Israelis and Wahhabis: Political Plate Tectonics Middle East (Final)

Posted: October 11, 2012 in Sideviews
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For the aggressors, the situation looks symmetrical: the advantage of the Syrian army by the better weapons and training, and, most important, through the air superiority disallows the rebel bands to even win tactical victories. They are methodically wiped out one after the other. Russia and China do not allow the use of the UN Security Council (UNSC) as a cover for a potentiation of aggression.

There are certainly other factors, but the quoted factors are enough to realize that the aggressors are forced to look for other ways to solve their essential tasks. Currently, the answer to the tactical advantages and diplomatic backing of Syria is just one: fanatical crowds from across the Middle East and North Africa, which were recruited from the, previously by the “Arab Spring” disintegrated, state entities, and who are thrown against Syria.

That Turkey or better said – their leaders – are objectively interested in expanding of the aggression, was already mentioned several times. The Wahhabi Gulf monarchies agree to this. However, both, the direct aggression, which was recently demanded by the Emir of Qatar at the UN General Assembly, as well as any other methods to extend the conflict further, do bump sometime on the need of the “edit” of the Iranian issue.

Iran has made it absolutely clear that it will visit the home of the aggressor in the event of an aggression against Syria. Actually, he has no other choice. In this sense, an escalation of aggression against Syria is tantamount to an attack on Iran.

And vice versa – in circumstances in which Iran is destroyed or maximum weakened, the aggressors have a chance to even solve the “Syrian problem”. Neither Russia nor China will get directly involved in the conflict in Syria – in the sense of a presence on the ground; and the Turks and the Gulf monarchies will somehow survive the diplomatic headwind.

Israelis and Wahhabi form a coalition in the favour of the hour

This leads to a strange constellation: Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are actually allies of Israel in its belligerence (desire of war) against Iran. And this not only verbally. While Turkey looks as the most miserable in this quartet. It has not a single strategic objective for this war, but it is only the survival instinct of the current Turkish leadership, who maneuverers the country towards war.

The main reason for the current escalating aggression of Israel (and that should say something, recalling the consistently aggressive ambient noise!) seems to be the uniqueness of the current constellation. Precisely for this reason, Netanyahu is literally blackmailing the Americans and lies so-and-so about a “already tomorrow” of the mythical Iranian bomb. What should he do otherwise, when he is confronted with such a potpourri of quasi-allies in his womb? When will there again be such a convenient situation?


If it would only be the current constellation, which is quite temporary, then Israel would hardly press ahead like this. There is another reason which seems to boost Netanyahu to topple the region as soon as possible into a war (and to be so naive to believe to still be able to maintain the control).

This reason is the vanished Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, who is missing for some time. To be more precise – he is missing since the 27 August, the day on which the Crown Prince Salman has taken over all affairs of the kingdom. Better said: Abdullah as such, or its disappearance, or even his death, is naturally no real reason to overdraw the region with war, of course. He is not the problem, but the problem is that the era of the Saudi generation of rulers comes to an end.

Syrian troops in al-Midan (Damascus) Photo: Anhar

Syrian troops in al-Midan (Damascus) Photo: Anhar

Digression: Internals of the Saudis

The background is, that the founder of the present Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud, had not only to weld together territories, but also had to weld together various, sometimes warring against the others, tribes and clans with blood and iron. He represented the tribal confederation of ‘Anizah, which had the power in the Najd. Beside this Confederacy, the interests of six other tribes and clans had to be taken into account.

Among them were the Shammar from the North of Najd, the Mutayr, which had settled in the Najd and Hijaz, the Qahtan from southern Najd, the Adschran, which were displaced by the ancestors of the Yemenis from Najran, and then the small but acrimonious even by Arab standards, who are also used to harsh living conditions, the tribe Banu Murra, and finally, the clan of the Banu Khalid from the eastern areas of Arabia.

In addition to the interests of the various tribes, the Wahhabism was the core and backbone in the merge of the Arabian Peninsula under direction of the Saudis. All three of their empires were from the outset and in the core determined by the Wahhabi ideology (or were). The otherwise less religious Bedouins found a common denominator in monotheism and became the mainstay in the confrontation between the central Najd and the less radical Hanafi Islam in Hejaz, which engulfed in Ottoman decadence and “Schism”.

Despite the fact, that the zeal and the intransigence of the ultra-Orthodox Ikhwan was confronted someday with the fact, that they, for the sake of a national unity, also had to include other versions and currents of Islam, the Wahhabism remained the state ideology. Despite the fact, that the zeal and the intransigence of the ultra-Orthodox Ikhwan was confronted someday with the fact, that they, for the sake of a national unity, also had to include other versions and currents of Islam, the Wahhabism remained the state ideology.



The two paragraphs on this subject are certainly only a rough sketch of the challenges which Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud was faced with. He needed not only the malleability of the tribes, but also their cooperation. Blood and Iron on the one hand, the distribution of wealth, privileges, posts, and “dynastic marriages” on the other hand. And here we have the special nature of the Saudi way of succession to the throne: King Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud was forced to replace the usual order of succession from father to son by a complicated system. Otherwise, the state power would have been quite quickly usurped by another tribe, and this would have thereby quickly leaded to a disruption of the balance, that was previously adjusted with difficulty by the king.

