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Saudi Arabia’s Survival Depends on Iran-US Tension: Part 2

Friday, June 24, 2011

Interview with Seyed Mohammad Sadeq Kharrazi
Iran’s Former Ambassador to France and the United Nations

Q: Do you believe that Obama’s remarks are an outcome of such studies or are they connected to promise of change which he gave during election hustings?

A: Obama’s remarks should be divided into several sections. The first section was about parties involved in the conflict between Palestine and Israel. It includes relations between the United States and Palestine, US relations with Israel, relations among various Palestinian entities, relations between the Islamic world and Palestine and relations between Palestine and the rest of the region. The second part of his remarks is about the most important developments in the political history of the Middle East. Countries in this region have their own political history and the last important political upheaval was disintegration of the Ottoman Empire and emergence of new political and geographical demarcations. After that, there has been no other development in the Arab and the Islamic world to match the current developments in importance. Obama was alluding to these developments when he talked about the Middle East and we see that despite serious concerns about popular uprisings, the American policy is taking unprecedented turns. The third part of his remarks was about the power of the United States in the run-up to the upcoming presidential polls because for the first time, Obama managed to show off his country’s perseverance in fighting terrorism. Obama’s success in killing Bin Laden on the basis of intelligence alone proved that military invasion and blind bombardment of Tora Bora mountains have been in vain. He proved that with soft power and intelligence operations, bigger feats can be made possible. This has been a great achievement for Obama Administration before the forthcoming presidential election which has been scheduled for 2012. It has also been the most objective answer to Neocons that power cannot be obtained through war and crisis. It should be supported by soft power and intelligence. This was the feat which Obama managed to pull off dexterously and which Bush Administration failed to do.

Q: Do you believe that Obama is treating the case of Israel in the same smart manner which Americans claim?

A: Nobody can underestimate the power of Jewish and Zionist lobbies in the United States. This is why we must admit that Obama has shown a lot of courage in his latest remarks on Israel. Since President Johnson, no US president has dared to tell Israel to go back behind 1967 borders. This is very important. This is a great achievement both for Obama and the Palestinian state. The reason behind Barack Obama’s serial achievements is his good knowledge of social system in the United States and his awareness of his people’s demands. It is true that Obama is entangled in unrivaled power circle of Jews because economic and political power of the Zionist lobby is not limited to a religion or party anymore, but has subdued the world’s most powerful economy. It is also true that Obama is stalled by such considerations. However, when Obama gave his promise of change, he proved that he has a different viewpoint about domestic and foreign issues. I assure you that if domestic polls had shown that the American people were against retreat of Israel behind 1967 borders, Obama would have never raised that point in his speech. He knows that the American public opinion loathes Israel and is deftly playing that trump. I admit that there is a wide gap between people and the state in the US which is a product of media reports that are controlled by the Zionist lobby, but Obama has proven that he is ready to take as much risk possible when his election promises are at stake. He has announced that he prefers to be a good president for a single term, than an ordinary president for two terms. Despite that gap, he is well aware that American people are wondering why their government should pay the price of standing by such repressive and troublesome regimes as Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Q: So, the bottom line is that regional developments have only benefitted the United States.

A: Just look at Turkey’s relations with the United States under the present government and compare it with past secular governments. In what time have US relations with Turkey been more cordial? The United States is currently having the most cordial relations with Turkey in the region and the friendliest relations have been established with the United States under the present Islamist government in Turkey. Compared to past times, the government of Erdogan has promoted all kinds of political, security, economic and military relations with Washington. So, why we should think that downfall of dictators will be detrimental to US interests in the region. The United States is hailing the ongoing changes in the Middle East. When the United States talks about change, it assesses power on the basis of cost-benefit model. Obama is well aware that a real change in all domestic and foreign areas is the key to social and political conflicts.

Q: You mean that the United States has been managing current changes in the region?

A: No. I cannot categorically announce that the United States has been managing these developments, but it is successfully riding the tide. Perhaps, they have achieved what they were looking for since a long time ago; why they should not hail it now? The Americans ask themselves why they should support dictators which lack the smallest social base in their own countries. Why they should be ashamed before one billion Muslims for supporting tyrants? Studies carried out by the aforesaid centers prove that the highest cost the Americans are paying in the Middle East is the result of the gap between Washington and regional nations. Obama has found out that he can get closer to nations by supporting democratic movements. Regional dictators and sheiks had created a wide gap between the United States and regional nations for many long years and now uprisings in the Arab world have provided a window of opportunity and the United States is riding the tide. They have reached the conclusion that they have no choice but to promote democracy in the Middle East. In new terminology of the Middle East, the CIA, the US military, the Pentagon and political entities such as the Department of State, National Security Council and houses of parliament are open to change. All of them have welcomed Hosni Mubarak’s deposition. Hosni Mubarak had his own friends when in power, but none of them supported him when he had to step down. There are various methods for change. Some analysts reckon more on the military, but others put more emphasis on a parliamentary approach. Others, yet, propose different methods.

