At the end of last November, a major crisis erupted in Yemen when former President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced his intentions to start negotiations with the Saudi-led coalition which has been trying to bomb Yemen into submission since March 2015.
This resulted in the Houthis movement voicing accusations of treason against their former ally, former President Saleh, who they’d been supporting in the struggle against the pro-Saudi runaway President, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The day after, Saleh was assassinated. The day before these accusations were made by the Houthis, they would announce that they’d managed to hit a nuclear power plant being built in the United Arab Emirates with a missile. Previously, a similar missile hit an airfield in Riyadh which resulted in Saudi Arabia rushing to spread allegations that the Houthis are using missiles supplied to them by Tehran.
Beyond the conflict in Yemen, those familiar with geopolitics acknowledge the joint effort by Israel and Saudi Arabia to find an excuse to launch strikes against Iranian troops in Syria along with nuclear facilities deep inside the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Earlier this month in an unprecedented interview, Israeli top military Lieutenant-General Gadi Eisenkot confirmed links with Saudi Arabia, although the two countries have no formal diplomatic relations.
Now one can expect Saudi Arabia to begin forming an anti-Iranian coalition [a Sunni-NATO] under the guise of uniting the Arab League. At the same time, Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu has aggressively been advocating for Iran’s demonization lately in reaching out to several European presidents and Foreign ministers. Nevertheless, Federica Mogherini, the current High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy has echoed the European Union’s “clear and united position” on the issue: “We believe that the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two states and with Jerusalem as the capital of both.” Furthermore, concerning the Iran’s Deal signed in July 2015 between the P5+1 and Iran, the E.U. is not impressed with Netanyahu’s unsubstantiated evidence and remains inflexible on the validity of the agreement. It is also credible that the U.N. is going to be drawn into the process, accusing Tehran of pushing forward its Ballistic missile program [a move which was not included in the deal], of hostile actions against certain Arab states along with attempts to pursue Shia expansion across the Middle East. Yesterday, while speaking from a military base in Washington in the most grotesque scenario, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. held a news conference during which were displayed multiple recovered missile debris that Nikki Haley presented as “concrete evidence” of Iran’s weapons proliferation. She went on calling on the international community to join “a united front in resisting this global threat.” Since 2003 and the alleged “concrete evidence” [US/UK fabricated evidence of WMD in Iraq], the International community is more than reluctant to trust America’s kind of “concrete proof.
“The short-range ballistic missile that you can see behind me was made in Iran, then sent to Houthi rebels in Yemen who fired it at a civilian international airport in Saudi Arabia on November 4th”.
Is it so? Many intelligence agency leaked reports suggest that the missile launched was an Israeli-concocted covered mission. Furthermore, here’s a united reply from the international community: How about commenting on countless U.S. missiles dropped on Yemen’s innocent civilians over the past two years? How about commenting on recurring maritime blockades which are now resulting in almost 10 million fallen into dire famine and cholera according to UNHCR latest official statements urging to stop a “stupid war” on Yemen?
To understand the context of a war scenario on Iran, one first needs to understand what has happened in Syria and other Middle Eastern countries in recent years.
THE ORIGINAL PLAN
The original plan of the US and Saudi Arabia (behind whom stood an invisible Israel) included the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad, his replacement with Sunni Islamic fundamentalists or “takfirists” (Daesh, al-Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra), the creation of an independent Kurdistan; all of these goals with a view to achieving a balkanization of the region on the exact same model as the one used and applied on former Yugoslavia during the 1990s.
