arab countries in an attempt to restore the Sunni led government to power.   The US backs Saudi Arabia, but, as usual, it’s more complicated than that. AQAP (Al Qaeda in Yemen) is also fighting the Houthis.   Even Islamic State, a long way from home, is involved.

It gets messier.

Last week, the 22-nation Arab League met in Sharm el-Sheikh.   In a final communiqué, the 22 nations pledged to form a unified military force to deal with regional security issues.   This primarily means Iran.

The Sunni-Shia conflict is widening and now pits all 22 Arab nations against Iran.

The war in Yemen could also get worse. Most non-Yemenis have flown out of the country, rescued in aircraft sent to the country by their home governments.

Yemen is very important to the Saudis, who neighbor them to the north.   Saudi Arabia is feeling increasingly encircled by Iranian proxies, to the south in Yemen, to the north in Iraq and Syria and also Hezbollah in Lebanon

There is a growing fear that the war could spill over into Saudi Arabia, which has a small Shi’ite population. It could also affect Oman, which has been an oasis of peace under its current leader, Sultan Qaboos.   Bahrain, too, which is the regional naval base for the US Fifth Fleet, could be seriously affected. It’s Sunni king walks a tightrope ruling over a majority Shi’ite population, estimated to be about two thirds of the total number of Bahraini citizens.

Iran has effectively declared war on Sunni Islam. The country is aiding the Iraqi majority Shi’ite government against ISIS.   The US has been helping bomb the rebels, thereby risking accusations of being an Iranian proxy.   But, further south, the US is supporting the Sunnis in Yemen against Iran.

No wonder everybody is confused.   And no wonder our domestic news channels tend to avoid getting into this.   To fully understand the situation, you need a degree in history, another in geography and a third in comparative religion!

Suffice it to say, it’s a real mess.

Interestingly, this week Senator Rand Paul has entered the US presidential campaign.   His isolationist message will inevitably appeal to voters anxious to get out of the Mideast and leave the Sunnis and Shi’ites to fight to the (very) bitter end.  (One opinion poll today shows him leading over Hillary Clinton.)

However, it’s not as simple as that.   The Bible shows us that, out of this quagmire, will come a regional leader who will attack Europe.   A revival of the Roman Empire (the King of the North) will then have to intervene in the region.  You can read about this in the last few verses of Daniel, chapter 11 (verses 40-44).

We can already see the Europeans waking up to the seriousness of the threats coming from the nearby Middle East.   A 25,000 strong rapid reaction force has been established to deal with further Russian aggression.   But it can also be used to deal with problems that arise in the Middle East that may threaten Europe.

The Middle East is not going to calm down.   The problems in the region are only likely to worsen in the future, as we near the time of Christ’s return.

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THREE DOWN IN THREE DAYS

NSA

On Monday the French were angry at the US when they learned that the latter had been listening in to French citizens’ phone conversations.

Two days later the Germans were even angrier following revelations that the US government had been listening in to Chancellor Merkel’s cell phone conversations.

In between, the US managed to upset the Saudis.  The Administration in Washington had already lost Egypt.  The last time the US lost a major ally in the Middle East was in 1979 when the Iranian revolution led to the rise of the Ayatollah’s under President Carter.  Some claim this was the start of World War III – a struggle without end against Islamic fundamentalism.  Saudi Arabia is upset with the way the US has been handling (or rather, not handling) the Syrian situation and Iran.

Last night, a dinner was scheduled in Washington for the visiting Brazilian president, who cancelled, to show her anger at US surveillance of Brazil’s leaders.  Mexico has expressed similar concerns following similar revelations from NSA defector, Edward Snowden.

These are serious set-backs for the United States that could lead to the unraveling of alliances that go back decades.

A French think tank has written that “the de-Americanization of the world has begun – emergence of solutions for a multipolar world by 2015.” (Global Europe Bulletin #78)

“It’s one of those times when history accelerates.  Whatever the outcome of the negotiations on the shutdown and debt ceiling, October 2013 is one of them.  It’s the deadlock too far, which has opened the eyes of those who still support the United States.  A leader is followed when he is believed, not when he is ridiculous.”  (GEAB #78; October 16th)

The following paragraph is devastating, written at the height of the US government crisis:

“In fact, if the whole world is holding its breath before this pathetic game of the US elite; it’s not out of compassion, it’s to avoid being swept away in the fall of the world’s first power.  Everyone is trying to free itself from American influence and let go of a United States permanently discredited by recent events over Syria, tapering, shutdown and now the debt ceiling.  The legendary US power is now no more than a nuisance and the world has understood that it’s time to de-Americanise.”

This de-Americanization is partially economic – the dollar index has been steadily dropping as the currency loses value against other currencies due to nations no longer wanting to hold dollar reserves or trade with the currency.

Deuteronomy 28:25 says that the modern Israelites will “become troublesome to all the kingdoms of the earth” because of their sin.  This is what we see continuing to happen.

Germany has already suggested an overhaul of NATO, the 28-member alliance of western democracies founded 64 years ago, the oldest multinational alliance in the world and the longest lasting in history.

“German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière wants to strengthen cooperation among NATO members and is calling for reform of the military alliance.”  (“NATO Reform:  German plan faces broad opposition,” Der Spiegel, October 22nd)

Under the German proposal, NATO countries would be divided into “clusters,” smaller groups of countries, to be led by a bigger member nation.  This would enable a small group of nations to be used in a military intervention in an area assigned to them.  The idea would give Germany more power within NATO.  It would, for example, allow Germany to lead a group of nations (ten?) in a military action in the Middle East.  The proposal is supported by the US and the UK, but opposed by France.  Washington is happy to see Germany doing more, so that the US can do less in a time of serious defense cuts.

Germany’s defense minister has been tipped to replace Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Danish NATO Secretary-General, who might retire in a few months.  This would also enhance Germany’s role in the alliance.

The GEAB newsletter is correct – the debacle over Syria and the impasse in Washington, possibly to be repeated in January, have both woken up the world.   Significant changes are likely to take place in the foreseeable future.

The US has seriously upset three allies in three days – the week isn’t over yet!

(The above was written earlier today, Thursday; at 3pm Eastern time, the news reported that Italy has today protested about US surveillance on Italians.  This is the fourth ally in four days; and we still have Friday to go!)

(Further – a later news program revealed that the US has been monitoring the cell phone conversations of 35 world leaders.)