07.01.2016 Author: Viktor Mikhin

Saudi Arabia Tries to Secure its Leadership

544554Finally, enough time has passed for us to understand the reasons for Saudi Arabia so suddenly organizing a coalition of Islamic states against international terrorism. This news was initially met with incredulity when first released.

After all, a powerful coalition against terrorism is already in place, a coalition officially consisting of 65 countries that was created and is led by the United States. In addition, Riyadh is an active member of this coalition. Ever since the coalition was created, it has been actively involved in the “fight” against terrorism in Syria and Iraq. There have been some very sluggish and sporadic bombings of who knows what and who knows where. Currently, however, the terrorists of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra flaunt western uniforms and fight mostly with American weapons. It seems that everyone is happy.

But at this point in the fight Russia has become very effectively and actively involved. The bomb strikes carried out by the Russian Military Space Forces (MSF) have caused and continue to cause very heavy losses among bandits and terrorists. Additionally, a new coalition has arisen during this time that is fighting terrorists not merely in words but in deeds. This alliance consists of Russia, Iran, Iraq, and official Damascus. The leaders of the US-Saudi coalition were not happy about this new coalition and have begun criticising actions carried out by the Russian MSF, claiming their effective bomb strikes were carried out against the wrong bandits, the wrong terrorists, and the wrong opposition that was unsuccessfully trying to remove President Bashar al-Assad from power with American weapons in their hands. We would like to recall that he is the very President of Syria who was officially and legally elected by the Syrian people, but not by those in European and in a number of Arab capitals who eat out of the hands of Washington. In addition, terrorists financed by Riyadh and Doha have been bombed as well. “From December 18 to 23, Russian air group fighters in the Syrian Arab Republic made 302 mission sorties and destroyed 1093 positions in the provinces of Idlib, Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor, Hama and Homs,” Igor Konashenkov, Spokesman for the Russian Defence Ministry, said on December 24. Russian planes destroyed a terrorist training camp in the Syrian province of Idlib where there were fighters from Turkey and CIS countries.

It seems that Russia has taken the initiative from the US, who has determined to uproot terrorism in the Middle East. And in this case Riyadh, who has always played in the American team, has resolved to take the initiative. There are many reasons for this, and first among them is a pronounced initiative by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud,who has also decided to enter the cohort of the Great Powers and personally decide the fate of the people of the Middle East. First, as we know, a sort of coalition was created under the auspices of Saudi Arabia to fight against its friendly neighbour Yemen. It included mostly members of the Gulf Cooperation Council that possessed no power in militarily. Accordingly, this is why the fight against the Yemenis has not brought any rewards to the King! Moreover, having pulled themselves to their feet, the Yemenis have started firing rockets at Saudi territory. Sooner or later, however, the Yemenis will receive modern weapons and, given their long struggles and warlike character, they will be able to enter Saudi territory and to attempt to win back the disputed region on the border. The Saudis would then have nothing to do but run to their military bases under the wing of their American advisers. As it was reported by Fars News Agency on December 24 citing the Yemeni military source: “More than 50 thousand soldiers are ready to attack Saudi Arabia’s positions and to liberate major cities in the regions of Jizan and Asir. This operation will be implemented during the first phase of strategic options. Before this, the Yemeni army and people’s forces attacked the strategic military base in the province of Asir with a Kaher-1 ballistic missile.

Still, we should recognize King Salman, since he recognized a power vacuum in the Middle East and decided to fill it. The US, who overstrained itself in the region for several years, left the region without supervision. Moreover, US President Barack Obama has not sought to take action in the last year in his office.

Russia, which has always been committed to international law, cannot alone reverse the difficult situation and to put an end to international terrorism that is actively and continuously supplied with money from reactionary Arab regimes of the Persian Gulf.

Moreover, there is a number of countries demonstrating dangerous tendencies to take advantage of the moment and to fish in troubled waters. First of all, it is Turkey that just seized a moment and sent troops to the area of the Iraqi city of Mosul. The formal pretext was the fact that the Ottoman Empire dominated the Arab territories for 500 years, and the city of Mosul belonged to Turkey. But the main reason is huge deposits of “black gold” in the region. Realizing the futility of further attempts to throw its weight about Syria that is safely covered with air defence systems from the air and enforced with an air group of the Russian MSF now after the incident with the downed Russian plane, Ankara has shifted its military machine to a more promising (in terms of vulnerability) theatre of war.

It is only natural that Iraq has appealed to the UN Security Council with a request to take in hand the absolutely unbridled aggressor. But what can this international organization do? Turkey is a member of NATO, and the United States does not allow anyone to do anything against Ankara. If the initiative is launched by Russia, that has repeatedly tried to apply the rule of law in international relations, Washington, that barely remembers such a casus as the international laws, will block any our initiative in the UN Security Council, as it has been the case many time before. By the way, its Europe and other accomplices will help their transatlantic boss here, thus trying to beg another handout in US dollars.

Under these circumstances, King Salman decided to take the responsibility on his old shoulders and to create a collegial body to decide the fate of the peoples of the Middle East by the Saudi version. The establishment of the “Islamic military coalition” under the leadership of Saudi Arabia was announced on December 15 by the third man in Saudi Arabia, the king’s son and the Minister of Defence Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. According to Riyadh, the main task of the new coalition is the fight against terrorism. At the same time, the Saudi side has denied that the alliance under its leadership is Sunni. Based on the statements of the Minister of Defence, the purpose of the coalition is the fight against all forms of terrorism not only in Syria and Iraq. This is a much more significant project than just a coalition aiming to fight against ISIS in Syria or Iraq. By the way, no binding decisions will be reached in the new coalition, and all members will act as thesee fit.

In this regard, the political scientists have noted geopolitical goals of the new coalition, which does not exclude the fact that Riyadh is trying to liven the “Organization of Islamic Cooperation” in order to counter Iran. This thesis is indirectly confirmed by the fact that the Minister of Defence said that the members of the coalition were successfully acting in Yemen. Riyadh accuses Tehran that “its policy is the source of problems in Syria, Yemen and the cause of arising of the ISIS.” This fact once again confirms that the alliance was created against Iran. Indirectly, it can be assumed that the new coalition is also aimed against Russia, since Moscow and Tehran undertake joint actions, for example in Syria.

Establishing the new coalition of 34 countries has already caused scandals, since the leadership of a number of countries did not even know that they had been included in this organization. For example, the leadership of Iraq was revolted by the fact that Saudi Arabia did not notified them of the establishment of the “Islamic military coalition” through official channels, but instead called for Baghdad to join it using the media. “We have heard about the initiative to form an Islamic military coalition. However, how can one call to join the coalition through the TV channels? Iraq is at the heart of the Arab and Muslim world and it is one of the main fighters against terrorism. They should conduct a dialogue with Iraq just like they do with other independent states, “- Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq said, after the meeting with his Kuwaiti counterpart Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah. (Kuwait Times 23 December).

The recent steps of the Saudi King show his apparent inability to consider his actions on the global stage. As you know, money talks a lot, but not all, the more that the Saudi treasury is rapidly emptying because of incompetent actions of the present king. We can recall that Saudi Arabia and its people have no other significant resources besides oil. In addition, it can be assumed that the King is vigorously pushing his son to the royal power, trying to get round the legitimate heir Muhammad bin Nayef who, by the way, holds an important position of the Minister of Internal Affairs and who has temporarily gone into the shadows. But is it for long? In contrast to the past, the time is flying quickly in the Middle East, and the near future will put everything in its place in the whole region, and in the Saudi kingdom in particular.

Victor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook“.