Thursday, March 22, 2012

"The Saudis are worried ...."

"... Analysts say Riyadh sent troops last year because of alarm that Bahrain had not contained protests that had the potential to spill over into the Shi'ite Eastern Province region, where major Saudi oilfields are located.
An opposition politician, who did not wish to be named, said Saudi Arabia now feared that the conflict in Syria, in which Shi'ite Iran and its ally Hezbollah back Bashar al-Assad's rule, could sharpen Bahrain's sectarian divide - detracting attention from Syria and firing up Saudi Shi'ites.
"The Saudis are worried (the stalemate) could push the Shi'ites towards Iran... and at what could emerge as a consequence of Syria," he said..... 
Unrest in the Saudi Eastern Province has flared again in recent months.
"The Saudis really don't need unrest in the Eastern Province right now," said Michael Stephens, researcher at the Doha-based Royal United Services Institute. "The policy priority for Saudi Arabia has been Syria for last three months."

1 comment:

William deB. Mills said...

If you put the pieces together, you find a Mideast puzzle that offers both a serious threat and unusual opportunity for Washington.

The Threat. Add up the situation in Syria, Shi'i Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and Israel and you have the following threat: if all the pieces fall wrong, and the tight linkages among the various Mideast factions make it likely that they will, all the Shi'a of the region could be up in arms simultaneously. Among other problems, that would not exactly facilitate Obama's reelection.

The Opportunity. But this all adds up another way as well, leading to the following opportunity: a bit of U.S. initiative across the board to address Shi'i grievances might significantly reduce the likelihood of the looming sectarian disaster. It is doubtful that Washington has the capacity to solve any of the various problems, but it now does have the ability either to turn the heat up or turn it down. Of critical importance is that it has the opportunity to respond rationally to the entirely rational Iranian offer, simply by saying, "I call your bluff." Washington has this opportunity now because the recently retired chief of Mossad Meir Dagan has just provided Washington with a very public blank check to tell Iran that "we" now admit that attacking Iran would not be the appropriate way forward, so therefore we are open to a negotiated solution that includes both nuclear transparency by Iran and national security for Iran.