The military pros and cons for the leaders of Sunni and Shia Islam
In the Middle East, two Muslim powerhouses are squaring off. In one corner is Saudi Arabia and the Sunni Muslims. Relatively unseasoned yet well equipped, the house of Saud and its allies have been working feverishly to curtail the rise of their adversary. Shiite Iran stands in the opposing corner. The battle-hardened, though slightly less technologically advanced nation has stunned the Middle East with a string of victories that have seen Iranian hegemony grow to record levels.
Unfortunately, such expansion is quickly leading to confrontation between the two powers. In the event of a conflict, what would the two sides bring to the battle?
Saudi Arabia, its Gulf allies and Egypt underlined their breach with Washington over its Iran policy as two separate air operations went forward early Thursday, March 26, in Iraq and Yemen. The US launched its first air strikes against Islamic State positions in the Iraqi city of Tikrit to help the Iranian-commanded Iraqi operation which had failed to dislodge the jihadis in two weeks of fighting, while the warplanes of Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies joined by Egypt began bombing Yemeni cities to halt the Iran-backed Houthi rebellion.
They were the first Middle East nations to rise up and take military action to thwart the US-Iranian strategy embarked on by President Barack Obama to buy a nuclear deal by empowering Iran to attain hegemonic status in the region.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) are now leading war action in four Mid East arenas: Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon,while building Shiite “popular” armies deferring to Tehran in three: Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Continue reading
The problem with Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress March 3 was not the risk of offending Washington, but rather Washington’s receding relevance. President Barack Obama is not the only leader who wants to acknowledge what is already a fact in the ground, namely that “Iran has become the preeminent strategic player in West Asia to the increasing disadvantage of the US and its regional allies,” as a former Indian ambassador to Oman wrote this week.
For differing reasons, the powers of the world have elected to legitimize Iran’s dominant position, hoping to delay but not deter its eventual acquisition of nuclear weapons. Except for Israel and the Sunni Arab states, the world has no desire to confront Iran. Short of an American military strike, which is unthinkable for this administration, there may be little that Washington can do to influence the course of events. Its influence has fallen catastrophically in consequence of a chain of policy blunders. Continue reading