Russian President Vladimir Putin (L), Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani attend the Expo Center before the opening ceremony at the Expo Center at the fourth Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit in Shanghai on May 21, 2014
Back in March, I wrote an article which analysed how the well (or not so well) Saudi Arabia’s newly formed “Coalition against Terrorism” was performing. It was initially hailed by the western world as a senior Muslim Arab country (Saudi Arabia) leading a united stand of Muslim countries against ISIS and all other ‘Muslim Terrorist’ organisations.
I am sad to say that the list of radical Islamist terror groups runs long; Boko Haram, Al Shabab, Al Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban are just a few of the big name fanatical brand names that lead a legacy of death and destruction to the world but mostly to the unfortunate countries they inhabit. The Saudi defence minister and crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman admitted as much in his announcement back in December.
“There are a number of countries that suffer from terrorism, for example, Daesh (ISIS) in Syria & Iraq, Terrorism in Sinai, Yemen, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan which requires a strong effort to fight”[i]
Also due to be targeted (perhaps more dominantly prioritised by Saudi Arabia) the Shia Hezbollah of Lebanon, the Houthi tribesmen of Yemen and anyone else who Saudi Arabia considers to be “Iranian-backed”.
The New Coalition
The Saudi defence minister Prince Mohammed Bin Salman announced the creation of this coalition back in December 2015, I wrote my article in March 2016, was it too soon to analyse and criticise as I did? With almost a year gone since its formation and the half way point long passed, now seems like an ideal time to once again consider scrutinising the Saudi coalition’s progress. I was initially planning to wait until December 2016 before publishing my final draft, however, something surprising has happened which has propelled me into action.
Not only has the Saudi-led Coalition slumped in its efforts to achieve even its most basic objectives but a second and much more imposing rival coalition have evolved, making the Saudi’s cultural war sword look more like wet spaghetti in comparison. The new coalition backed by Iran, Russia, China[ii], even India and now possibly Turkey are all lining up to join!
China recently announced that it will up its involvement in the Syrian war by stepping up personnel training and humanitarian assistance to President Bashar al Assad’s Syrian government. Syrian President Assad, after meeting the Indian minister, said: “India has a role to play in meeting the challenge of terrorism”
So let’s get this straight, if China now offering more physical support and military support to the Syrian Army, if you believe what Russia’s Igor Morozov, a member of the Russian Federation Committee on International Affairs, who said a Chinese aircraft carrier, the Lianoning, and a guided missile cruiser were heading to the area.[iii]
That means that Assad now has 3 major world superpowers all helping to keep his government in power in defiance of the US & Gulf strategy to oust the Assad government by backing the rebel groups which Assad calls ‘Terrorists’.
That means the Chinese, as well as India, have decided that the Assad, Iranian and Russian definition of Radical Islamist terror threat is genuine, much more genuine than the Saudi’s definition.
Who Are The Real Terrorists?
The Saudi’s coalition boasts a large list of countries which it claims are all eager participants, however, Malaysia, Lebanon, Pakistan, Indonesia and India all questioned or openly refused their admittance to the Saudi’s coalition.[iv] Many of the other countries included such as Djibouti, Benin and Libya are all questionable as they lack any type of sophisticated army or intelligence agency to offer much aid to any global anti-terror operations.
The Iranians and the Saudi’s have long disagreed on who are the real terrorists in the region. Saudi classes almost any group or government which has any connection to Iran as terrorists, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Hash Al-Shaabi in Iraq and even the Yemen’s Zaidi Houthi tribesmen have proven that[v].
Iran, however, puts a greater emphasis on groups which threaten global security such as ISIS, Al Qaeda and other Salafist/Wahhabi radical groups such as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (The militant group formerly known as The Nusra Front) in Syria as the biggest concern for the region and the globe.
Both Iran & Saudi Arabia have a long history of engaging in proxy warfare, the difference, however, is Iran has direct communication if not complete control over its funded proxy allies, Saudi Arabia does not. The Shia Islamist militia’s active in Iraq, Lebanon & Syria pose no threat to the west, they are compromising and restrainable.
The Salafist Islamist terror cells around the region are neither compromising nor restrainable, they seek to cause death for the sake of death, suicide bombing is a preferred method of a Wahhabi holy warrior, they purposefully target a non-military target, which is not the case with their Shia adversaries. Countries like China seem to realise this, as is perhaps Turkey.
The Turkish U-Turn
The latest surprise new member of the Iranian’s coalition is Erdogan’s Turkey. Turkey has performed a major U-turn in their policy towards Syria in recent weeks. Rumours are now circulating that not only has a deal involving Russia, Iran & Turkey been agreed on Syria but Erdogan may also be warming up to the idea of building a new bridge between Ankara and Assad’s Damascus.[vi]
If all the rumours are true, Turkey would be the first Sunni regional power to join the Iranian coalition model, something Iran are very eager to materialise.
While this new coalition continues to grow with new superpowers joining Saudi’s coalition is hardly mentioned, the only action it has taken so far is to blacklist Hezbollah, execute a peaceful Shiite political activist Ayatollah Nimr and bomb the poorest Arab country in the region to buggery, killing hundreds of children in the process and evoke massive international condemnation against it involvement in the Yemen. Not something world superpowers would like to be a part of.
Rumours have jumped from a joint Turkey-Saudi invasion proposal on Syria now to a possible joint Turkey-Syria alliance against the Syrian Kurds and D’aish. So now we must ask, what is the future of the region?
And most interestingly, with the Saudi-led regional policies in such a decaying mess and its ‘Islamic Military Alliance’ worse than useless, what will the west’s foreign policy for the Middle East look like in the next 10 years if we continue to throw unanimous support behind Saudi Arabia?
[i] Reuters in Dubai (Monday 14 December 2015 23.18 GMT) Saudi Arabia announces 34-state military alliance to fight terrorism, Available at:http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/14/saudi-arabia-announces-military-alliance-terrorism
[ii] Darius Shahtahmasebi via theantimedia.org (2016) New Russia-China-Iran Alliance Could Push the US out of Much of the Middle East, Available at http://www.anonews.co/russia-china-iran-alliance/
[iii] ROB VIRTUE (PUBLISHED: 07:36, Thu, Nov 19, 2015) Putin’s boost in battle against ISIS: China preparing to ‘team up with Russia in Syria’, Available at:http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/610286/China-preparing-to-team-up-with-Russia-in-Syria-Boost-for-Putin-in-battle-against-ISIS (Accessed: UPDATED: 07:58, Thu, Nov 19, 2015)
[iv] Press TV (Tue Feb 16, 2016 8:17AM) Malaysia says not involved in Saudi ‘anti-terror coalition’, Available at:http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/02/16/450592/Malaysia-Kuala-Lumpur-Datuk-Seri-Hishammuddin-Hussein-Saudi-Arabia
[v] Matthew Levitt (March 10, 2016) Behind the GCC’s Terrorist Designation of Hizbullah,Available at:http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/behind-the-gccs-terrorist-designation-of-hizbullah
[vi] Eric Zuesse (26 August 2016) Turkey’s New Relationship with Russia — and Assad,Available at:http://www.globalresearch.ca/turkeys-new-relationship-with-russia-and-assad/5543006