Recently Saudi Arabia trying to mobilize a coalition to counter Iranian expansion in the middle East. One of the last steps in this direction was the resolution of the League of Arab States, to recognize the Shiite group «Hezbollah» as a terrorist organization. Prior to that, with the filing of Riyadh announced the resignation of the Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad al-Hariri, prompting political crisis in the country. However, in Syria, the situation still is not in favor of Saudi Arabia. In General in the middle East for a long time, Iran has acted much more active than the Arab Kingdom and its allies. Arab media regularly report the disclosure of the subversive activities of the Iranian agents in the Gulf countries, for example, in Bahrain and Kuwait, but about same activities by Saudi agents in Iran these publications are almost none.
RAM Ben-Barak, the former Deputy Director of the foreign intelligence service «Mossad» and the head of Department of special operations «Mossad», the participant of the project of PNB, said that for many years Saudi Arabia has refrained from taking action on the regional arena. According to him, Riyadh has preferred to give money to various elements in the region and tasked with protection of their interests. «At some period they even gave money to the «Islamic state» that the group was fighting against the Iraqi government, fell under Iranian influence. The Saudis believed that they were rich enough to give money to others and hire them to fight in his place. Iran pursued a different policy. The Iranian regime is a clear ideology of expansion, within which was established the Islamic revolutionary guard Corps and a division of «al-Quds», which should create a zone of influence. They send instructors to train people, send weapons, send soldiers. The forces were unequal, the Iranian advantage was obvious,» he said.
«The situation changed when the throne of king Salman. His son, crown Prince Muhammad, pursues a very active policy. Three years ago he started with, that sent planes to bomb the Houthis in Yemen. He is trying to form anti-Iran coalition, what is the scandal with Hariri, and unequivocal condemnation of Hizbullah. So the situation is changing, but where will this lead? Whether the Saudi planes to bomb Iranian facilities? Maybe, but if that happens, on a limited scale. Iran according the standards of the region – a superpower,» said Ben-Barak.
Iranian-Saudi confrontation markedly in different countries. «In Bahrain, the Shiite majority, Iran is trying to undermine the government there and in other Gulf countries, zasylaya its agents, which from time to time caught by the local authorities. However, Saudi Arabia is unlikely to respond in kind and try to destabilize the Iranian regime, relying on the Sunni minority in Iran,» he said. According to him, the Iranian regime is very strong and created a different structure for the fight against internal enemies, including the forces of «Basij», and the attempt of Saudi Arabia to undermine from within this power can only lead to limited success. «To create a threat to the regime is necessary to unite all minorities, whether religious, like the Sunnis, and ethnic Kurds and Azeris, but I don’t think it will happen,» said former Deputy Director of the «Mossad».
Describing the situation in Syria, RAM Ben-Barak said that the regime of Bashar al-Assad started to win only thanks to Russia. To the Russian military intervention nor Iranian nor Hizbullah could not tip the scales in his direction. Therefore, the post-war situation in Syria, including the presence of Iranian troops, depends entirely on Russia. «If Putin wanted to, then Syria would not be a single Iranian. Nobody will mess with Russia. They are the strongest in the region, perhaps the second strongest in the world. In this case, apparently, Russia is not interested in the fact that in the region of complete tranquillity reigns, to put it mildly. They are not against one or the other tension, which ensures their dominant position. Turn to them in case of a problem. In this position, they retain influence not only in Syria but in Israel and throughout the region. At the moment Russia is satisfied with the presence in Syria of Shia militias, Iranian units and Hizbullah», he said.
About a possible cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia RAM Ben-Barak said that the secret contacts certainly exist, and Israel and the Gulf countries have common interests in the security sphere due to the Iranian threat. «It is possible to assume the existence of cooperation of intelligence agencies against Iran and against the terrorist threat in the face of the Igil and «al-Qaeda», also threatening the Arab countries. I believe that if the Israeli government had enough political courage, and would go to serious steps against the Palestinians, which may influence the Saudis, it would be possible to achieve a long-term phased agreement in which the interests of Israeli security, under Saudi warranties and financing. It seems to me that Saudi Arabia and Egypt have hinted at this. If that happens, then the relationship with Gulf countries will begin to develop. And there is a feeling, judging by the publications in the press and statements by the Americans that behind the scenes are some contacts on this issue», – he said.
Predicting the future development of Saudi-Iranian confrontation in the short term, RAM Ben-Barak said that Riyadh and Tehran are going to clash, but it’s still not clear will result if their conflict into open hostilities in one form or another. «The crown Prince Muhammad a very active person, and Saudi Arabia is becoming more and more decisive in foreign policy that responds to Israeli interests», – the expert believes.
Text and photo courtesy of project «Pro national security». Published in the framework of the information partnership