On a wider scale, the recent plan consisting in sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan on the torn narrative of “Global war against terrorism” while, at the same time, instilling political tensions, civil unrest and violence along sectarian or ethnic lines between Pakistan and India but also in Armenia (north of Iran) as well as between Myanmar and Bangladesh are clear attempts to first isolate Iran on a regional scale but more significantly, to destabilize Russia and to create chaos along all routes included in China’s Belt and Road Initiative plan
Regarding the Syrian theater, the original plan involved the following steps:
- Sweep away a strong secular Arab state with a political culture, armed forces and security services;
- Generate total chaos and horror in Syria which would justify the creation of Israel’s “security zone” not only in the Golan Heights region, but also further north;
- Start a civil war in Lebanon and incite “Takfiri” violence against Hezbollah, leading to them both bleeding to death and then create a “security zone”; this time in Lebanon;
- Prevent the creation of a “Shiite axis” of Iran/Iraq/Syria/Lebanon;
- Continue the Balkanization of Syria along ethnic and religious lines;
- Establish an independent Kurdistan and then, use these populations against Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran;
- Give Israel the opportunity to become the unquestioned military player in the region and force Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait etc. to apply for permission from Israel in order to implement any energy [oil and gas] projects;
- Gradually isolate, threaten, undermine and ultimately attack Iran with a wide regional coalition with a view to removing all Shiite centers of power in the Middle East;
Indeed, this was a bold and shrewd plan. Israel was positive that the United States would provide all the necessary resources to see it through. From the early beginning of the war in Syria, all the “takfirist” groups (Daesh, al-Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra) were founded and armed by the coalition. Last October, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani confessed the truth behind the origins of the war in Syria in a rare television interview.
During the same week, a leaked top secret NSA document was published which confirmed that the armed opposition in Syria was under the direct command of foreign governments from the early years of the conflict. This was therefore absolutely not about a genuine so-called “Arab spring” .
Meanwhile, the Syrian government has survived thanks to the military assistance supplied by Iran (Iranian Revolution Guard Corps-IRGC), Hezbollah forces, local Iraqi and Syrian groups including many Kurds and ultimately thanks to the Russian intervention which started in September 2015, after 4 years of enduring the fallacy of a so-called “total war on DAESH/ISIS/ ISIL”.
Last week, Vladimir Putin confirmed that ISIS was wiped out of Syria as a formal state with borders, an administration, financial and military structures. The day before yesterday, Iraq’s Prime Minister said that armed operations against ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) group had ended after Iraqi forces regained control of the country’s borders.
“All Iraqi lands are liberated from terrorist Daesh gangs and our forces completely control the international Iraqi-Syrian borders”.
Lastly, Vladimir Putin ordered the partial withdrawal of Russian forces in Syria. On the contrary, the U.S. whose presence on the Syrian ground is not consistent with the international law has not, nor have the U.S. troops left from Iraq. The capture of Iraqi natural resources speaks for itself.
Without the shadow of a doubt, the Sunni “Daesh [ISIS/ISIL] threat card” is toasted in the eyes of the international community, even if sleeping cells will be activated at some point in the coming future. Many reports from decent world’s media organizations have suggested that on December 9 2017, DAESH literally evaporated into thin air. I am afraid that these reports are utterly superficial. It is true that its militants have not gone anywhere. They have just gone underground, split up into small hidden groups forming sleeper cells in cities and other population centres. By the end of the war with DAESH, rational military intelligence estimates that these ‘Lord warriors of Islam’ have fallen in number from 300,000 to 25,000. Many small units have recently been relocated by the US in Afghanistan as clearly suggested by former Afghan president Hamid Karzaï, in an unprecedented interview.
Furthermore, 25,000 people cannot just disappear in one day. Earlier, starting this summer, some of them have returned home to their countries- including both European countries and Russia. A significant number has been US-moved to Libya, Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria and a range of other countries. Additionally, many reports have proven that corridors were cleared by the so-called Coalition during takeover battles on Aleppo and Raqqa. However, the majority of Jihadists have been taken to camps in order to be prepared to adopt new methods of fight against IRGC and their Hezbollah allies. The locations include Arabic monarchies, African and Asian countries but also E.U-NATO camps (Kosovo, Ukraine, Turkey, Greece, Germany…), the U.S.A [where an official report acknowledges the current presence of 1,000 ISIS members] and Russia that may use them as local aides in the next conflict to emerge in the Middle Est region.
