Saudi prince warns of war with Iran in 10-15 years

Washington - Saudi Crown Prince Bin Salman has warned that Kingdome of Saudi Arabia and Iran may indulge in war in the next 10-15 years if the international community fails to apply more sanctions to exert pressure on Tehran.

“If we don’t succeed in what we are trying to do [imposing sanctions on Iran], we will likely have war with Iran in 10-15 years,” he said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, this week.

It seems that KSA wants to exert pressure on the international community to put more restrictions on Iran. US president Donald Trump has expressed his desire to pull out itself from the nuclear deal with Iran on May 12, 2018. This has generated a debate in the international community. The deal (10 years) was considered as an assurance for regional peace and security.

The 2015 nuclear deal struck between Iran and six world powers - the US, UK, Russia, France, China, and Germany - was considered as foreign policy achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency. Other partners of the deal might show their less concern to remain consistent to deal. The threat of nuclear Iran will arise again in the Middle East. Iran might not compromise its nuclear program which it has frozen in the back drop of this Iran Nuclear Deal.

Iran might have no fears against restrictions for its nuclear program. Simultaneously, Crown’s remarks are relatively exerting more pressure on the US than Iran so that Trump dismisses its desire to pull out itself from the deal. If it happens, nuclear proliferation cannot be outlawed from Middle East. Afterwards, KSA, Egypt and other states will attempt to gain nuclear powers.

Sanctions previously imposed by the UN, US and EU in an attempt to force Iran to halt uranium enrichment crippled its economy, estimated the country more than $160bn (£110bn) in oil revenue from 2012 to 2016 alone. According to the deal, Iran stood to gain access to more than $100bn in assets frozen overseas, and was able to resume selling oil on international markets and using the global financial system for trade.

Trump has also taken the decision on March 29, 2018 that US would withdraw its troops from soon from Syria. This is a point of concern for the US allies: fighting against Bashar-ul-Assad government backed by Iran and Syria. If it happens, war may occur between two regional giants, KSA and Iran, because of any major misadventure or misperception. Without any political strategy or solution for Syrian regime, it will be difficult for the US to pull out its troops very soon.

It is not a new phenomenon that both, KSA-Iran have been religious, geopolitical, territorial disputes since centuries. They employ these disputes and follow proxy wars in the region to gain regional hegemony. But the recent US’ decisions (withdrawal from nuclear deal with Iran and of Syria) reflect that the US is out casting from the region. The international community largely approves of the deal and confirms that Tehran is sticking to its obligations.

It is stated in the Washington Post that Trump said, “Despite my strong inclination, I have not yet withdrawn the United States from the Iran nuclear deal,” Trump said in a statement. “Instead, I have outlined two possible paths forward: either fixes the deal’s disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw.”

Iran’s reaction

Responding to this announcement, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on January 11, 2018, “Trump’s policy & today’s announcement amount to desperate attempts to undermine a solid multilateral agreement.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi warned bin Salman - widely known as MBS - “not to dice with death” and called on veteran Saudi officials to teach the “delusional novice” of the fate former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein endured after he challenged the “Iranian nation’s resolve”.

Wahhabi ideology

In a recent interview with the US daily, The Washington Post, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman revealed that Riyadh had spread Wahhabi ideology, at the request of its Western allies to counter the influence of the Soviet Union (USSR) in Muslim countries, during the Cold War.

The powerful heir to the Saudi throne made the statement during a 75-minute interview with the Washington Post, on the sidelines of his first diplomatic visit to the United States since being named crown prince.

According to bin Salman, the Saudi-funded spread of Wahhabi ideology began in the second half of the twentieth century after Saudi Arabia’s Western allies urged the country to invest in mosques and madrassas overseas during the Cold War, to help counter the influence of the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

“Our allies demanded that we use our resources to accomplish this task,” Bin Salman said.

The Crown prince also admitted that successive Saudi governments have gone astray, and now “we have to get it all back.”

“Funding now comes largely from Saudi-based foundations,” he said, rather than from the government.

Wahhabism is an Islamic doctrine and religious movement, named after its founder, an eighteenth-century preacher, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab.

In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” broadcast last Sunday, the crown prince discussed a myriad of topics including his reform efforts at home, lambasting rigid doctrines that have long governed Saudi Arabia in response to the Iranian revolution in 1979, after which Saudi Arabia wanted to “copy the Iranian model.”

“Saudi Arabia was not like this before ’79. Saudi Arabia and the entire region went through a revival after ’79. … All we’re doing is going back to what we were: a moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world and to all traditions and people,” Bin Salman said.

“I believe Islam is sensible, Islam is simple, and people are trying to hijack it,” he told the Washington Post.

US troops in Syria

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wants the US military to maintain a presence in Syria, despite President Donald Trump’s declaration that American forces will be pulled from the war-torn country in the near future.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wants the US military to maintain a presence in Syria, despite President Donald Trump’s declaration that American forces will be pulled from the war-torn country in the near future.

The US maintains a remote base at Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria, in the middle of that corridor. It’s there that Special Operations forces coordinate with Syrian opposition fighters to wipe out the remaining ISIS fighters holed up in a series of towns along the Euphrates River and a stretch of desert straddling the Iraq-Syria border.

“If you take those troops out from east Syria, you will lose that checkpoint,” bin Salman said. “And this corridor could create a lot of things in the region.”

The Saudi leader made his remarks on Syria just hours after Trump told a cheering crowd in Richfield, Ohio that US troops will soon be pulled out. “By the way, we’re knocking the hell out of ISIS,” Trump said. “We’re coming out of Syria very soon. Let the other people take care of it now, very soon. Very soon, we’re coming out.”

Trump’s comments were a departure from the previously stated positions of senior Pentagon and State Department officials, who have said the US will keep troops inside the country to stamp out the last remaining fighters and prevent a new group from forming. An American service member was killed in Syria Thursday by an improvised explosive device, US officials said Friday. A total of 14 US troops have been killed fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria since the operation began nearly four years ago.

There are currently about 2,000 US troops working with Syrian Democratic Forces to re-capture territory from ISIS, which includes the militants’ self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa. ISIS is on the verge of defeat as a conventional military force. Although they no longer are in control of any major city in Iraq or Syria, the fighting is not over completely. But American forces are not inside the country to act as a counterweight to Iran, despite bin Salman’s wishes.

Trump’s recent appointment of John Bolton, who has been an outspoken critic of Iran’s regional dominance, as National Security Adviser may re-shape American foreign policy toward Tehran.

Backed by Iranian military aid and Russian airpower, Syrian President Bashar Assad has nearly defeated the Islamist-dominated rebel groups spawned in the chaos of Syria’s 2011 revolution. The insurgents still hold scraps of territory, but they have no hope of challenging Assad’s hold on power. As a result, Iran has extended its influence and reach inside Syria.

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