Alwaght- The Saudi-Iranian relations after execution of the influential Saudi Arabia’s Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr have entered new stage.
Many believe that the fresh tensions between the two countries are not only produced by the recent developments and execution of Sheikh Nimr but also they are linked to the changes Saudi Arabia has been experiencing in the new era and under the new king Salman bin Abdulaziz.
These tensions have resulted in Saudi Arabia making new regional adventurings and interventions. Considering the significance of the issue and the need to track the other regional developments, including implementation of Iran’s nuclear deal known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Alwaght has conducted an interview with Hassan Kazemi Qumi, the former Iranian ambassador to Iraq.
Alwaght: How do you assess Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy under King Salman?
Qumi: Following the death of the former king Abdullah, the Saudis’ approach has seen a tangible and essential change in the three internal, regional and international levels, especially in dealing with the Islamic Republic.
The red lines once Riyadh has been considering in its relations with Tehran are now broken. In the Yemeni case, the Saudi officials have decided to support the anti-Yemeni people front, a decision led in imposing a full-scale war against the Yemenis. Concerning terrorism and its expansion, Saudi Arabia has been openly active( in backing the terrorists). While in the time of King Abdullah we have observed a kind of rivalry between the Muslim Brotherhood, the Wahhabism and the Saudi rulers, now we can see a kind of convergence between these three.
Most importantly, the kingdom’s ties with the Israeli regime are being enhanced more openly day by day. In fact, one of the outcomes of the region’s chaotic situation and the tensions is the publicity of the Israeli relations with Saudi Arabia as well as other regional countries. That the Saudis present this kind of behavior in dealing with Iran in the region and their behavior in Yemen, Iraq and Syria and running counter to the Axis of Resistance in the region, means that these measures are not limited to the Saudis but it is the Americans who are the principal designers of these scenarios, and in fact the Saudis are boots on the ground for the US, as unfortunately Turkey, Qatar and Jordan are part of the same front.
Alwaght: What consequences has this policy brought about for the region?
Qumi: Saudi Arabia’s and its supporters’ policies in the region have sent all of the region’s countries engaged in containing the terrorism and controlling their domestic situation and thus inattentive to the Israeli regime. In the current circumstances, the region is moving towards fragmentation, a process desired as a goal by the US and the Israeli regime. It is so dangerous that the terror group ISIS captures northern Iraq and Mosul province and then heads to Baghdad and finally announces establishment of the Islamic caliphate. Because the intended Islamic caliphate’s borders start from northern Africa and expand to eastern Iran, Khorasan region and southern Europe. This means a geopolitical redrawing. The Israeli prime minister proposes split of Iraq and voices support for independence of the Iraqi Kurdistan region, an issue showing that they are following the strategy of fragmentation.
Alwaght: Which countries are responsible for destabilization of the region?
Qumi: In fact, it was the triangle, comprised of the Americans, the Zionists and the region’s reactionary regimes, that has created ISIS. Afterwards, they have formed the anti-ISIS military coalition under the excuse of battling the terror group to actualize their goals. If needed, they would use ISIS in other geographical areas and places and under new pretexts. On the other hand, they have seriously entered in a fight against the terror group to prevent the Islamic Republic of Iran from rising as the leader of the counter-terrorism campaign in the eyes of the region’s public opinions and other countries. They could also drag Turkey in to the game of anti-ISIS battle. In such event, Ankara would receive the greatest damage, because it would face a severe response from ISIS.
Currently, the Americans are taking advantage from the chaos in the region. This could be interpreted in line with the goals introduced in 2003 by the US, according to which the Israeli security must be guaranteed. This process has commenced with military presence, occupation and regime changes in the region, especially in Iraq. Now the same process is pursued through destabilizing the region and involving the Muslim countries’ armies in battle with the terrorist groups. Actually, embroiling the regional countries in their internal issues would save the Israeli security.
Alwaght: In such a frame, what role do the Saudis take and what goal are they pursuing?
Qumi: What Al Saud is doing against regional nations’ interests, and specifically against the Islamic Republic’s, is part of a plan that the American and Zionist imperialism is following. The fact is that their goal is to involve the Islamic Republic, which is leading the battle against terrorism and is playing actively in the region, in other issues, including conflict with Saudi Arabia. In the intended proxy war, the plan is that Iran stands as leader of a front and Saudi Arabia stands a leader of the opposing front, a plot aiming at fueling the Shiite-Sunni disputes.
Alwaght: Do you think that the Saudis would enter in a conventional military battle against Iran?
Qumi: I believe that the Saudis are unable to launch a war against Iran because this conventional warfare would not be an air battle but it is a ground battle. Saudis share no land borders with Iran. The second point is that they do not have (strong) ground forces and the third point is that they are embroiled in two or in fact three battlefields, namely in Yemen, Bahrain and the internal front. Though the internal front has remarkably been contained, I think that it would gradually require more troops, therefore, they are incapable of fighting simultaneously in several fronts. But it is not unlikely that the naïve, imprudent, mean and mercenary ruling team fires missiles towards Iran at the others’ encouragement in a bid to engage the Islamic Republic in a confrontation with Saudi kingdom. In such a conflict, the Americans would not receive any damage, rather, they would benefit from it. The Americans do not need the region’s oil, but it is the security of their rival China, set to rise as the world’s largest economic power in 2020, that would be hit.