The crisis in the Middle East and in Saudi Arabia in particular leads to further escalation in the region. Anticipating the collapse of ISIS, the participants in the conflict act with intensity.
Since our October 8 report on the issue entitled “The Saudi Purge: The Middle East Is On The Verge Of New War“, the situation has deteorated further in the region.
In Saudi Arabia, the purge continues. The Middle East Eye reports that senior Saudi figures were tortured and beaten in the purge under the banner of an anti-corruption movement, conducted by current Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He has overseen arrests of hundreds of people, including senior royals, ministers and tycoons, with some of them reportedly being tortured so badly during their arrest or subsequent interrogations that they required hospital treatment. Even Prince Bandar bin Sultan — Saudi Arabia’s most famous arms dealer, longtime former ambassador to the US, and recent head of Saudi intelligence — was reported to be among those detained as part of the purge. If confirmed, this will be the most significant and high profile case of this purge, even above that of high profile billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, considering Bandar’s closeness to multiple US administrations.
This comes amidst rumors that King Salman was set to make his son king. Speculation peaked when Al-Arabiya tweeted, then quickly deleted, details of the allegedly imminent Mohammed bin Salman’s ascension ceremony. The transfer of power from the King to the Prince would be merely a formality at this point, as Prince Mohammed already plays a key role in decision making at almost all levers of government.
The Crown Prince also accused Tehran of delivering missiles to Yemen’s rebels for use against the kingdom that he described as “direct military aggression”. The United States also chimed in and accused Iran of supplying the rebels with missiles. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is still in Saudi Arabia, with his movements reportedly controlled by the Saudis.
Meanwhile, an oil pipeline between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain exploded, with Bahrain accusing Iran of blowing it up. Israel is beyond itself with Iran and Hezbollah increasing their influence in the region and in Syria. The Israeli media even claimed that the US and Russia have reached an agreement, which would push Iranian-backed forces from an area close to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. However, these rumors have little with the real situation on the ground. In reality, it is highly likely that Iran is building a permanent military base in Syria. The only real solution which Israel has to limit the Iranian influence is a military action. The big question is how much this will cost?
The Arab League will hold an extraordinary meeting on November 18 at the request of Saudi Arabia to discuss “violations” committed by Iran in the region, with Saudi Arabia rumored to mobilize fighter jets.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah accused Saudi Arabia of encouraging Israel to attack Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, Mohsen Rezaei, said that the US, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel are planning a war against Lebanon.
Lacking a clear strategy for their involvement in the Middle East, Washington is forced to play second fiddle to its “allies”. Trump’s administration’s bold claims against the 2015 Iran nuclear accords and Iran in general only stir up the anti-Iranian block in the region. The conflict is developing in its own way, with the conflicting sides immersed so deep that it proves more and more difficult for them to stop even if they wanted to. Now, the sides are finalizing the coalition, which may participate in the expected conflict. No side can allow to show weakness, because showing weakness would be tantamount to admitting defeat.