Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A New Persian Gulf

By Nader Uskowi

Recently I wrote a post titled “Saudi Call to Arms.” The subject was Saudi prince Turki Al-Faisal’s call on Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states to transform GCC into an EU-type union, with unified armed forces and its own nuclear weapons. I argued that Prince Turki’s call should be taken seriously, as serious and thoughtful as he has always been. Since Turki’s speech, the GCC has in a dazzlingly rapid pace showcased a newly found willingness to actively intervene in the events affecting the region.

Today, Qatari Mirage and F-16 jets are actively engaged in the Libyan conflict. Qatar has recognized the rebel government and has started importing oil directly from the rebel-held territories. Kuwait is expected soon to likewise recognize the rebels as the legitimate government of Libya. In Bahrain, Saudi troops and UAE security forces have entered Manama to quell people’s movement and to preserve the ruling royal family. In its latest session, the GCC blasted Iran’s “flagrant interference” in the region. Iran, on its part, called GCC’s actions the result of “Western and Zionist” conspiracies.

Suddenly, the GCC has found a new voice and is putting its money where its mouth is. This is a far cry from the six-nation union that preferred to remain behind the scene. A new GCC is creating new dynamics in the Persian Gulf, and is putting everyone, and especially Iran, on notice.

“The (GCC) will no longer be passive observer but active participant in regional events,” said Mishaal al-Gargawi, a leading political commentator in Dubai. “It is putting pressure on Iran by saying, the game has changed and we are here and the balance of power is different now.”

A Kuwaiti commentator, Nasser al-Mutairi, said the GCC member states must move beyond “routine protocol statements” and challenge Iran directly.

The move is full of risks, however. Hostility between the GCC and Iran can turn into an ugly sectarian conflict; something neither side can afford. Iraqi premier Al-Maliki raised the red flag this week by warning about that very possibility. But it is becoming increasingly clear that GCC’s hard line toward Iran, backed by readiness to use force in the region, is the new normal for the Persian Gulf.


Anonymous said...

But Nader, this is nothing new and remarkable, and very small potatoes compared to certain of these states roles during the Iran-Iraq War, pumping tens of billions of dollars into an actual war against Iran, while RSAF F-15 fighter planes on at least one occasion engaged IRIAF F-4s, heavily damaging one in BVR combat and forcing it to crash land back into Iran.

In light of that history, I suggest you observe how much more powerful Iran is today, especially with sister-country Iraq positioned at its side, against these US-propped pipsqueeks and their GCC. That's what's really remarkable.

reader said...

AIPAC would not allow the creation of a gulf superpower that one day, may pose a threat to Israel.

Paul Iddon said...

The situation in Bahrain and the other Emirate states I think is going to be very interesting to watch over the next few months.

Just last week Saudi officials said that they supported the western no fly zone over Libya to mute US criticism of the current situation in Bahrain [1]

Bahrain may become the front of a cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, something I doubt the Bahraini opposition will be happy about

Gifted one said...

Nice article Nader, but the GCC against Iran? Really? Saudi couldn't help it's allies in Lebanon, and Syria withstood solid Western pressure only with Iranian help. Not to forget that in any sectarian/political divide the Iraqi govt would be in the Iranian camp.

Kind of reminds me of when puffed up little Georgia, delusional on American training, and Israeli arms, with a friendly Bush administration in DC, thought that they could take on Russia.

Regarding the GCC's chances, i'll quote that great political scientist Mr T, "I pity the fool".

Alborz said...

The Nato action against libyasems to be ineffectiv and a flop

maybe the great poerrful Qatar Airforce can chang it.

Leopersica said...

To Anon 1:02pm
Having lived for several years in GCC i havedifferent view point from you .
It becomes significant when you compare these bold statments to much more watered down statements they issued in the 90's and the last decade .
I think all agree that moderate arabs (as the Americans and Israeli put it ) had a very hostile attitude towards Iran back in the 80's apart from the insident you mentioned there has been active and numorous engagments in military operations against iran I can name Kuwaities allowing Sadam's forces to mount attacks against Iranian Positions from its Boubian Peninsula or use of airbases in Saudi arabia or AWACS support for the bombing raids against iranian Shipping in the persian gulf not to mention killing of 400 Iranian Citizens in Mecca and egyptian Jordanian Pilots flying Sadam's Mig's.
we all know this and so does the iranian policy makers.
I see it a remarkable and significant move ,one that to my opinion would inflict more damage to the gulf arabs than the Iranians !!Ironically.