Q: You do not believe that the United States is managing changes, but what you say ends in the same conclusion. Don’t you think that this is a paradox?

A: Riding the waves of change is different from causing or managing them. I believe that the Americans have treated regional uprisings, especially in Egypt, quite smartly and have reached good results. They managed both the Egyptian government and the army in the best possible manner. The Egyptian army is under great influence of the United States and Americans did not allow the army to enter into political games. Therefore, people were left at the helm. Hosni Mubarak was told to quit power. The Americans managed protestors and political disputes have entered a very important phase. Now, even the Muslim Brotherhood is shifting from a jihadist model to a democratic one based on people’s votes and is looking to Turkey as role model. A recent meeting in Turkey was one of the most important meetings in which the Muslim Brotherhood has thus far taken. The role of some countries cannot be ignored in this regard. I think both Turkey and Erdogan have played a great role in steering regional developments and Turkey is now at the peak of its regional influence.

Q: So, you believe that everything is happening along the line of Obama’s change motto without him being in charge of the ongoing developments?

A: I draw your attention to some important points. Barack Obama swept to power with his change motto. He clearly said that he was going to reset the US relations with the Muslim world. Then he took his first foreign trip to the Middle East. He went to Egypt whose dictatorship is now in tatters. His first decisive words were uttered in Cairo. Look at the text of his speech and read it again. Look from what viewpoint he has talked. It was quite evident that a person like Fareed Zakaria who is well informed about the region or other people from various think tanks had prepared that speech. Don’t forget that reconciliation between Islam and the west enjoys special status in Obama’s doctrine. He believes that the United States is the main basis for that reconciliation. He maintains that the United States, not Europe, symbolizes the western civilization. Obama maintains that it is the American civilization which has the first say.

Q: There is, however, no guarantee that the result of Arab uprisings will be in line with the American policies. There is possibility that anti-American governments may come out of them.

A: Unlike most domestic analysts, I believe that the ongoing uprisings are originally against dictatorship, not colonialism. There have been few anti-colonialistic slogans in demonstrations.

This proves that people in those countries have reached through their ideology, the sense of identity or anything you may call, that dictatorship is keeping their countries back. They believe that the main problem with their countries is dictatorship and authoritarianism. The situation is now different from what it was 30 years ago. At present, every Egyptian blames his/her problems on Mubarak and his family-based authoritarianism, not foreign policy trends. Therefore, nations have reached the conclusion that forceful transfer of power to people, as has already happened in Afghanistan or Iraq, is no more possible and it is their responsibility to rise against tyranny and snatch the power.

Q: If the United States has reached the conclusion that there should be reconciliation between Islam and the west and that emergence of democratic regimes is more compatible with its interests, why it cannot get along with post-Shah Iran? Hasn’t Iran achieved democracy much sooner than the Arab states in 1979? Isn’t this a paradox?

A: The United States believes that the present unfriendly Iran can discuss its problems through dialogue. Just look what happened following 9/11. It is no exaggeration that collapse of Kabul or Baghdad would have been impossible without help from Iran. In the absence of Iran, no regional country could be secure. The present situation between the United States and Iran is the result of absence of correct mutual understanding. Have no doubt that Iran and the United States have common interests in a lot of regional issues. Another problem which should be taken into account is the benefit that some regional players seek in continued hostility between Iran and the United States. I think that Saudi Arabia can be only considered a powerful regional player when Iran is weak. They believe that an Iran which is constantly at odds with the United States is a weak Iran. Therefore, I believe that three major lobbies; that is, Zionist, Arab and anti-revolutionary, are incessantly fanning the flames of discord between Tehran and Washington and do not allow bilateral relations to become normal.

Q: But even in its current situation, Iran is a powerful player.

A: The Middle East has been regularly the scene of a game played by three legendary players: Iran, Turkey, and Egypt. The main issue is about entry of new players. Some parties are trying to enter the power cycle by intensifying the existing hostilities. The Zionist, Arab and even anti-revolution lobbies are trying to make Saudi Arabia and Israel believe that they are big powers, while this is not a fact. The main power belongs to the same three traditional players. Saudi Arabia can only play a role when Iran is cornered. Therefore, they do their best to weaken Iran. Even Israel can only play a role when those traditional players have been weakened. They believe that tension between Iran and the United States is a weakness for Iran. Israel has imposed its military power on the region. It is a baseless analysis which asserts that Israel and Saudi Arabia have something to say in the region. Look at Turkey. It has sided with revolutionary currents during the Middle Eastern developments. This clearly proves that Turkey is capable of reviving its past capacities to become a role model for other regional countries. Due to its geographical and political situation, Egypt cannot be erased from large-scale regional equations. Egypt is the heart of the Sunni Islam which has gone through three periods of modernism, nationalism and Islamism. It is now presenting a new model and you will see that its influence in the region will continue to rise. Even now that three lobbies have managed to keep tension in its relations with the United States and some European countries, Iran still enjoys special political, economic and geographical importance. Iran is leader of the Shia world and in collaboration with Syria and the Lebanese Hezbollah has expanded limits of its political and military power up to the Mediterranean. Iran has proven that it has all kinds of capacities to remain an unrivaled regional power. Now, you compare these three countries with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Saudi Arabia and Israel owe their power and status to support from big powers like the United States and without support from Washington, Saudi Arabia will be powerless. Even now, its power stems from the absence of Iran in regional power equations and chaos in Egypt.

