by Ghassan Kadi
In an article published in the Lebanese daily Assafir on 12th of March 2016 under the title of “Saudi Arabia paves the way for an Israelis war on Lebanon”, (1) the political editor sarcastically and mockingly made a comment to the effect that after the Arab League declared Hezbollah a terrorist organisation, it may formally ask Israel to engage in a war against it.
As a matter of fact, this is not a far-fetched possibility and more so, is increasingly becoming a geo-political “necessity”.
In December 2013, prominent analyst Sharmine Narwani, predicted that a “Security Arc” was on the rise (2). Taking all other outstanding articles that she has written into account, this one possibly stands out as her masterpiece thus far. I was privileged that I was asked by the author to translate it into Arabic. In that article, Sharmine predicted that the empire and its allies will sooner or later face a rising new alliance to counter their conspiracies in the region. She predicted that Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon (as represented by Hezbollah and allied forces) were going to eventually form a military alliance that will stand against terrorism, jihadi fundamentalism and the American/Israeli roadmap. Clearly, we can see this prediction coming to fruition. What Sharmine perhaps did not foresee was the Russian intervention in the manner and extent that we see today. In hindsight and in fairness, the magnitude of the Russian intervention was highly unforeseeable.
A lot has changed since the term “Security Arc” was coined, and the head of the serpent has already taken a jump and a skip.
Ever since ISIS took over Mosul and self-financed, it became clear to myself and many other analysts that we were seeing a major shift in the course of events. Whilst many others continue to promote the idea that ISIS is totally and entirely an American pawn that answers to American masters, the events on the ground clearly show that there has been at least a partial American–Jihadi divorce akin to the previous Bin Laden–American divorce. This time however, America seems to be wiping its hands clean and walking right out of this quagmire.
In his recent interview with Jeffrey Goldberg (3), President Obama made a scathing attack on his Saudi allies and other “free loaders” who want to drag America into regional wars that it is not at all interested in, in order for them to settle their own scores. Obama went further and bragged his decision not to attack Syria after all the bravado that followed the East Ghouta chemical attack of August 2013 and which was framed onto the Syrian Army. In reading in between the lines Obama is saying it for the first time to his Middle Eastern allies; when it comes to your sectarian vendettas, you’re on your own.
Certainly the issue of Israeli security will always be a soft spot for American foreign policy makers. At this stage however, the security of Israel per se is not an issue and any decisions made around it will be made independently.
As I have been reiterating for quite some time now, the “Anti-Syrian Cocktail” is a group of nations and organisations that were united only by their hatred for Syria and its President. Apart from that they had very diverse interests and goals. Given that America was unable to achieve its objective of toppling President Assad, it has no interest left in that war when it sees that the major players there have their own agendas. Also given that America clearly sees that the warring factions have scores that are centuries old and each party wishing to settle them on his own terms, America is literally walking out on many of its regional allies. The Iran nuclear deal was a part, a huge part, of this new understanding and revelation. It was not surprising then that soon after the Iran nuclear deal, Saudi Arabia pulled its own sleeves and went into Yemen; albeit to get bogged in. Obama must be gleefully saying thank God we didn’t get involved in that one as well.
In all of the above, Turkey was not mentioned.
Even though Turkey is a NATO member it was not allowed to free load and use its NATO-based clout to settle its scores with either the Kurds or what is sees as its Shia rivals.
Where does this leave Saudi Arabia, Turkey and to a lesser extent Qatar and the UAE? Without the direct support of America and NATO, those states that are run by Sunni zealots are going to find themselves out in the cold and hung out to dry. They will be in a desperate need to assert their military and regional geo-political superiority against the “Security Arc”. With America pulling out of the scene, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Turkey will have to, sooner or later, find a way to fill the void and forge a new alliance with a new partner, and there is none that fits the bill other than Israel. Only Israel shares their concerns and fears about the same regional opponent.
Saudi Arabia has been systemically talking about a forthcoming Shiite threat. Its involvement in the “War On Syria” is in essence instigated by this vision, and so is its more recent war against Yemen. For at least a decade now Saudi and Qatari funds have been flooding Sunni power bases and different media with anti-Shiite and anti-Hezbollah propaganda. From a popularity high after the July War of 2006 when Hezbollah banners were flown in major Sunni cities all over the Middle East, something that was seen as a serious threat by the Saudi royals back then, the Saudi royals have been able to brainwash and sway the minds of a significant percentage of the Sunni street.
In unprecedented speed and determination, the Arab nations have finally blacklisted Hezbollah. First, during an Arab Foreign Minister’s meeting in Jeddah in February 2016, followed by Arab Interior Minister’s meeting in Tunis in March 2016 and then last but not least, an Arab League Meeting that has formally declared Hezbollah as a terror organisation.
As mentioned in a previous article, the Palestinian Authority has endorsed the first two decisions, and since then has endorsed the third.
It is highly likely that the PA will finally receive its consolation prize and be given token statehood over a very tiny fraction of Palestine, thereby selling out Palestine, the Palestinian people and the right of return, in part of a bigger deal that will make Saudi Arabia appear to be the liberator of Jerusalem and the leader of the Sunni world in the hope that this will bolster its leadership and guise it with grandeur and might.
The Saudi camp Arabs have finally reached common ground with Israel.
The fundamentalist Sunni mind that Saudi and Gulf money has forged is one that sees Iran and Hezbollah as a bigger regional threat than Israel. The ground is becoming more fertile for a fundamentalist Sunni-Israeli alliance. The strategic “need” is already overwhelming, and the support of the masses is not very far away. Jihadi preachers will not find the task of providing “evidence” that Jews are closer to Sunnis than Shia a hard task to achieve. The fundamentalist Sunni street is quite ready for such a push. The formalisation of this alliance is only a question of time before it is overtly announced and before officials from both sides of the Abrahamic divide exchange visits, gifts, kisses and Ambassadors and before their armies fight together in the same trenches. In reality, however, this alliance is already in existence.