This being said, the current regional configuration reflects the following reality :
Iran and Hezbollah are strongly entrenched in Syria. Lebanon remains stable and has become even more attracted to Iran ever since the disruptive, if not, counterproductive recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel. Furthermore, including the recent attempt by the Saudis to instrumentalize Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s fake resignation on the ground of a supposed fear of the Hezbollah has failed.
A New Plan
As a result, Saudi Arabia and Israel have developed a new plan aiming at forcing the US to attack Iran. Over the last few weeks, Israel has launched vocal military airstrikes against Syria as part of other covered operations. In other words, after the collapsed “global war on terrorism” (GWOT), the new narrative depicts a Manichean childish fantasy world opposing the “axis of good” (USA-Israel-Saudi Arabia) against the “axis of Evil” (Iran, Syria, Iraq, Russia and China) even if the latter country cannot be directly cited, as China holds the global growth in her hands. Behind the failed Middle East Grand Strategy [failed attempt of regional balkanization], the obvious point to a fierce war between the US exceptionalist hegemony and its unipolar vision of the world against a multipolar vision whose main leader happens to be China and its humanitarian “win-win” Belt and Road initiative project (BRI, also known as OBOR or Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road).
On a regional scale, it is well known that the Saudis invaded Bahrain, are occupying it de facto and have incited a “stupid” war on Yemen since 2015 with the complicity of a Western-Sunni axis of Hatred”. It is also crystal clear that Israel will be participating in any plan that will finally split the Sunnis and Shiites, turning the region into rubble. Playing once more on the 70-year old rhetoric of the Shoah [which resulted in turning a historic fact into the new religion of the western world], the current government instrumentalizes a fact as its best moral excuse for strengthening its oppression on the Palestinians as well as on its own citizens whose living conditions go deteriorating on the fallacy of “security concerns”, thus justifying endless military budget spendings. To those who are familiar with the U.S. military industrial complex, the analogy with the Israeli modern reality is striking.
Why is it crucial to drag the United States in this mess?
For the Saudis and the Israelis, the main problem lies in the fact that they have rather weak armed forces although both countries are equipped with the best high tech. When it comes to full-scale hostilities, especially against a really strong opponent such as the Iranians and the Hezbollah, including honest Israeli top militaries agree that the “Israel/Wahhabis” have very little to no chance to win, although this reality is very painful to admit. Hence, one simply needs to think up some kind of plan to force the Shiites to pay a high price.
The new scenario
Undoubtedly, the new scenario is far less sophisticated than the previous one. As mentioned earlier, the goal is to initiate a serious conflict and then force the US to intervene.
….As of today, the US Pentagon has neither finished yet the rebuilding of its military capacities nor has it accomplished crucial upgrades; a factor which constitutes a major issue, should the U.S. be forced to intervene as early as now in a direct war against Iran. True, although he has vocally and repeatedly pretended otherwise, former President Obama spent over a trillion dollars on nuclear program upgrades. True, although trying his best under a configuration such as his own daughter married a radical Zionist who happens to rule the White House from behind with Israel’s current leader’s complicity or strong hold, unpredictable, senile or juvenile President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem comes as no surprise. But behind these attributes may lay a cunning plot which may well be the twisted genius of Benjamin Netanyahu. Trump wants to “make America great again” and therein is his genius for an irrational war. Indeed, it is an open secret to state that US unlimited and undeclared wars worldwide greatly contribute to fill empty coffers while offering the U.S. Dollar a life extension. Meanwhile, a direct attack on Iran could result in the Armageddon scenario, with unfit American-NATO forces facing their biggest super prepared Chinese-Russian-Iran foes along with several other nations eager to get rid of a vicious circle promoting a global imperialism for happy few. Leaked Pentagon/ RAND reports suggest that the risk of an overwhelming defeat has now reached a far too high range, not to mention astonishing figures in terms of fatalities and environmental catastrophes that this scenario would include.