Q: How the United States may have failed to notice this fact despite taking advantage of the sophisticated research system you referred to?

A: There are many conflicts among various think tanks and strategic research centers in the United States. Some of them are working on the US hegemony. There are many cases of opposing views and hundreds of books as well as thousands of articles have been written by prominent political and scientific figures as well as researchers and experts working with such official institutions as the State Department, the CIA, National Security Council and similar bodies. I believe that no US government has ever denied Iran’s transregional power and most of them have owned up to it. It is due to the extreme power of Iran that opponents of Iran have been able to deceive the Americans. Yes, don’t be surprised. The US administration can be penetrated and deceived like all other political systems. Following 9/11, Pakistani intelligence in collusion with Saudi Arabia managed to deceive the American intelligence bodies making them hunt for terrorists and Bin Laden in mountains, deserts and populous areas for about 10 years while they were themselves organizing terrorists and Bin Laden was living in their country. The aforementioned three lobbies have been successful for years to deceive the United States political and security system about Iran. The Zionist, Arab and anti-revolutionary lobbies are deceiving the United States’ intelligence and information systems. Total failure for Arabs is the day when relations between Tehran and Washington are restored. It will be the day when Arabs are sure to lose everything. The powerful Arab lobby led by Saudi Arabia is constantly at work in the United States and Europe to erect new hurdles on the way of normalization of relations between Tehran and Washington. That lobby has stripped the American officials from decision-making opportunities. They are constantly warning the United States about Iran threat and do not let them think. Saudi Arabia is playing a destructive role in the region. Riyadh has made the most of every opportunity and even has availed itself of crises between Europe and the United States and welcomes any crisis which may provide more room for Saudis in the region. They will also love to see Iran engaged in a full-blown military confrontation with the United States.

Q: Is there a specific mastermind behind this plot?

A: Apart from Zionist and anti-revolutionary figures who have treaded that path for many years, the main mastermind behind this plot in Saudi Arabia is Bandar Bin Sultan. He is the main brain behind this plot that is totally attuned to the American Neocons policies. Bandar Bin Sultan seeks to ensure constant confrontation between Iran and Israel or between Iran and the United States and even between Iran and other regional countries. It is him who is trying to make the Arab world believe that Iran is more dangerous than Israel and supports any form of military threat against or even invasion of Iran.

Q: How come that Arab Spring has not reached Saudi Arabia yet?

A: Saudi Arabia is entangled in a kind of internal identity crisis. However, the ruling system prefers the power to rotate among the elites and tribal heads. The political structure in Saudi Arabia does not allow its people to play an active role. This is why Obama’s approach to Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia’s state approach to that system and even Iran’s approach to Saudi Arabia is based on retention of the status quo, though after making the most extensive reforms possible. A similar situation currently reigns in Syria. All regional and transregional players, including the United States and the European Union are opposed to overthrow of Bashar al-Assad due to many ambiguities that surround his possible successor. They believe that reforms in Syria should be spearheaded by Al-Assad because when he is gone, anti-west Salafi radicals will rise to power. The Baathist regime has managed, thus far, to rein them in. This is common position of both Obama and Erdogan.

The government in Saudi Arabia is faced with a population 70 percent of which still supports Bin Laden. In the absence of a central government and through an uncontrolled popular uprising, terrorism will get its hands on the wealth and power of Saudi government. In that case, not only regional security, but also international security would be at stake. This will shed more light on the role that Bandar Bin Sultan is playing. For many years, he has been convincing the Americans that Iran is a great threat to the region and the world and needs to be taken care of; and who would be more eligible to do that than Saudi Arabia? Therefore, Saudi Arabia has found a regional role for itself and has convinced the Americans to accept that role. As a result, Saudi Arabia has been defining a new role for itself both within and without its borders, which is to contain the Shia government of Iran. Bandar Bin Sultan is also guiding this manufactured political doctrine.

Source: Khabaronline News Website
http://www.khabaronline.ir/
Translated By: Iran Review

*Part 1: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Saudi_Arabia%E2%80%99s_Survival_Depends_on_Iran_US_Tension.htm

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