Rabat - Saudi Arabia and Iran are probably on the verge of yet another destructive war in the troubled Middle East. They are both vying for regional leadership and ascendance and initiating yet another episode of the religious feud between Sunnis and Shiites that dates back to the 7th century, by rekindling a long-dormant hatred.
Rabat – Saudi Arabia and Iran are probably on the verge of yet another destructive war in the troubled Middle East. They are both vying for regional leadership and ascendance and initiating yet another episode of the religious feud between Sunnis and Shiites that dates back to the 7th century, by rekindling a long-dormant hatred.
If this confrontation ever happens, it would certainly be the most stupid war of the third millennium because both countries will come out of it much weaker economically and politically, with no doubt, especially at a time when oil revenues are dwindling dangerously and the Western view of Islam is very negative, as a result of the ISIS horrendous terrorist attacks in Europe and America.
The image of Islam in the world is very bad, people around the globe are afraid of Muslims, even if they have been their peaceful neighbors and friends for ages. Fear breeds distrust and stereotyping and Islamophobia is the ultimate result of that feeling. So, a war between two Muslim countries will just strengthen further the stereotype in question, which will, then, probably become some sort of established truth universally.
The war is already on, by proxy
In principle, the war is already on between the two antagonists by proxy, almost since the advent of the Iranian revolution in 1979. In Iraq, the government is majority Shiite and is fighting the Sunni ISIS, which was, somewhat, created by Saudi Arabia to check the advance of Shiism in the Muslim world. In Syria, the Iranian-backed Assad regime is leading a bloody war against Sunni ISIS and Nusra and a myriad of military organizations, with the invaluable help of Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Lebanon, since the departure of PLO forces in 1980, has been under the mercy of the heavily-armed Hezbollah that is a deadly threat to Lebanon itself, as well as Israel and Sunni neighboring countries. The Shiite Houthis, armed and financed by Iran have overrun the legitimate government of Yemen and if it were not for the Sunni coalition, hurriedly put together by the Saudis, they would have controlled the totality of the country and become a persistent pain in the soft belly of Saudi Arabia. Following the advent of the Arab Spring in 2011, Bahrain, a Shiite-majority Gulf country, at the instigation of the Iranian government, tried to overthrow the Sunni monarchy, and if it were not, again, to the last-minute intervention of the Gulf countries’ armies under the command of Saudi Arabia, it would be probably, today, a client country of Iran, if not one of its territorial provinces.
Since the advent of the revolution in Iran, the Mullahs in power put the emphasis on the acquisition of technology and over the years they did just that, though they were under strict international embargo. They developed their military capabilities, especially ballistic missiles that threatened all their neighbors and still do, then they moved on to develop a national nuclear program, they said was for civil purposes, but which, of course, nobody believes.
Saudi Arabia, felt from the very start that the nuclear program was directed against it and the Sunni world it leads, by extension. Initially, it hoped that the United States would blast Iran, but, as time went on, it did not for multiple reasons, even if Israel itself did pressure its American ally for that but to no avail.
This inaction on the part of the Americans drew veiled criticism from Saudi Arabia and created a wedge between the two countries and this became more pronounced when an agreement was signed between Iran and the West on the issue of its nuclear program.
A war that nobody wants
The Muslim world definitely needs leadership badly but not in military might, the two countries are welcome to fight it out earnestly in the following areas:
Democracy and rule of law and order:
None of these two countries is democratic: they are religious oligarchies. Maybe, it is high time they should consider adopting a democratic system rather than hiding behind religious smokescreens of fabricated divine legitimacy. Soon, the rentier states they nurture will disappear and the disgruntled population would want freedom and democracy and nothing on earth can stop them from getting that.
Upholding human rights is respecting human intelligence and the right to full citizenship. All religions of the world uphold the value of respect and integrity of humans. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia have to stand by that and give human beings the right to live by putting an end to summary executions on religious, political or social grounds.
Women are an important human capital that is ignored in both countries, more on tribal grounds than religious teachings. There is an urgent need to liberate women from their patriarchal and tribal prisons and allow them to play an important role in their respective societies.
Recognition of the rights of minorities:
In both countries there are minorities, whether religious, cultural or other that live in total fear. Their rights have to be written in gold and respected totally. They ought to be considered as full citizens and not as citizens under permanent suspicion.
Eradication of extremism:
Islam today, is unfortunately branded as a religion of violence and extremism due to the gruesome terrorist acts of al-Qaeda, ISIS, etc. It is about time that both Saudi Arabia and Iran stop financing or showing support for it, if any, and giving credence to any violent extremist group and work, instead, on rebuilding the image of a peaceful and humanistic Islam.
Fight ignorance and poverty:
The Muslim world is rich, but, yet, poor because wealth is not evenly distributed. It is about time Muslim rich countries and Muslim countries with technological expertise get together and cooperate to fight need, illiteracy and backwardness
The Muslim world does not need a war now or ever between Saudi Arabia and Iran, nor does anyone, for that matter. It will just make things worse in a difficult region that is on the explosive edge. The best things the two countries could do is to sit together to discuss ways to clear up their misunderstandings and bad blood. The era of religious feuds and ideological wars is over for ever. The world today has gone global, it is not anymore about leadership, it is about cooperation, brotherhood of men and development. Saudi Arabia and Iran could both lead the Muslim world into that direction if they put their feuds aside and both fight energetically terrorism.
The Muslim world needs the West for its development; the West needs the Muslim world for its resources and human capital. Violence, whether physical or verbal leads nowhere, for sure. A person like Donald Trump, or for that matter, Marine Le Pen, or terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda and ISIS are all the same: they, one and all, exploit the fear of the ordinary citizenry. These people and organizations alike ought to be fought through continuous inter-faith and cultural dialogue and Saudi Arabia and Iran can both play a major role in that….if they want.
If this particular path is followed by these two key Muslim countries fears can be allayed in the land of Islam and the West and a new chapter could be started in good faith…
May 2016 be more peaceful than the year before…amen.
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