From the Israeli point of view, this hard to chew reality is almost unacceptable. Therefore, their effort concentrates on forcing the US to participate in a war that they do not really need.
According to the Iranians, the Israeli goal of provoking an attack on Iran by the US is not meant to defeat Iran, but to bring about just enough destruction to then, watch Shiite Muslims and Sunni Muslims kill each other.
…..In other words, let the Saudis finance a war on Lebanon as well as on the Iranian troops in Syria and/or Iran under any pretext.
…..In the meantime [during the greetings season and probably over the first quarter of 2018], let America does what she does best; run a full on pro-Israel propaganda campaign explaining to the average American and European that Iran poses a threat to the entire region; that “it is the aggressor”, and that “the Saudis/ obedient GCC countries are only protecting themselves from Evil Iran”. Let the US-led and compelled western MSM media disseminate the narrative that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is a pacific, tolerant “enlightened sovereign” who has allowed women to drive and who is now letting them into Movie Theater “quarantine rooms”. Let the talks amid the political solution to the Syrian conflict collapse. Let the U.S. vocally blame Bashar-Al Assad unwillingness to compromise in accepting some sort of “decentralization units” on the Syrian territory although 2000 US troops in northeastern Syria and 10 American bases there make it impossible for the SAA (Syrian Regular Army) to militarily reintegrate this region. Let the U.S. increase the psychological manipulation of the Kurds while instilling more sectarian divisions. In brief, let America makes a fool of herself in disseminating whatever absurdity it takes to justify a war on Iran. Now that the “ISIS threat” narrative is uncovered and that the world has realized that it was a screen all throughout the six-year Syrian conflict, the original target must be demonized full scale.
….As usual, Congressmen and Senators from the Israeli lobbies (AIPAC…)on Capitol Hill are under orders to explain to the American people that the United States should “lead the free world” in order to protect “the only democracy in the Middle-East against Iranian aggression” and that the United States bears “responsibility” for preventing “the seizure of Saudi and Iraqi oil fields by Iran”; oil without which the US Dollar crumbles down in a tickling of an eye.
What is even more interesting to mention is that several Saudi Princes along with various other Gulf Monarchies have recently signed contracts worth billions with China and Russia. China is the 1st oil importing country in the world. Contracts are signed in Yuan-Oil; China’s challenging trade currency to petrodollar. What is dramatically noteworthy here to learn is that Beijing will soon have the possibility to guarantee the conversion of Yuan-Oil into Gold; the exact same system as the one which prevailed until 1971. In other words, ARAMCO could sell fortunes in oil and make even bigger stocks of Gold reserves. Hence, the kingdom would be able to diversify its oil-driven economy and create job opportunities without privatizing huge sectors of the economy and thus, without taking the risk of massive dissatisfaction emerging from the street and/or clerical spheres. For obvious reasons, both in economic and geopolitical arenas; [Big western investment groups and corporations would therefore lose their much coveted market and the Gulf monarchies could operate a dramatic shift towards East], this tendency had to be stopped, especially in a context where several Gulf countries have already taken participations in China’s AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) as well as in several other China-led Asian organizations, the Belt Road initiative project etc..
The recent turmoil in the Gulf region echoes attempts to sabotage a “Gulf countries’ pivot towards China” by a combination of flattery, of intimidation, of threat to be overthrown ect. The last development in the region objectifies that Prince Crown Mohammed Bin Salman is a young man under Israeli strong influence.
Furthermore, had the GCC not been divided on purpose [US/Israel-fomented escalation of tensions between Qatar and Saudi Arabia last June, 5] which resulted in an ongoing regional economic blockade/ an additional trip by Jared Kushner to SA urging Prince Crown Muhammed bin Salman (MBS) to orchestrate a nepotistic coup in Riyadh hours before last November 4th/ a very doubtful “Iran-made” missile launched from Yemen and which conveniently exploded on Riyadh’s International airport during the very same night, Israel would not have been able to implement this second scenario in the making. Indeed, although rigorously inconsistent with the International law, not only was the reckless recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel dedicated to rally Trumpsters and Netanyhu’s fanatics worldwide while forcing a Sunni military alliance or task force against Iran, beyond the vocal condemnation, but it was also the green light signal for a greater so-called long lasting Peace scenario in the Middle East.
