Iran and Saudi Arabia to the Death

The news on most geopolitical analysts minds is whether Iran will back up their harsh verbal response to Saudi Arabia’s beheading of a Shiite Sheik with something more militaristic. At the end of the day, Iran has a small window of time to put the squeeze on Saudi Arabia. Right now, Russia shields Iran from any backlash thrown at them if they choose to be more aggressive. Mix in Obama’s dismal mideast policy, the ingredients are there for Iran to make a move.

Saudi Arabia also has a short time frame to flex their muscles. Iran is building a superior ballistic missile program and Saudi Arabia cannot afford to let the Persians stabilize themselves and grow into a true regional super power.

This Year is it

The next four to six months are key as Sunni Islam is on the defensive against a resurgent Shiite Crescent backed by Russian firepower.  Each side will grow more bellicose both in verbiage and actual actions taken. Already, Iranians stormed the Saudi Embassy in Tehran.  Expect much more.

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Iran will attempt to foment organic uprisings in the gulf allies of Saudi Arabia.  They will also stir trouble in the Shiite dominated Saudi Southeast and once again in Yemen. Saudi Arabia will continue to financially back ISIS and other groups. All of these steps seem to be leading to a head on collision will have an explosive and devastating effect on the region and quite possibly the whole world.

The Israel Factor

So how does this affect Israel? With the government seemingly dozzy with the growing intifada, the real danger is are threats piling up on the border. Although Saudi Arabia and Israel are not freind in the slightest, in terms of Iran they are tactically ready to work together.  Look for more intelligence sharing as well as overt military maneuvers to increase. If there is a move towards open war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Israel may take direct action against Iran, that is if they don’t have their own flank to defend.


Israel Behind the News [Dec 22, 2015]

Iran warns Turkey: Don’t renew ties with Israel

In the Islamic world deals with Israel are akin to making deals with the Satan.  Iran is trying to paint Turkey as a collaborator with Israel and anti-Islamic. Turkey may or may not follow through with the gas deal, but Iran is not a consideration to them, energy is.

Nasrallah says Hezbollah will Retaliate for Samir Kuntar’s Death

Nasrallah may opt for confrontation against Israel in the form of infiltrating the North  His operative capabilities have been smashed by ISIS and while it is true that he possesses lots of missiles direct conflict will bring him ruin.

Iran pulling Revolutionary Guards out of Syria

The real story behind this is the strategic leverage Iran loses with Russia.  Russia wanted to use Iran as its ground army, without it, Iran has little value for Russia other than keeping quiet.


Putin Has the Israel Weapon

The question isn’t whether Putin helped Israel kill Samir Kuntar, it is why Russia aided Israel in attacking one of the leaders of Iran’s terror squads against Israel. Putin had to be in on the operation since the deconfliction mechanism between Israel and Russia force compliance on both parties in air sorties over either Northern Israel or Southern Syria.

Analysts and pundits across geopolitical divide have wondered the extent of Russian and Israeli partnership. Some passed it off as a necessary evil on the part of Israel and others hailed the change in strategic trajectory for Israel.  It has not been clear.  The Kuntar assassination clears most of the guessing up.  If there was a doubt that Israel and Russia were not developing a robust partnership that is now gone. Once more the rapprochement between Israel and Turkey has not had any effect on this growing partnership between Russia and Israel.

Putin Does Not Trust Iran

Putin has never ascribed to Iran’s goal of establishing a Persian controlled Middle East. Russia would like to be in control of the region in as far as the oil and its military bases are concerned. A strong Iran provides Putin with a serious challenge down the road.  The problem is that Putin needs Iranian troops and ground support in Syria so he does not repeat the Russian mistakes of Afghanistan in the 1980s.  Right now because he has placed very little Russian soldiers into the fray, he is receiving huge support from the Russian citizenry.

While Russia needs Iranian troops, it does not need Iran exploiting the partnership in hopes it gets an edge up on Israel.  Putin knows a cornered Israel could create a far bigger problem.  Russia is also receiving advanced intelligence from Israel on ISIS positions.

Israel is Checking Iran for Putin

Putin, always the master chess player allows Israel to check Iran’s positions so he himself will not have to do it. The trade is that Israel allows Putin use of its airspace from time to time and offers intelligence for Russia’s campaign. Essentially, Israel is acting as Putin’s short leash on Iran. Iran has no choice but to follow along.  After all it is piggy backing on Russia’s involvement in saving Assad and pushing back on Turkey.

In an odd way Israel and Iran serve as both tactical spokes in Putin’s regional strategy as well as balancers between them.  Putin may not be interested in any grand peace deal the way Foggy Bottom has always been, but Putin does want regional order as he brings the Russians back into a global leadership position. If reports are to be believed Iran has significantly scaled down their ground involvement in Syria from it once was. Iran may have been helpful and still may be, but only as a tool to Putin’s grand strategy and nothing more. Checking Iran by way of Israel seems the best way to assuring that.


Cornering Israel…

With Kerry getting Obama to back off insistence on Assad’s ouster, the world continues its slide into geopolitical chaos.  Of course at first glance, Assad offers the kind of stability Syria needs and it was precisely trying to oust him which caused so many problems.

For the USA who is on a not so slow retreat, allowing Russia, Iran, and Syria to provide stability to the region seems logical.  The problem with this sort of stability is that Israel’s arch enemies will maneuver themselves into strategic positions along side the Jewish state.  Assad might bring stability, but that means Israel will be under serious threat.

Can Russia be Trusted?

I have written extensively on the fact that Russia does not want to upset the stability in the countries that are in fact most stable. It is clear Putin is not trying to put us into a tight spot, but he has some conflicting partnerships: Assad, Iran, and Israel. It is true the deconfliction mechanism lets us destroy heavy arms bound for Hezbollah, but the idea that Assad’s permanence means Iran gets to stick around is not something any of us want to see.

The prevailing thought is that Putin will hold the Ayatollahs on a short leash.  There is something to this, but the prospects of an emboldened Iran are not good.

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We Are Expendable

At the end of the day, the world is search of some sort of order. It is true we are light in a dark region, but nations can be erratic in times of chaos. Right now the transition is only beginning and Israel is doing its best to hedge its bets on who will come out on top.  It is clear Russia makes a great case on why we should move into their orbit, but if they cannot reign in Iran then it may be far more dangerous than going it alone.

Some Positive Developments

Despite many of the troubling signs flowing from the chaos in the Middle East, Israel’s ability to have a working relationship with Russia and covertly helping the Kurds to move their oil show we have some versatility in grappling with the complex challenge we find ourselves in.  By rolling with the changes and making partnerships based on strategic value, Israel can make it through one of the most chaotic times the Middle East has seen.