by Amir Taheri
Two weeks ago we saw the Iraqi Prime Minister Maleki heading to Iran to seek its support for a new government. The press has reported that he was rewarded after months of behind the scenes discussions with Al Sadr and Iran. Last week we saw Ahmadinejad with cheering crowds in Lebanon. Then we saw "brothers" one from as far as South America Hugo Chavez hugging the Iranian President in Tehran. Chavez took the 3 days to give the West a big fat 11 finger wave (11 agreements signed mostly in oil, gas, and petrochemical in the areas that Europe and the US promised to sanction any country that invested in Iran). It almost seemed like there is just too much going on in Tehran these days as the Prime minister of Armenia and the president of Bolivia both arrived in Tehran on the same day. Iran's Vice president picked up the Armenian guest and Ahmadinejad made the courtesy to meet the head of state traveling the farthest, President Evo Morales of Bolivia. In between these state visits, Ahmadinejad squeezed in two phone calls with the Saudi King. Apart from the great photos and opportunity to show publicly Iran's regional power, these two conversations with the Saudi King are what probably was the most important thing that has happened in the last couple of weeks. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz is reporting that these calls have been about coming to an understanding between the two countries on how to split their spheres of influence in Iraq and Lebanon. As it seems that both in Lebanon and Iraq, Iran's star is rising and Saudi Arabia's millions invested have had no returns, Saudi Arabia is coming to the realization that it is better to come to an agreement with Iran before losing completely all influence in these two countries.
It seems though that something surprising happened. Europe and the US have been pushing Saudi Arabia for the last 2-3 years to pull Syria away from its alliance with Iran. Countless promises have been made by both the European, US, and recently the Saudis for billions in investments opportunities and to bring Syria into the "civilized world" of nations if it complies. As these have all been rejected by Syria, the surprising thing that is still playing out before our eyes is that it seems with Ahmadinajad's picking up a phone and calling the Saudi's last week the Iranians have been able to turn the tables on the West. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has seen the cards that have been played in Lebanon and Iraq and with President Assad meeting the Saudi King in Riyadh two weeks ago, what might have been happening then was the Syrians pushing the Saudi's into an agreement with Iran instead. This doesn't mean that we will see an alliance between Iran and Saudi Arabia happening any time soon but it is for sure signs of improvement in relations ahead. The words of a Saudi recently interviewed by Al Jazeera seem almost foretelling of the future "Iran is not the enemy, Israel is the enemy," the head of the Center for Strategic Studies in Saudi Arabia declared in an interview with Al Jazeera. An American spokesman recently claimed Iran is becoming more and more isolated day after day. Iran isolated? Ask the Iraqis, Venezualians, Armenians, Lebenones, Bolivians, Saudis, and Syrians what they think after only the last two weeks.