Global Migration & Politics
Analysis and commentary on the politics of the Middle East, of the power games that defines the region, and the economic, religious and ethnic problems the region is often facing.

Iran -the new gamechanger in the Middle East

In the ever-chaotic Middle East, navigating through one crisis after another, one has always had a sense of who were the strong and less powerful states in the region. But the positions of power are now changing: Iran is on its way up, and Saudi Arabia is waving. Alliances arise and pass away as they have done for thousands of years. Yasmin Abdel-Hak analyses the power game, which can have remarkable consequences for the turbulent region in the coming years.

For years, archbishops Saudi Arabia and Iran have stood opposite each other in the Middle East. However, the positions of power in recent years are changing these years after the recent crises in the region, including, above all, the war in Syria, which has created a political vacuum in places Iran has been able to exploit for its own benefit.

Thus, the regime in Tehran has its political prisoners arrested both in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Hamas in Palestine.It is a political reality that Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab world will have to deal with.

It’s an overly simplified approach to attributing Iran’s current strong position alone as the result of an Iranian nose to play the political game for its own benefit. The unprecedented situation in which the country is currently located is equally due to the fact that other countries coincide with Iran. And last but not least, Saudi Arabia is a bit categorized these days

For example, Turkey has a common agenda with Iran around the Kurdish areas of Syria. Thus, Iran has supported the Turkish presence in Syria in the border area of Turkey. Syria has an alliance in Iran that has sent troops and material to the country to fight the rebel forces. Iraq has also benefited from Iranian military resistance in the struggle against Islamic State in Mosul.

Saudi Arabia has for many years dived into own, deeply oily pockets and invested and borrowed money for their poor neighbors in the region. It has, among other things, made the former political superpower, Egypt, a long-standing Alliance.

But even though Egypt has supported Saudi Arabia’s demand for a boycott against Qatar for have supported the Muslim Brotherhood, and with the requirement to close the Al-Jazeera TV station, Egypt is too busy turning its eyes on both Russia and China for Investment Strong Moneymen, rather than be dependent on Saudi Arabian goodwill.

What about Saudi Arabia?

It’s a pretty bad situation in Saudi Arabia.

It seemed like a bit of a signal about new times and a need for a fresh breath, as the present King Salman raised his 31 year-old favorite son into the scene in 2015, first as deputy crown prince, and since June 2017 as Crown Prince.

I’ve previously mentioned in a more in-depth analysis the Crown Prince’s power base and the consequences of his lack of politically flexible.

It is quite problematic to have an inexperienced crown prince and de facto leader of a country that enjoys seeing itself as a political superpower. Saudi Arabia seems to have predicted a young crown prince without sense of the big chess game

To add further punishment, Saudi Arabia had to Ask for a loan of 10 billion is US dollar (63 billion Danish kroner) at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It is quite problematic in itself to have an inexperienced crown prince and de facto leader of a country that enjoys seeing itself as a political superpower. Saudi Arabia seems to have predicted a young crown prince without sense of the big-chess chess game

The background for the loan was due, inter alia, to the US Congress’s decision to allow survivors for the 9/11 attack in 2001 to prosecute Saudi Arabia to have been aware of the imminent attack on the World Trade Center in New York.

Formerly, the survivors of the victims have claimed a claim of $100 billion ($630 billion). At the same time, Saudi Arabian values are $750 billion ($4700 billion) frozen by the US government as long as the lawsuit against Saudi Arabia has not yet been resolved.

Besides sending shock waves through the Middle East that the world’s largest oil exporter was to ask for a loan, it stressed more than anything else that Saudi Arabia’s position as the strong opponent of Iran is seriously waving.

In addition to the humiliation itself that one of the richest countries in the world had to go to the IMF, an IMF loan means bad news for those countries that have so far benefited from Saudi Arabian money. For an IMF loan, there are a number of conditions for the recipient country. This includes a restructuring of the country’s previous economic model – the so-called interest rate state.

I have previously described how the Saudi community was built as a so-called rentier state . Roughly speaking, it is a state providing all public services without taxation of the population. The model incorporates the unprecedented contract between the population and the country’s ruler, of course, that the political space and personal freedom are of course very limited.

In other words, we are seeing a somewhat winged Saudi Arabia these days, which do not have political, economic or regional credibility and impetus that still tries to put an arm on Iran. For this reason, Iran has become the strong boy in the

class
When the crown prince launched his long-term economic plan for Saudi Arabia in Vision 2030 he predicted the need to begin collecting taxes on the population. The country has therefore already begun to charge a smaller – almost symbolic – so-called family tax imposed on each family member in a family.

But a population that has so far accepted a narrow political gap in return for tax exemption and major public services, including solid-state aid for gasoline, electricity, and food, will probably not receive higher taxation and the loss of state-supported services with kisses.

It could develop into a massive demand from the population for more political freedoms and human rights. In other words, it is expected that an IMF loan will have long-term consequences on the domestic policy scene, including some risk of political unrest among the population.

To make the situation even more vulnerable, the country’s Shi Muslim minority may also see an opportunity to draw attention to the systematic discrimination this population has been exposed to for years. It would definitely serve Iranian interests to support this case. Again an opportunity to secure Iranian interests, and this time on Saudi Arabian soil.

In other words, we see a somewhat winged Saudi Arabia these days, which do not have political, economic or regional credibility and impetus that still tries to put an arm on Iran. For that reason, Iran has become the strong boy in the class

With Iran at the helm?

The question is what will be of importance to the region with Iran in the lead. Some analyzes have pointed out that the region will face a dark future with Iran at the helm.

Aside from the fact that it is usual doom today, which is very normal for everything in the Middle East, it is also an overly simplified approach and unanimous view of Iran as a major political player. First, the country with its forces has actually managed to remove Islamic State from Mosul in Iraq. It has also helped to secure some – though vulnerable – ceasefire situation in Syria.

Now that Iran chose to support the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and not rebel forces. This is of course not in line with Western policy. There is also no doubt that Iran has through the years carried out terrorist-funded operations. This should in no way be taken as a defense of Iran and its political work.

The problem is that the same can be said about Saudi Arabia. A country that the West regards as an ally. A country that has deprived its people of fundamental human rights; systematically discriminates against a whole population group; a country that has similarly financed diverse Islamist groups with agendas that certainly do not harmonize with Western values.

A little laconically, can you ask if Iran as the leading superpower in the area can make it much worse than the former superpower of Saudi Arabia? The mechanisms that have always ruled the Middle East will continue to exist. The challenges facing the region will continue to be addressed with the respective countries’ own interests in mind. Alliances arise and pass away, as they have done for thousands of years in the region.

With an Iran in the lead of a new Middle East, the West will have to undertake a thorough self-review, and re-evaluate its own values – including real policy -.

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