Monday, January 4, 2016

Spreading Chaos


Chaos is spreading throughout the Middle-East as nations divide along religious lines:
 
Catherine E. Shoichet and Mariano Castillo, "Saudi Arabia-Iran row spreads to other nations," CNN, January 4, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/04/middleeast/saudi-arabia-iran-severing-ties-whats-next/
(CNN)The fallout of Saudi Arabia's execution of a Shiite cleric is spreading beyond a spat between the Saudis and Iranians, as other Middle East nations chose sides Monday and world powers Russia and China weighed in.
Bahrain announced Monday that it was severing diplomatic ties with Iran, citing Tehran's "blatant and dangerous interference" in Bahrain and other Arab countries. The United Arab Emirates said it was "downgrading" its diplomatic relations with Iran. The UAE recalled its ambassador in Tehran and said it would also reduce the number of diplomats stationed in Iran, according to state news agency WAM.
ZeroHedge has a very good map of the distribution of Sunni and Shiite in the Middle East available here: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-01-04/just-became-most-important-map-geopolitics

Earlier in 2015, Al Jazeera ran an interesting article about the tension between the Saudis and Shia

Martin Reardon, "Saudi Arabia, Iran and the 'Great Game' in Yemen," Al Jazeera, March 26, 2015, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/09/saudi-arabia-iran-great-game-ye-201492984846324440.html
Reminiscent of the "Great Game" played out in Afghanistan between Great Britain and Russia more than a hundred years ago, Saudi Arabia and Iran are engaged in their own decades-long strategic rivalry for power and influence in the Middle East, stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf and Arabian Sea. It is built mostly along sectarian and ideological lines - Saudi Arabia as the leader of the Sunni Muslim world, and Iran as the leader of the Shia Muslim world.

While recent high-level discussions between the Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers would suggest a possible thawing in their cold relations, the fact of the matter is, too much bad blood exists between them for any meaningful, long-term rapprochement, at least in the near-term. The more likely state of affairs is that they are simply reassessing their strategies, taking into account all the events in the region, and preparing their next moves on the Middle East chessboard.
Saudi Arabia is well armed in this conflict. It has been purchasing weapons from the US, paying cash, for decades. See this link for an interesting historical discussion: http://fas.org/asmp/profiles/saudi_arabia.htm

In fact, the Washington Post reported in 2015 that US weapons would play a significant role in Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/03/26/how-u-s-weapons-will-play-a-large-role-in-saudi-arabias-war-in-yemen/

In April 2015, Democracy Now asked whether Obama's record arms sales to the Saudis were playing a role in rising discord in the Middle East: http://www.democracynow.org/2015/4/7/are_obamas_record_arms_sales_to

It looks like they may have.

Epochal times we live in.



4 comments:

  1. http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/01/04/american-casualties-of-the-u-s-nuclear-weapons-program/

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    1. Very interesting article:

      [excerpted from link above] "When Americans think about nuclear weapons, they comfort themselves with the thought that these weapons’ vast destruction of human life has not taken place since 1945—at least not yet. But, in reality, it has taken place, with shocking levels of U.S. casualties.

      This point is borne out by a recently-published study by a team of investigative journalists at McClatchy News. Drawing upon millions of government records and large numbers of interviews, they concluded that employment in the nation’s nuclear weapons plants since 1945 led to 107,394 American workers contracting cancer and other serious diseases."

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  2. In the late '80's Muslim friends of mine from the Middle East were of one accord in praising Iraq and Baghdad and equally troubled by Saudi Arabia with its black and grey lists and its 7 story underground prisons. Saudis were spied on in America according to one Saudi graduate student. Wahhabis as a Muslim sect are about like Identity Christians who among other things believe adulterous women should be stoned! It is certainly deplorable that the US and the UK are regularly selling arms to Saudi Arabia which are then used to destroy Yemen. Unfortunately the 1950's lie too far back in history for Americans to realize the the CIA with MI6 overthrew the democratic government of Iran and placed a very nasty man in power -- because much like Allende of Chile he was not in favor of letting the US and UK take their oil for a song. I have read that ISIS is largely Wahhabi and selling children of late to wear bomb vests.

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    1. Blow-Back sucks doesn't it.

      Seems like events are truly spiraling out of control.

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