Suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the Iranian parliament and the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran on Wednesday, killing at least 12 people in a twin assault which Iran's Revolutionary Guards blamed on regional rival Saudi Arabia.
Islamic State claimed responsibility and released a video purporting to show gunmen inside the parliament building. It also threatened more attacks against Iran's majority Shi'ite population, seen by the hardline Sunni militants as "heretics".
Saudi Arabia denied any involvement, but the assault further fuels boiling tensions between Riyadh and Tehran as they vie for control of the Gulf and influence in the wider Islamic world. It comes days after Riyadh and other Sunni Muslim powers cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of backing Tehran and militant groups.
They were the first attacks claimed by Islamic State inside the tightly controlled Shi'ite Muslim country, one of the powers leading the fight against IS forces in nearby Iraq and Syria.
Iranian police said they had arrested five suspects over the attacks and the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, struck a defiant tone.
"These fireworks have no effect on Iran. They will soon be eliminated ... They are too small to affect the will of the Iranian nation and its officials," state TV quoted him saying.
Khamenei added that Iran, which is helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fight rebels including Islamic State fighters, had prevented worse attacks through its foreign policy.
The powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps accused Riyadh of being behind the attacks and vowed to seek revenge.
"This terrorist attack happened only a week after the meeting between the U.S. president (Donald Trump) and the (Saudi) backward leaders who support terrorists. The fact that Islamic State has claimed responsibility proves that they were involved in the brutal attack," a Guards statement said ...
A U.S. citizen fighting for ISIS surrendered to U.S.-backed fighters in Syria, two U.S. military officials confirmed to Fox News on Thursday.
It was not immediately clear where or when the surrender took place, but one official said it occurred in northern Syria in an area controlled by a U.S.-backed militia called the Syrian Democratic Forces. The SDF is a Kurdish and Arab army that has been fighting ISIS.
The man was not immediately identified and it was not clear where he was being held.
Col. Ryan Dillon, a U.S. military spokesman for the coalition against ISIS, would not comment on the surrender. Dillon deferred to the State Department on the issue.
The U.S. military command told the Daily Beast they were aware of the report.
“We are aware of the report that a U.S. citizen believed to be fighting for ISIS surrendered to Syrian Democratic Forces on or about Sept. 12," the command said in a statement. "As a precondition for Coalition support, SDF and Iraqi forces have pledged to observe international laws and the laws of armed conflict. Foreign fighters who are captured or surrender to SDF partners in Syria will be safeguarded and transported humanely, and their home nations will be contacted regarding the next steps." ...
How Britain fell for Saudi Arabia’s reforming Crown Prince
Mohammad bin Salman is just 32, and already he is redefining the kingdom for a new generation
11 November 2017
There are two ways of seeing the extraordinary rise of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince: the blood-stained debut of a new dictator, or the long-overdue emergence of a reformer with the steel to take on the kingdom’s old guard. The British government is firmly in the second camp.
Mohammad bin Salman is just 32 years old, and his effective seizure of power means he defines the kingdom for a generation. He’s seen in Whitehall as a history maker, whose ruthless impatience might not only liberalise his country but create an alliance with Israel that could change the region.
Minsters talk about MbS (as he’s known in Whitehall) with admiration and awe. He recently laid on a trade fair, and the British delegation was amazed to hear a band playing upon arrival at the airport. They were then taken to a room where men were sitting next to unveiled women, with none of the usual intermission for prayers. ‘It was like we’d got off at the wrong country,’ says one official. MbS is talking about various investments: new cities built from scratch, a 30-mile bridge being built to the Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheikh. Deepening alliances with several countries, Israel included. There is even hope, in Britain, that the Saudi-Israeli alliance could pave the way for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
Dictators quite often make such noises to extract concessions from a gullible West. When Colonel Gaddafi disposed of chemical weapons that no one knew he had, Tony Blair flew off to Tripoli with businessmen offering trade, cash and military training. Gaddafi’s son Saif was hailed as a young leader at Davos. Libya carried on imprisoning and torturing opponents, and found out that the West doesn’t mind if you talk about reform.
But the calculation in Britain is that MbS is different. It’s thought that he’s motivated by consolidating his personal power and by economic concerns. The oil money is running out, and Saudi Arabia needs new sources of income. MbS has been heavily influenced by Mohammed bin Zayed, the 56-year-old Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, who has acted as his mentor. He has shown how quickly an economy can develop if the reforms are right.
So far, the Saudi Crown Prince has been defined by action rather than words. Women will be able to drive in June next year, a huge challenge to the clerical establishment. The religious police, who made sure men and women didn’t mix, are no more. The sexes are beginning to drink coffee, jog and ride bikes together. Cinemas are expected to open next year. Just as the Wahhabis sought to rule the kingdom by controlling the culture, so Mohammed bin Salman is making his reign felt by culture — turning Saudi Arabia into Salman’s Arabia.
