by Mark Ulyseas
The ongoing Saudi-Israeli talks have been progressing for the last few years. The subject: Iran and its nuclear ambitions.
Recently a joint Saudi-Israeli delegation visited India and met a number of prominent Shia leaders. They visited the city of Nawabs, Lucknow, to meet leading figures in the Shia community, perhaps to gauge their reaction to a possible Saudi-Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities in the event of the breakdown of talks. (Could it be that the Saudi bombing of Yemen is a dry run for what is to come for Iran?).
“The Raja of Mahmudabad, well-known Shia intellectual in Lucknow and erstwhile royalty and his sons were part of a meeting between an Israeli think tank, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and a Saudi delegation from the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies, in Jeddah.
Interestingly, the Israeli team was led by Dore Gold, who has just been named Israel’s new foreign secretary. The Saudi delegation was led by Maj Gen(retd) Dr Anwar Majed Eshki, according to Shimon Shapira, one of the members of the Israeli delegation who wrote a blog on the meeting, calling it “extraordinary.
In his blog Ali Khan observes, “With the potential of a nuclear agreement between Iran and the United States in June 2015, it was becoming increasingly clear that the delegation was visiting India in order to find out about public opinion amongst Shias for Iran and perhaps gauge what reaction there maybe amongst Indian Shias if something happened vis-a-vis Iran.” LINK
The Israel ‘reconnection’ with India since the 1990s has blossomed into lucrative business contracts and the transfer of technology. Saudi Arabia is the largest donor to Islamic institutions in India where the world’s second largest population of Sunnis live cheek by jowl with over approx. 50 million Shias.
What was interesting in the meetings in India was the seating arrangements of the two delegations. They sat together on one side of the conference table, joined at the hip and speaking in one voice.
June 2015 has come and gone, just like deadlines for the last ten years on the Iran Nuclear Deal. Once again the deadline has been extended till this weekend.
The continued extensions is reflective of the mood in certain western countries that do not want an agreement. Of course, the Israelis have their reservations and the Saudis, their genetic sectarianism.
So here is what could happen:
- Saudi Arabia has already signed a deal with Pakistan on the one-off sale of three nuclear bombs to act as a deterrent to Iran. The transfer will be legitimate in the aftermath of the failure of the talks.
- A joint Saudi-Israeli attack on the nuclear facilities of Iran under the benign guidance of western powers.
- The Iran-Pakistan border will erupt into violence.
- India will be hard pressed to keep the peace between its Shia-Sunni population. Indonesia too will feel the heat.
The troubling scenario bodes well for Saudi Arabia, not Israel.
In fact Israel will perhaps become the next ‘order of business’ for the Saudis when the latter have possession of the Bomb. The key to Saudi diplomacy is ‘deterrence’. Once they have this, then they can work more openly on regional aspirations. Possibly fund/provoke ISIS to turn it on Iran, post bombing of Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Meanwhile, Russia and China will drop in to sell their goodies.
Essential reading :
- Ali Khan Mahmudabad – Shia-Sunni Relations in India (Cambridge University)
- Dr. Ali Usman Qasmi – Shia-Sunni Schisms in Pakistan (Lahore University)
- Dr. Carool Kersten – Shia-Sunni Schisms – World View (King’s College)
- Dr. Chiara Formichi – Shia-Sunni Relations in Indonesia (Hong Kong University)
- Huma Yusuf – Pakistan’s Sectarian violence (Fulbright scholar, Author, Journalist)
- Dr. Paul Rollier – Shias in Pakistan: A View from Lahore (University College London)