Tuesday, September 06, 2016

To Be Fair, Allah is On Their Side, Right?

Never say the Iranians don't think big:

With Iranians blocked from this month's hajj pilgrimage, their supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a furious rebuke to rival Saudi Arabia, saying the Muslim world should challenge its management of Islam's holiest sites.

And why yes, Iran would certainly consider the honor of running Mecca and Medina (and all of Saudi Arabia, if you insist) for the benefit of both Shias and the majority Sunnis of the Moslem world.

And when Iran has nukes, Iran might insist a little harder on that implied point.

So if Saudi Arabia, which is already in a proxy war with Iran across the Middle East, isn't involved in this, I'd have to ask why not?

A decision by a Kurdish opposition group to take up arms against Iranian authorities has senior officials in Tehran worrying that Saudi Arabia is seeking to undermine its stability in a deepening of their regional rivalry.

Riyadh denies the charge. But tension between the two countries is surging, with Saudi Arabia and Iran supporting opposite sides in wars in Syria and Yemen and rival political parties in Iraq and Lebanon. The contest has largely hewed along sectarian lines as mainly Shi'ite Iran and Saudi Arabia, a predominantly Sunni country, vie for influence.

That competition, officials in Tehran worry, has now spread inside their borders, thanks to what they fear is Riyadh's exploitation of the Islamic Republic's communal rifts.

Yes, even as Iran exploits communal rifts to sow chaos in the region that Iran can exploit, Iran itself is rife with rifts. Iran has many minorities on their borders, the echoes of past imperial conquest when Iran was known as Persia, which was the rump of the former Persian Empire.


Given what Iran is doing to undermine the Saudis, and what America has done to pave the way for Iran to get nuclear weapons, a Hail Mary (so to speak) play to break up Iran might be the best hope Saudi Arabia has of stopping Iran's nuclear march to nukes and regional dominance short of supporting an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear infrastructure.

And that approach of destabilizing Iran would cover the possibility that Iran's nuclear weapons path goes through North Korea, making targets in Iran just red herrings.

Have super sparkly, Smart Diplomacy day!