Saudi Arabia and Iran on a collision course
By Olivier Guitta
I just wrote an article for the Weekly Standard on the recent escalation of tension between Riyadh and Tehran.
You can read the whole piece here. http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/016/272acmbf.asp
Here is an excerpt:
A few weeks ago, an adviser to Iran's supreme leader called Bahrain Iran's 14th province. Not only did Bahrain react indignantly, but--more important--so did Saudi Arabia. For, even as a potential conflict between Iran and Israel grabs headlines, tensions have been building between Tehran and Riyadh. The Saudis fear both Iran's nuclear program and its expansionist agenda.
And that's not all. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 launched a far-reaching competition between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia for control of Islam and the ummah, the worldwide community of Muslims. Since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became president, Iran has increased its expenditure of money, energy, and time on proselytizing populations, from Africa to the Gulf.
Saudi Arabia, more than any other Sunni country, feels threatened by this new wave of Shiite proselytizing. Saudi social affairs minister Abdel Mohsen al Hakas has called it unacceptable, and King Abdullah himself has accused Shiites of trying to convert Sunnis, pointing the finger at Tehran. The matter is of vital concern to the kingdom, which prizes its position as the cradle of Islam--all the more since Ahmadinejad and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah are now among the most popular figures in the Arab world.
Iran's expansionist strategy is not limited to religious affairs. Hundreds of Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah fighters who got their military training in Iran have infiltrated the Gulf since last year in order to "militarize" the Shiite communities of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. Their mission is to prepare to destabilize these monarchies, targeting vital national interests and Western interests (both embassies and businesses) in the event of a U.S. or Israeli military strike against Iran.
March 16, 2009 11:15 AM