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04 January 2016

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johnf

The US seems more displeased with the Saudis for the mass executions than with the Iranian reaction:

"U.S. fears Saudi tensions with Iran could affect fight against ISIS

Administration officials were privately critical of the Saudis for provoking the weekend’s upheaval with the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Saudi Shiite cleric who was arrested two years ago and sentenced to death for fomenting dissent against the ruling Sunni royal family.

“This is a dangerous game they are playing,” said a U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about U.S.-Saudi relations. “There are larger repercussions than just the reaction to these executions,” including damage to “counter-ISIL initiatives as well as the Syrian peace process.”"

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-fears-saudi-tensions-with-iran-could-affect-fight-against-isis/2016/01/03/bb71eff4-b268-11e5-a842-0feb51d1d124_story.html

alba etie

CP
It will be interesting to see what exactly how KSA & Turkey step up the support of ISIL . IMO the ground is shifting strategically against the Liver Eaters & their erstwhile supporters. I believe further that we will see more cooperation between the US & Russia & EU to bring about the real political solution to Syria- the one that leaves Assad in power & the Liver Eaters , Ankara, & Riyahd further isolated . Further I believe that if push came to shove with KSA & Iran that Turkey if it gets involved in that shooting war will face a very resolute Russia - after all in this context Iran would be in Putim's mind his Near Abroad .

MartinJ

CP

I think that these executions are more about internal House of Saud politicking rather than a direct attack or message to Iran. Yes, the secondary effect is to rile the Iranians but its more important for this Boy Prince to establish his anti-Shia credentials against all of his internal opponents in the ruling family.

The prince is currently losing in Syria and losing in Yemen. This type of provocative execution is just what is needed to shore up some much needed public support.

confusedponderer

MartinJ,
if you're right and it was just domestic polticking then Prince "Reckless" must have either not expected such a reaction in Iran or assented, approvingly (as in: billigend inkaufnehmen) to the likely consequences of the execution. That, or he is just thrashing about wildly.

He'd be bumbling on all the same.

As for the necessity for the prince to shore up his credentials, you're probably correct. The young man is well short of successes.

Beyond that, the killing of this sheik can be fairly called a state murder given the extent to which his trial was rigged and star chambered. And then some the charges ... "disobeying the ruler", "inciting sectarian strife" and "encouraging, leading and participating in demonstrations". There is reason for outrage.

And from a utilitarian PoV the Saudis probably have not done themselves a favour by making al-Nimr a martyr to the Shia cause.

turcopolier

All

If the Saudis want to fight Iran, the US should stand back and watch. pl

ex-PFC Chuck

Per the UK's "Independent," Bahrain and Sudan have now also severed ties with Iran.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/middle-east-live-iran-accuses-saudi-arabia-over-diplomatic-deadline-a6795226.html

Old Microbiologist

Personally, I have considered the Saudi's to be the ultimate enemy of both the US and the Western world since 1973. Instead of fostering better relationships with these miscreants we should have toppled that government in '73 in response to the embargo. Perhaps there is a growing impetus to finally overthrow this kingdom. It certainly looks promising. Isn't a fairly substantial part of the (poor) population in these countries made up of Shia? Anyway, I agree with PL, let the slog it out together and watch from the sidelines. My money is on Iran.

Petrous

Yet, the thing of it is Bahrain is not much more than a quasi Saudi province or at best a dominion state, where FP is dictated by the Saudi who have propped up the regime and oppressed majority Shia opposition using troops they sent into Bahrain a few tears ago. So counting Bahrain separately is a double count of sorts. Anyway the UAE, on cue has also downgraded diplomatic relations with Iran as well.

Matthew

ex-PFC: In other news, AIPAC supports Israel.

Kooshy

“it was stupid in the extreme for the Iranians to not have guarded that building better.”