It is no coincidence that while an extraordinary summit of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Co-operation) comprising 57 Islamic nations was being held on December 12-13 in Istanbul to “discuss the repercussions of the American decision, and to formulate a unified Islamic position on this dangerous escalation”, the Egyptian newspaper Ash-Sharq released details about secret agreements between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
According to these reports, Saudi Arabia offered to invade Syria and isolate its southern part, namely, Israeli-Syrian disputed and oil-rich region known as the Golan Heights. The Ash-Sharq notes that according to the documents it has at its disposal, Saudi Arabia also called on the “Israeli regime” to block the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, thus preventing Palestinians from any moves and stopping the support that some Arab countries have been providing to them. On the same day, Israel reduced Gaza’s fishing zone from 9 to 6 nautical miles.
An American/Saudi Arabian/Israeli plan to trap the Palestinians ?
There have been announcements that Saudi Arabia is prepared to sell its recognition of Jerusalem as the indivisible capital of Israel. After envisioning various scenari, rational thinking concludes to the following proposal of “peaceful” final agreement:
- A resolving plan to the Palestinian issue would redraw the border territories of Israel and Egypt. In clear, the overcrowded sector of the Gaza strip may be proposed hundreds of miles into the Egyptian territory [The Sinai desert].
- At the same time, Palestinians may receive a chunk of the current Israeli Negev desert, bearing in mind that the “Red Med” itinerary MAP[rail line from Eilat to Tel-Aviv as part of the Israeli participation to the Chinese BRI project which would create an alternative route to the Suez Canal for Goods and Passenger transportations] is built along an Israeli Neguev.
- In return, the Palestinians would be somehow forced to surrender between 10 to 20% of their territories in the West Bank [area C] as well as their claims amid East-Jerusalem as the capital of their future independent State.
Under such circumstances, what could Tehran’s counterplan be?
The Iranians have no good option. The least bad option for them is to turn down anydirect confrontation with the foe, at least at a strategic level. However, this observation absolutely does not mean that Iran should not resist at a tactical level. Accordingly, as tempting as it may be, the Iranians tend to refrain from retaliation against Saudi Arabia. The same remark applies vis-à-vis Israeli ongoing operations in Syria. Then, why?
Beyond the irony, it is noteworthy to say that Iran cannot do the same as Hezbollah did in 2006. Here again, the obvious speaks for itself. Indeed, during the month-conflict in 2006, by the time the first Hezbollah rockets started falling on Israel, the Israelis had already reached the highest level of military capacity (with the exception of their undeclared nuclear power).
In the current case of Iran, only the United States can raise the level of violence far beyond the limit that the Israelis and the Saudis can reach together.
To put it different, the combined power of Israel and Saudi Arabia simply does not bear comparison with the firepower that the United States CENTCOM+NATO can muster against Iran. It is therefore crucial that the Iranians do not give the Americans any pretext to officially join the aggression.
Consequently, instead of bringing down the regime in Riyadh, it is more beneficial for the Iranians to allow and even assist the regime in Riyadh in destroying itself. This process is already underway and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman only accelerated it with his repression of the ruling family during the night of last November 4, 2017. The Saudis’ chance for survival is much smaller than that of the US or Israel.
Additionally, it is almost needless to assume that if the United States gets involved in hostilities against Iran and unleashes all of its military power against them, which is still a very real possibility, then all bets are off and Iran should and will respond with a complete set of proportionate and disproportionate responses, including attacks on Israel and Saudi Arabia, on oil fields in particular, and even on CENTCOM bases throughout the region.
This outcome would have immediate calamitous economic consequences for Iran, and therefore they will avoid it if at all possible. But on their own, the Israelis and the Saudis are simply a union without a solid foundation, with even Hezbollah prompting fear in them.
