Covering last week’s incident in Tehran, when the mobs forced their way inside the Saudi Arabian Embassy,smashing the building and setting it on fire, and stealing what they could get from the premises, which is protected by international law, the international media featured one Iranian man holding, very tightly in his hands, a set of home telephone receiver equipment,snatched from the embassy
Saudis then went on the social media, asking questions of their followers on Twitter, in what appears to be a public opinion survey. It introduced the questionnaire for example by saying: ‘Chose one of those three answers.
Do you want the Iranians to apologies for this act, rebuild the embassy at their expense, or just return the set of the telephone equipment that one of them snatched? It was really quite a passive and frivolous way to respond to the whole uncomfortable political situation.
However, it does reveal the deep apathy of ordinary Saudi towards the Iranian attitude — they look at petty ways to respond to political events, rather than facing the reality;instead of tackling issues in a manner more befitting of statehood.
For two decades or more there has been some sort of war by proxy between the Saudis and the Islamic Republic of Iran, those wars being in Syria, Iraq, and Bahrain, in a type of‘tit for tat game’.
But when the Yemen war escalated, and blood started to be spilled, things became very serious, and more like a ‘showdown’ confrontation. It looks as though the Iranians have decided to activate their sleeping cells in Saudi Arabia. A Shia cleric called Nimr Al Nimr started pushing his luck, although he has been active politically for a long time, but at a low level.
This time he publicly denounced the House of Saud using insulting names, and demanded the independence of the eastern province of Saudi Arabia, and even more to establish rule exactly like that in Iran, that is to say of the Wilayat Al Faqih, (GrandMullah Ali Khamenei).
The Saudis called the Iranian’s bluff, put the trouble-making cleric on trial, sentenced him to death, and then executed him with another forty-two condemned terrorists just before the end of 2015.
The Iranian strategy is to penetrate Arab countries using Arab agents, mainly Shias, either by exploiting the fears of their fellow Sunni citizen, or manipulating their affiliation towards their sects by various ways and means.
They have so called ‘fifth columns’ almost in every Arab country, especially their neighbours. Iran has at least twelve television stations podcasting in Arabic for Arab audiences, and it was reported that they spend between $10-15bn yearly to advance these policies.
The difference of opinion about the way the cleric was executed has been centre of the political arena between Saudi and Iran. The Iranian argument is that this cleric Nimr was not engaged in active terrorism, but only speaking his mind!
However, the Saudis see that his agitating activities have started unprecedented chaos and social upheaval on sectarian grounds, and that it looks as though the Iranians were preparing him for a role like that of Hassan Nasserollah in Lebanon. As the state of Saudi Arabia is currently at war by proxy with Iran in Yemen, and therefore with those found guilty, Nimr al Nimr was sentenced to death.
The Arabian Gulf government knew the intentions of the Iranian regime, but they had been gambling on the outcome of the ongoing internal struggle in Iran between moderates and revolutionaries. They were awaiting the day when wisdom would prevail in Tehran, and for the Iranians to act as a state rather than a revolution. It looks as though the nuclear deal reached on July 14th 2015 between Iran and the five main international powers,has flared up the internal conflict between the two factions in Iran.
The fundamentalists in Tehran read the wrong signal from the international deal- that they can now have a free hand to play havoc with regional security.
Tehran thinks that the Americans need, at this stage, a disengagement from the region, and the old alliances with the Gulf states which have lasted more than have century have come to an end or at least are not what they were. Because the Iranians are prevailing in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, why not in Yemen, and Bahrain as well?
The big fish is Saudi Arabia- if this state can be weakened, the strategist in Tehran thinks, other smaller states in the Gulf will fall into the hands of Tehran quickly and easily at a very small expense.
This has been the general strategy of Tehran, and it went on to put it into practice as it knew best, through a fifth column precisely in Saudi Arabia. Knowing now that the political confrontation has come into the limelight, it is no more a war by proxy. Either they can put all their cards on the table and try to solve it all at once in a very civilized manner, or they will face a prolonged antagonism. The latter has been practiced for the last thirty years or so by the Iranians with a very limited success.
We all hope that when most Gulf States and their allies have withdrawn their Ambassadors from Tehran, that the message will be loud and clear enough to be heard and understood by Iran,that their behavior has been unacceptable.