Cp

My understanding is that they needed to let some of the steam out ( I think pre-election cost benefit was calculated in reducing hardliner’ pressure)) , if not it will blow out the cap. It is many years since the Sunnis, are blowing up Shia all over ME on daily bases, it is the Shia top clerics who are keeping a leash on their constituencies to not retaliate in kind, or this thing will be moved to an open street level sectorial war. That’s what the Saudis want and have been paying for all these years, that was the reason for the execution after Syria and nuclear talks. My take is Iranians knew this was a tool to be used and they were very ready for it.

confusedponderer

Kooshy,
whatever domestic goals Iran was or wasn't pursuant of, Iran is obliged under international law to protect embassies from that sort of violence. As the ICJ put it in the case of US Diplomatic and Consular Staff in Tehran:

"[t]here is no more fundamental prerequisite for the conduct of relations between States than the inviolability of diplomatic envoys and embassies ..."

Article 22(2) of the Vienna Conventions is explicit and clear on that point as well:

"2.The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity."

Even so, the duty is one of effort, not result. If they protected the embassy appropriately, and the damage occured anyway, the Iranians were compliant.

The Saudis appear uninterested in this and assume Iranian government authorship, likely for histrionics and reasons of momentary expediency.

The bad part is, given Iranian politics and their history of actions against embassies, the Saudi assertion is at least plausible and may be right. Not that that absolved the Saudis from any of their own dumb actions.

I can only watch these folks in exasperation.

Charles Michael

There are about 15 % shia in KSA,roughly 4 millions, mostly poors and in the East and that where some major Oill fields are.

73 embargo was largely a comedy KSA had previously agreed on the petro-dollar substitution for the gold-dollar (71 +) against renewed support from USA: providing (selling) arms and accepting KSA investments in US (specialy buying Tresor bonds). The greatest achievment of Kissinger, I must say.

Babak Makkinejad

This is correct and I think a government whose security services is so keen on rigorously enforcing Hejab Laws cannot be pleading innocence in this case.

Even friends of Iran are exasperated at times by these kinds of behaviors - which - by the way - is unpopular. Iranians understand all that about diplomatic immunity and protocols etc.

Significantly, during the Iran-Iraq War each country maintained an embassy in the other's capital; there were no attacks on the Embassy of Iraq in Tehran during those 8 years.


eakens

What is the likelihood that the US would begin to pivot away from KSA and towards Iran? Certainly the nuclear deal would indicate a desire. A war between SA and Iran will certainly also provide provide for the destruction of the military hardware the Saudi's have acquired, which seems to be a requisite occurrence when alliances are changed.

Not that Russia or China would risk a nuclear war for the Iranians either, but other than Pakistan is there any nuclear power that would put its finger on KSA should the USA decide the Saudis have overstepped their bounds?

Kooshy


Ex-CIA official: Iran "acted responsibly" on Saudi Embassy arson
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ex-cia-official-iran-acted-responsibly-after-saudi-embassy-attack/

rakesh

not impulsive but well thought out plan to draw US into bombing Iran . will Iran be smart enough to decline to take the bait until all sanctions are lifted?

gemini33

Now that the holidays are over, work on the Syria peace process will ramp up again in preparation for the next big meeting (supposed to happen in just 3 weeks). The Riyadh conference was supposed to produce a strong rebel opposition team and it was celebrated but most people whose opinion I respect thought it was a big failure.

So they don't have much to bring to the table from that angle and the progress by the R4+1+? coalition looks really strong at the moment which means they don't have as much as they would like to bring to the table from that angle either. The clock is ticking. They can refuse to agree on the list of terrorists or refuse to show up at the table but presumably some rebel groups will show up. Would Lavrov & Kerry try to go forward with the groups who do show up? I think the Saudis, Turks and Israelis are desperate to derail the talks and that is the major factor in the latest provocation.