Iran Can Exploit the new oppotunity to divide the cooperation council even more .

let's not forget that GCC despite it's control of more than 20 percent of the worlds known Energy reserves and enourmous financial power it has not been able to act as a political or financial block.

yes they do stamp a unilateral support for UAE claims over the Iranian Islands in the Persian gulf but the hypocracy of this statement is visible when you understand that all of these sheikdoms have teritorial disputes with each other .
Oman vs UAE (Fujairah) vs KSA(Al gharbiya)
UAE vs ghatar (al gharbia) vs KSA(Leewa reg. )
Kuwait vs Saudi Arabia (neutral zone)
Kuwait vs eragh (boubian)
Yemen vs Oman (Zuffar) yemen Vs KSA (Jibbal)
this is just one example the list continues with ghatari opposition to eachand every practical KSA political move via Al Jazeera and Oman investing Heavily in iranian Gas Reserves.
and not exhaustive but finally GCC's monumental failure in forging uniform Monetary policy and financial structure.

In fact the GCC block is as imaginary as the countries forming it as theywere created by a draftman sipping coffee and sitting in Chrystall Hall London.

If iran Choses the right policies it can very well draw an end to the entire setup gven the fact that these countries have no legitimate goverments rulling their lands especially Bahrainand KSA.
there is much to benefit iran in more stupid moves from the cancer battling costodian of the holy sites in KSA and his corrupt and bruttal family.

Anonymous said...

The Saudi's should not be underestimated:

1.They have serious ballistic missile capabilities:

2.They have a modern airforce .

3.Almost all of their MBT's and APC's are post 80's.

4.They have a huge budget.

Babak Doriani said...

At this moment the Saudi's feel very vulnerable: mubarak is gone, houthi rebels have taken over northern yemen,and there is civil unrest in bahrain.But i still don't think there will be a direct confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia . If there will be a war , it will be fought by proxies (i.e. lebanon,bahrain,yemen). The smaller GCC nations should watch their steps and not get involved .

Anonymous said...

iran political climate this year complately differend than last years would be more aggresive and much profund right to the point to accumplished all point of political need in pg country and african country on my view the field of egypt will be opened to developed intire infrastruction of egypt to become real forces in the midle east country for real that will benefit egypt people and iranian political based and anger west which may not seen what will be comming to them the last speach of supperaim leader it was to the perfection that open the road for egypt and all muslem country to be united for those leader trap in the hand of west that may shake intire midle east african and even europian country for revolution, facing in rapped decline of usa political pressure in 2011 and 2012 dispide of all itis much absorbed china and iran turky ,brazil,will grow strongly in ecconomy benefit and political gain on all front.

vulcan933 said...

their govt system is endanger species and that is why they have to cooperate each other to preserve the system.

Anonymous said...

Nader, please be realistic,rather than blaming Iran and its policies. The so-called GCC is nothing by itself. It is strutting on US/UK and Zionist backing and regional strategic agenda. These corrupt Persian Gulf Arab petro-pimpdoms are an extension of the old pre-1971 imperialist order. The combined local bedouin population of the GCC lapdogs is less than that of metro Tehran. The Qatari Mirage 2000 and UAE Block 60 F-16F that you mention are flown by Pakistani and western mercenaries. These western installed Arab regimes are mere tools of US imperialism. Iran has behaved with a lot of restraint. Any war in the Persian Gulf would be the end of the west too as 40% of the oil and energy infrastructure would be destroyed and the conflagration will spread from Maghreb to Pakistan and beyond and will turn into a real endless war. Perhaps, the suicidal US/Zionist agenda is to go for broke as all dying empires do.

Nader Uskowi said...

The subject of this post is the GCC, not Iran, and GCC's newly found voice and actions in the region. I did not compare Iran's military power with GCC's here. I did say however that we are dealing with a new GCC. The Saudis and the other sheikdoms were always reluctant to voice their preferences, let alone engage in military actions in a country that is not even in their own region, namely Libya. Their hostility aside, they were also always reluctant to challenge Iran openly, they have started doing that now, and in a strong unified voice. Even during the first years of Iran-Iraq war, they were very guarded in their statements. But this is GCC 2.0 we are dealing with.