One can be pro-Israel. pro-Saudi Arabia or else, pro-Iran. For none of them would the most predictable scenario a “wise option”.
The main question remains: will there be an attack?
In short, more than not, probably yes. The simple truth is that current leaders in power in Israel and in Saudi Arabia are somewhat inadequate. The first one faces many social disappointments and not less than seven legal enquiries on bribery charges on the domestic level. On a regional level, he has participated into a plan which resulted in a humanitarian crisis in his region with a consequential migration crisis having nastily weakened the European unity. The second one happens to have a personality which vacillates between susceptibility and tyrannical methods. If any, his excuse is to be a young and inexperienced man under heavy and unwise western influence. Nonetheless, both happen to be backed into a corner. The recent visits to Moscow by Bibi Netanyahu and even by the King of Saudi Arabia (last Oct 5, 2017) were part of an attempt to gauge the likely Russian reaction in the event of an attack on Iran.
Vladimir Putin made it clear to both visitors that Russia will not remain on the sidelines and will not allow them to attack Iran.
To look at things realistically, Russia has a very limited set of options. Russia cannot openly afford a formal participation into a war against Iran, which would put her personnel at risk of direct assault, especially if the United States gets involved.
But Russia can significantly and swiftly strengthen the Iranian Air Defence, placing its A-50 and MiG-31 aircrafts in Iran, guiding them in reconnaissance missions from airfields in Russian territory for instance. Russia could also provide the country with intelligence that the Iranians themselves could never obtain.
On a tactical level, Moscow could also place some of their electronic warfare systems at key points in Iran. All in all, Russia could do for Iran a part or more than what they did for Syria in integrating the Iranian and Russian Air Defence systems into a single network.
We shall not hereby even mention what airspace capabilities China is able to provide, with the knowledge that Iran plays a substantial role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative project in Central Asia and beyond.
Lastly, President Trump’s decision to not re-certify Iran’s compliance to the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) has a lot to do with this whole scenario. It is perhaps for this reason that among the reasons given for decertification, not a single one relates even remotely to Iran’s possible violation of its terms. It was arguably suggested Iran’s non-compliance with the “spirit of the deal”. However, is it necessary to mention that a deal has no spirit? Either it does comply with legal basis, or it does not. Consequently, one can easily understand that it is Iran’s regional policies and growing influence in the Middle-East (Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen) which directly conflicts with a certain “spirit”; namely the all package composed of Saudi Arabia/Israel/the US Neocons-the US military industrial complex/President Trump’s Jewish family branch) whose lines of common interests are obvious that have prompted the US president to decertify the deal. Nonetheless, it is quite puzzling that including the U.S. State Department itself reported to the US House Speaker Paul Ryan in April 2017 that :
“Iran is compliant through April 18th with its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (…) Iran has been meeting all conditions set by the deal has also been verified by IAEA six times since January 2016″.
Even the U.S. president hasn’t said a word about Iran breaching the deal’s terms. Instead, his emphasis has been on Iran being a ‘sponsor’ of terrorism in the region—something that the U.S. sees as due to Iran’s economic recovery after sanctions were lifted, and its ability to translate its re-gained economic wealth into direct and indirect military power.
When a Grand Strategy has failed, blame the foe of being responsible for your own evil and misfortune.
The Jewish people have learnt this lesson the hard way. It is very unfortunate that the current Israeli PM has forgotten that it cannot end well. Israel is supposed to keep the light, not to blow it out for 99% of mankind. Happy Hanukkah to the world.
G-d has a boundless sense of irony. This may be what will save the world in the end.
Mylene Doublet O’Kane, December 15, 2017
MD O’Kane is an Israeli French teacher, a post graduate in Philosophy, in History of ideas and an independent analyst in geopolitics.
Republishing of this article is welcomed with reference to TCO. The views of the author do not necessarily coincide with the opinion of the editorial board.