The combination of derailing a peace process and pounding a neighbor with bombs also just seems very familiar, like the kind of strategy one of KSA's strange bedfellow allies (plus the neocons) would advise. I've seen the comments on social media from people in Yemen about renewed bombardment in Sana'a over the past few days. One person said it was the worst since early Sept. I've also seen some comments by apparent KSA shills saying the peace process is doomed, doomed.

I also read that Israel has massed some troops in the Golan and are shelling southern Lebanon because Hezbollah and the Syrian army + allies used the recent heavy weather (fog and snow) to their advantage in southern Syria and supposedly Hezbollah used snowy weather to place an IED near an armored Israeli patrol. Israel also says they're keeping a close eye on the lower Golan area where a rebel group who they say are ISIS affiliates (Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade) might launch a terror attack on the Israel as Baghdadi warned in his recent speech.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4746476,00.html
http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/198587-israel-shells-south-lebanon-after-blast-in-shebaa-farms

It seems like someone might want to create reasons why some more Hezbollah and/or Iranian guard are needed at home because of the flare ups, heightened threat and therefore leave the battlefield in Syria.

Anyway, for what it's worth, those are my recent observations and thoughts. That list of factors by Col Lang was great, really clarifying.

confusedponderer

That would be good news then.

Babak Makkinejad

I do not think so. Please see below - and read the comments as well:

http://www.fardanews.com/fa/news/478684/حضور-تشریفاتی-نیروی-انتظامی-مقابل-سفارت-عربستان-وقتی-نقش‌ها-درست-ایفا-نمی‌شود-واکنش-دیرهنگام-مسئولین-امنیتی-به-یک-اتفاق

http://www.fardanews.com/fa/news/478513/واکنش-شتابزده-و-احساسی-به-اعدام-شهید-شیخ-باقر-نمر-سفارت-عربستان-در-شعله-های-آتش-سوخت-گزارش-تصویری-و-فیلم


Bandolero

eakens

If I may give my opinion: I think a "pivot from KSA and towards Iran" would be like doing the 2nd step before the 1st. The first step would be something like an even distance approach, or like so-called realists may call it: offshore balancing. Applying a strategy of "offshore balancing" regarding Iran and Saudi Arabia seems to have for quite some time now some influental proponents in the US:

https://www.google.com/search?q=offshore+balancing+Saudi+Iran

Regarding Pakistan, the were good advised if they would not expect Pakistan coming to their help in their dispute with Iran. See eg The News: Pakistan to stay away from S Arabia-Iran imbroglio

http://www.thenews.com.pk/print/86302-Pakistan-to-stay-away-from-S-Arabia-Iran-imbroglio

Kooshy

CP
I thought more violent protest (against KSA) would have come out of Lebanon, since is less expensive there, using proxies, besides Saudis couldn’t afford to close embassy there, but I think Syed Nasrollah didn’t. go for that. Considering the circumstances.

Kooshy

Babak
Farda News is an outlet on the side of reformers ( specifically Rafsanjani clan), what would you expect they write up. What would you think what the conservatives demands are, and how to contain it, when there is an election coming up. I think the report is correct that they let them make some seen ( apparently the embassy was empty and no one got injured) and then arrest 40, and condemn the attack and the mobs. That is the reason I think it was a calculated pressure release.

Babak Makkinejad

BTH:

For Your Information:

http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1114.html

oofda

Off subject, but of note- the head of the GRU (Russian military intelligence), Colonel-General Igor Sergun, died suddenly yesterday.

https://inmoscowsshadows.wordpress.com/2016/01/04/the-unexpected-death-of-russias-military-intelligence-gru-chief-igor-sergun/

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your comments.

That might be so but the Iranian government has a duty to protect embassies - unlike 1980 where there was no proper government.

What is this? Round-up a bunch of hot-heads and give them instructions to go attack the Saudi Embassy?

Like they did with regards to UK Embassy?

Truly deplorable.

The majority of commentators, it seemed to me, also regretted the incident and expressed exasperation at the actions of the "anarchic elements".

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