‘Battle Lines Drawn up in West Asia’


“Donald Trump is totally committed to Israel and Saudi Arabia. He promoted the relationship between the Israel and Saudi Arabia something which was already in place when they both opposed the US Nuclear deal with Iran. Under Trump their relationship has flowered, today you have a scenario where you have a nexus between US, Saudi Arabia and Israel on one hand against Iran to an extent Iraq, Hezbollah and Syrian regime on the other hand. Battle lines have got drawn up in that region” said Ambassador Talmiz Ahmad, former ambassador of India to Saudi Arabia, Oman and UAE. Amb Ahmad was giving a talk ‘Saudi Arabia’s Regional Security Challenges and Prospects for Peace’; the talk was organized by Ananta Center in New Delhi.

Amb Ahmed felt that the toppling of the Saddam and Hosni Mubarak regime hurt Saudi interests “Overthrow of Saddam and the deliberate empowerment of the Shia community in Iraq provided a scope for expansion of Iranian influence. Saudi Arabia put in place a balance of power by linking up with Egypt, but the fall of Hosni Mubarak regime during the Arab Spring disturbed the balance in power in the region. Disturbances in Shia majority Bahrain also rattled them so what it did was to send troops to Bahrain to disperse all agitators to end the Arab spring once and for all.”

He reminded the gathering that Saudi Arabia and Iran have been fighting two proxy wars in Syria and Yemen for years and these could take a larger uglier form.

Amb Ahmad explained Syria’s importance for Saudi Arabia “Saudis believed if they could dislodge Bashar al-Assad and install a Sunni government Syria would come into the Arab mainstream and restore the balance of power in the region. Another advantage is that Iran would lose its outreach into the Mediterranean once Damascus had come on board. The link that Iran has with Hezbollah would also wither away due to which Lebanon would come into Arab mainstream.”

Amb Ahmad picked Turkey as another power posing a challenge to Saudi Arabia in the doctrinal spheres “Turkey used the Jamal Khashoggi murder to fully discredit the Saudi regime projecting it as unfit to rule. Turkey is projecting itself as a moderate Islamic country proud of its Hanafi and Sufi traditions against the Wahabi Saudi Arabia that has spread extremism in the region.”

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