For the students of international relations these changes are important. We cannot pass over them by usual slogans. As matter of fact, we would not need any analysis of any sort if we follow some of the comments here: GCC is nothing, Iran is strong, end of story, no need for any discussion. I doubt that the Iranian military and the country's senior leadership think that way. I believe Iran is watching the new realities on the ground very closely and have taken note of the changes coming from the other side of the water.

Most of the comments here directly or indirectly are about another subject matter: can the new GCC pose a real threat militarily to Iran? I ask Mark and Paul to comment on this/post their thoughts. I also invite any of our commentators who care to contribute a post on the subject to email us and we will publish it here: nuskowi at gmail dot com.

Many thanks for your comments. they are key to enrichment of this blog's contents.

Anonymous said...

Mr Nader, I believe a war between KSA and Iran is increasingly unavoidable, it is something the neo-cons have planned for quite sometimes. The dictator in KSA now understands that the only way he can survive is by confronting Iran militarily, neo-cons in tel aviv need only to push the right buttons for this to happen in June.

Anonymous said...

In the Pahlavi era of Iran. Iranian jets were also taken from time (without permission)to time by the Americans and flew over to Vietnam... killing a few and coming back.

Qatari and other Persian gulf states are not exception. they are only bunkering the extras of western armies at their own expenses.

I am confident, that in 5 years from now Saudi Arabia and the rest of the bunch will not be existent.

Irans star has started to rise and is rising, now regardless of a few falsified /magnified bullshit of news against Iran.

Leopersica said...

Nader ,
I could not agree more.
a military confrontation is off topic and in fact unrealistic !

we can discuss the reasons later.
the changes in KSA tone has a definitive reason behind it Prince Naif of house of Al-Saud.

He is not unknown to Iranian policy makers ,as the head of Mubathath (Saudi Interior ministry) in 1987 he over saw the crack down of hajj pilgrims in 1987.

an ultraconservative member of Sudairi clan he has come out of obscurity the growing illness of his half brother King Abdulah in the recent years.
His previous reign of power in saudi policies between 1978~1995 had remarkable similarities to todays tone of hostility towards Iran.
a quick look at the wiki-leak cables reveals his name as the man behind the famous quote "cut the Serpants head "
Fortunately he is no friend of the west either .
Almost all sources close to newcons name him as the man behind financing Wahabi schools in Indonesia Pakistan and Afghanistan
a scheme drawn to keep Al Qaida out of KSA.

its a practice UAE has been using for thirty years now ( I was always wondering why Dubai bikini expats never get bombed in broad daylight in the heartland of Islam).

almost immediately after his rise to power the activities of madressa's in Iranian Sunni provinces has quadrupled.
Golestan ,baluchestan and Hormozgan provinces being the prime targets.
Noor TV ( a wahabi mouth piece broadcasting in kurdish ,urdu,persian etc. was launched under his excellencies patronage in 2007.
He was appointed second deputy prime minister in Saudi administration in 2009.
a controversial move that made him one step closer to absolute power in Saudi Policies.
there is a real danger in escalating sectarian violence if hardliners in both countries start to move their paid mercenaries in any territory.
another reason why current American Policy makers have no clue what havoc they are bringing to the region by siding with the Saudis and refusing a rapprochement with Iran.
so thank you Mr Gates ,once again you have proven all
Texans are true Wahabi believers.
jazak Allah khair ,Bobby.

for further readings "the Shia Revival" by Vali Nassr

Anonymous said...

Nader, it is rather disingeneous to look at the current geo-strategic dynamics in the Persian Gulf and ignore the key reason behind the US created GCC and the militarization. It was no coincidence that this collection of oil rich imperialist installed sheikdoms and corrupt monarchies came into existence right after the Iranian revolution and the military dimensions under the "Peninsula Sheild" took hold as part of CENTCOM strategy to "check" Iran in 1984 when their stooge Saddam was under pressure from Iranian military and the war was being fought on Saddam's turf and Iraq's defeat at Iranian hands looked certain.