Such a disturbance has already happened in the history of this third Saudi Kingdom as the son of the state founder, Saud ibn Abd al-Aziz – distaff side from the tribe of the Qahtan – has occupied all the important posts in the realm by his numerous offshoots in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Only with great effort by the brothers of Abd al-Aziz, foreign consultancy and the combined power of the other tribes, and by the most influential clan of the al-Shaikh, it has been managed to further maintain the balance of interests within the family. These years led Saudi Arabia to the brink of disintegration. And in these days, the sons of Abd al-Aziz’ were yet young and energetic.

A similar critical phase is starting now, but this time, the reasons for this critical phase are completely objective. While it may have been achieved within the first generation of the children of the state founder to determine a balance on the matrilineal line (keyword: Sudairi Seven), so this principle can no more be applied in the next generation, because here, the maternal and paternal lines have now become inextricable and the number of potential heir apparent increases exponentially. Even a calculator has problems here.

The current system of succession can therefore definitely not be maintained anymore, a new consensus has to be found. Thereby, the Crown Prince Salman is the last chance, to establish a new way to the throne on a “regular” method, this means, to establish it in a peaceful way. Since a half-century, he is the Governor of the province Riyadh, and also one of the Sudairi Seven, of which only four are still alive (one of them in exile).

In terms of his character, he is no leader personality. And already for that reason, it can be that the younger, sultry generation will try to dash forward after the death of Abdullah. The situation will be even more difficult, as the three structures of power – so the army, police and intelligence services – are in the hands of each competing factions. These have to agree with each other, always for a certain time.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan – from the next younger generation and undoubtedly an authority – was the key figure to the sustainability of a compromise between these structures, but he is missing for quite some time and it is presumed that he has been killed. When he really was murdered, so for the three structures of power, the authority figure is missing who would have been able to merge these three structures of power.

I am your worst nightmare

Back to the gloomy thoughts of Netanyahu. One is sure able to make the following observations about this. He is certainly familiar in detail with the constellations and the situation in Saudi Arabia. For sure, he is also well informed about the health of King Abdullah, if he is still alive. And all together is not nice for him. It seems to be so abhorrent for him, to such an extent, that he is ready to lead a war in hurry. And no one can deny a certain logic behind him:

The aggressors stomp around in Syria at an impasse right now and because of this, they have to clench all their remaining teeth together in order to get out of this tactical hole in which they got consistently kicked into it by the Syrian army in their previous efforts.

And if of all things one of the most important members of this aggressor-chain breaks away at this juncture and has to deal with internal own problems, then the “Arab Spring” (willingly, even in winter) will continue its merry dance on the so far away and until now unscathed expanses of the Arab Peninsula. And even Yemen already cracks in every nook and corner. Bahrain protests with increasing frequency. And from there, the traveling circus will probably continue to travel without stopping.

Syria & Iran

Syria & Iran

In the end, Netanyahu visionary sees throughout the entire Middle East region that Israel’s worst nightmare could come true: a surviving Syria and the only remaining serious player in the region, namely Iran. And moreover, that it is in a de facto alliance with the Shiite Iraq. When the entire chaotically scum of the “Arab Spring” is allowed to finally topple on the “hereditary enemy” by somebody`s pointer, then any Israeli nuclear weapons will not help anymore.

This is then probably the reasons why the “very peace-loving” Netanyahu is currently much more impatient than before and threshes like the biblical ox, while steam is discharged through his reddened nostrils. He just cannot do anything else than to plunge the region into a war and to hope meanwhile that he will be able to keep the things under control. Naive, but he has no choice, or anyway soon no more.

Profit vs. Survival

Also the United States realize that they might face a possible fiasco in its Middle Eastern policy, both, the outdated Republican, and also the “modern” and perfidious Democrats. However, they probably do consider correctly, that an attack on the present, still quite powerful Iran might poses too much risk. But in the next year, presidential elections will take place in Iran. Until then, the Persians can gag a little bit with embargoes and sanctions, one can provoke some discontent, protest and riots, in a word – to knock down Iran to the possible broken status, and then to fetch the MOABs (GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast) from the basement.

For Israel, however, the time is ticking away. The question of survival is far more important for the Israelis than the profit of the United States. And Israel is quite capable to easy start a mechanism, in which the country carries out just a roughly and from the cold hand a strike against Iran. And so, it forces the United States to be involved in this conflict.

It also gives the Turkish leadership the opportunity to give their almost mutinous army something more to do. To guide the attention of the Saudi princes from internal problems to external problems. They and the Emir al-Thani will then receive the bill for the banquet. And withal, the timeframe is not very large – a couple of weeks, maybe months.

It can certainly also happen that these contractions subside again, but right now, there are no signs for this. All are eagerly waiting for news from the Saudi royal family.


Political Plate Tectonics Middle East (Part 1)
Syria and Iran: Political Plate Tectonics Middle East (Part 2)
Turkey and Syria: Political Plate Tectonics Middle East (Part 3)

  1. Bronwen says:

    Congratulations! What a brilliant series of articles

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