To the British, it all makes sense. As one senior official puts it, ‘He’s pro-women, so he’ll have half the population on his side.’ Perhaps more: he’s a millennial, and likes to point out that 70 per cent of his fellow Saudis are under 30 years old. ‘So we will not waste 30 years of our lives dealing with extremist ideas,’ he said last week, ‘we will destroy them today.’ This is not the language of accommodation. And it’s almost inviting an Islamist backlash, in the nation that produced most of the 9/11 hijackers.
The Crown Prince is frank about the risks, saying his country’s youth bulge is a ‘double-edged sword’. Young Saudis, he said, can create a new Saudi Arabia if empowered ‘but if they go the other way, they will bring destruction’. By his own admission, it’s quite a gamble. But one which the British government, such as it is, fully supports.
The Saudi Arabia-Iran War Escalates
by Austin Bay
November 7, 2017
On November 4, a U.S.-made Patriot missile intercepted an Iranian-manufactured Burkan H-2 short-range ballistic missile as its warhead plunged toward the international airport outside Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's capital.
Though the missile was launched from Yemen, with good reason Saudi leaders called the attack an act of "aggression" by Iran. A human rights organization said the "indiscriminate" missile attack was "an apparent war crime."
Under any circumstances, the missile attack signals that war between the Sunni Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran's Shia Islamic revolutionary regime is escalating and their proxy war in Yemen will become more intense.
Iran covets Saudi oil fields, but this fight is not all about oil. Historical enmity is a factor. Both governments confront serious domestic challenges that create internal instability. Iran apparently believes that at this moment in time it is positioned to exploit Saudi domestic weaknesses -- but that remains to be seen.
Since the fall of the Shah of Iran in 1979, Iran and Saudi Arabia have confronted each other across the waters of the Persian Gulf. The presence of the U.S. naval forces in the region still deter overt Iranian military action in the Gulf.
Iran's Shia regime, however, is expansionist. The ayatollahs seek to control or influence Shia Muslim communities globally, but particularly in the Middle East.
The Iranian regime concluded that the 2011 Arab Spring revolts and the U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq in December 2011 created a regional power vacuum. For different reasons and in differing guises Iranian involvement in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon expanded, but it expanded nonetheless.
Yemen was the launch site for the November 4 SRBM because Saudi Arabia and Iran fight a "proxy war" in that miserable land.
Arab Spring chaos in Yemen presented Iran with a target of opportunity. In 2011 a revolt forced Yemen's president Ali Abdullah Saleh to cede power in early 2012. Vice-president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi replaced him. In 2014, Houthi militants seized the capital, Sanaa. In 2015, they dismissed Hadi and took over Yemen's government.
The Houthis are a political-religious movement led by the Shia Muslim Zaidi sect. Though the movement has Sunni followers and does not theologically align with Tehran's zealots, Shia Iran began providing the Houthis with weapons, advisers and intelligence. Houthi power within Yemen increased.
If the Houthis dominate Yemen, Iran is on Saudi Arabia's strategic rear, positioned to destabilize the House of Saud along a land frontier. The Saudis could not permit that. With the aid of the U.S., the Saudis formed a coalition to support the internationally recognized Hadi government.
So far the proxy war has killed some 9,000 Yemenis and inured 60,000. 18 million displaced people need food and medical assistance. Yemen's total population is 28.5 million.
The Saudis conduct air strikes on Houthi targets, which is why the Houthis portray the SRBM attacks as retaliatory. The Saudis, however, are certain that the November 4 missile was fired by members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps and Lebanese Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia militia that Iran trains and finances. Hezbollah also provides proxy fighters for Iran elsewhere in the region (Syria).
From Lebanon , Lebanese Hezbollah fires Iranian-provided missiles at targets in Israel. Iran denies involvement, while promising the eventual destruction of Israel. From Yemen, Iran can pull the same trick on the Saudis -- another reason the Saudis can't let Yemen become an Iranian base.
Does Saudi Arabia have the power to win a war with Iran in the Gulf? Not by itself. It has the assets to seed stir within Iran. Its anti-Iran coalition could extend the war beyond Yemen, but it would be an indecisive war. Without the participation of U.S. forces, toppling the ayatollah regime by military means is most unlikely.
However, the nuclear weapons clock is ticking. Iran remains committed to obtaining nuclear weapons. The Saudis have ballistic missiles and the cash to buy or build nukes. Moreover, they now have the support of a new American administration that says it won't permit a nuclear armed Iranian dictatorship.
For clarity -- not mindless nit-picking -- it's not CBC's view but just another opinion piece by Michael Coren.MCG said:CBC predicts the next massive pan Middle East war is soon to start.
Yes, that is a more accurate statement.Journeyman said:For clarity -- not mindless nit-picking -- it's not CBC's view but just another opinion piece by Michael Coren.
More proxies maybe. Or they all meet somewhere central? Saudi Arabia & Syria fight it out inside Iraq maybe?YZT580 said:and by what magical means does SA get through Syria in order to attack Lebanon? Regardless of their collaboration I doubt very much that Israel would allow a Saudi armoured division to drive up the highway past Jerusalem on the way to the Lebanese border and I am even more certain that Damascus would file an objection or two