The US created the GCC and its military aspect with two "Saudi" (Pakistani, Egyptian and Baluchi mercenaries) brigades and a smattering of Persian Gulf Arab participation. The main military manpower for the "Peninsula Shield" which is currently suppressing the Shias in Bahrain and Saudi oil-rich eastern provinces was provided by mostly Pakistani mercenaries under an agreement between the House of Saud and the then military dictator of Pakistan, General Zia-ul-Haq ( a Suadi Wahabbi clone responsible for creation of the Jihadi mess in Af-Pak to fight the Soviets under US/CIA aegis).

The mere existence of GCC and arming the Arab puppets in the Persian Gulf was part of the greater US hegemonic strategy of securing the oil supply and checking growing Iranian revolutionary influence. So separating the the very reason d'etre of the GCC from Iran is very naive.

Interestingly, even in the current Bahraini unrest the foreign minister of Bahrain ran off to Saudi Arabia and then Pakistan to seek intervention and military assistance in supressing the majority Bahraini Shias right after meeting Robert Gates. Also the aid dependent charity case government in Islamabad quickly pledged support to the Saudis and their fellow Wahabbi surrogates in the Persian Gulf. A Pakistani brigade was dispatched to Bahrain in Saudi guise.

The major nemesis of US policy makers and Zionist lobby remains the Iranian bogeyman. However, the unrest in Egypt has somewhat unsettled US and the Zionists and now they have focused on creating a Shia-Sunni divide in the region. However, an outright military confrontation between Iran and GCC is highly unlikely as the its overall impact would be more ruinous for the US and long term survival of the Zionist entity.

Recently the US has speeded up the training of Saudi military and expedited arms sales. Almost a 1000airforce personnel are being trained in Texas, Utah and New Mexico in air combat and combined arms operations. However, the quality of the Saudi forces remains doubtful and there is a lot of US backlash by rednecks at the presence of such large number of Saudi military personnel, their wives and servants. (see story in Al-Jazeera).

Anyway, this whole new power dynamics in the Persian Gulf is part of US strategy aimed at curbing Iran and the "Shia Revival" and the rise of the Shia Crescent from Beirut to Bahrain. With Egypt out of the military equation, the new US focus is on the militarization of the Persian Gulf to prop up tottering monarchies and sheikdoms as long as oil lasts. Libya is a sideshow by the French and UK to secure their own little gas station. However, the military ineptitude of the Anglo-French and impotence of NATO is matter for another discussion.

Anonymous said...

Iran may be everything but you have to give them a great deal of credit for their show of restrain and maturity in all this mess.

Iran has a great deal of interest in what goes on in Bahrain and the fact that Iran hasn't been physically(militarily) involved shouldn't be underestimated.Something must be going on behind the scenes that we may never know.Iran's strategy is that of playing "the long game".

At the moment, the PGCC states have done a great job at discrediting themselves in the eyes of the whole Arab world and proven themselves to be truly US stooges by their illogical and ill conceived actions in Bahrain and Libya. The house of Saud have manage quite well, without Iran firing a single shot, to get in the bad books of the Arab street. The question on the streets is, if the PGCC states can militarily involved in Libya and Bahrain, why didn't they do anything to help their fellow Arab Palestinian when they were being pounded by uncle Sam's favorite son(Israel)???

America's short sighted strategies will not go unanswered. Iraq, after having seen what the Saudis are doing in Bahrain will definitely be on Iran's side of the fence as any alliance with the Americans open them up for greater Saudi destabilization and meddling.Syria is also a bit fully booked at the moment with the latest "staged" protests in that country but will definitely be reviewing their ties with Washington after pentagon Supremo openly called on the Syrian army to "defect"(in other words, stage a coup) and join the protesters.

Maliki will never commit suicide by extending US forces stay in Iraq - another blow to the Saudis. In short, America's arrangement for the region is crumbling faster than thought and are doing anything to preserve it.

In sum, the "New Persian Gulf" will be a much hostile place for all US backed leaders, especially the PGCC.

Anonymous said...

NO war shall happen betwen the Saudis and Iran, even if Israel pushes the buttons.. USA wont go for it.

Saudi Arabia has 14 specific areas that needs missiling and the whole global economy would fall apart.