This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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The big news of the day is the probable Iranian attack on the Saudi oil production facility. The President has tweeted about it, and pundits are discussing what possible military actions the US could take. While these are important questions, what’s being missed is the next step.
The Middle East is very quickly turning into a hotbed that could result in a new Cold War. On one side is Iran, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. On the other is Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Egypt and to a lesser extent Israel. Thus far on the sideline (and frequently playing both sides) are Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Tunisia. Yemen is fractured due to its civil war which has Iranian and Saudi backers.
Of course, many of these tensions are ancestral and religious. They are Sunni vs Shia. Persian vs Arab. They go back hundreds of years. It represents the religious centers of Jerusalem and Mecca/Medina opposite of the cultural center of the Euphrates.
Egypt Signs a Peace Agreement
The new rift, and the reason there’s a possible Cold War on the horizon, dates back to the Camp David accords. On paper, it was Egypt and Israel signing a peace agreement. Many of the Arab nations have followed the Egyptian’s lead. Sometimes begrudgingly, as with Saudi Arabia. Other times as a necessity of self-preservation, as with Jordan.
The Camp David accords guarantee peace, provided the US sells military equipment and aid to Egypt and Israel. It has gotten many other countries to follow suit and tie in diplomatically. One country which has refused is Iran, and its leaders have led the way to fight against the accords. Iran is supportive of ISIL whose name (the Islamic State In the Levant) was an indication of their goal: to create a Caliphate (religious theocracy) from Persian to the Mediterranean.
Caliphate Was Always the Goal
This has been the goal for many Muslims since the 1200s. Now look at the countries supporting them. Iran, Lebanon, and Syria are fighting for that goal. What they don’t have control over is a major religious center. That’s why Iran’s hatred of Israel has ramped up in the last four decades, while Jordan, Egypt and Saudi have nulled.
Note: the Saudi Government/Royal Families position has softened unofficially, while not officially having diplomatic relations. To control Jerusalem would give Iran a position of religious power in the Islamic community. Iran sees nuclear weapons as the best way to make this occur.
The Saudi’s and UAE, though they have had enough money to have attempted to enrich Uranium, have signed non proliferation treaties. They have been content to honor them provided a regional power doesn’t seek nuclear weapons. Iran is now considered a regional power, and they are seeking them.
If Iran continues to seek nuclear weapons, it puts KSA and its partners in the position of seeking them in order to prevent their destruction. When those details become known, Iran’s provocation becomes much more meaningful to the world. This is the first steps down a very dangerous path. It is yet to be seen if the administration’s pressure on Iran will yield results.