Syria – A Collusion Theory?

There is a lot of talk going around that Saudi Arabia and Israel are in collusion; working with the United States [or maybe without] to manage the Iran factor in the Middle East. I suspect there is no greater fear in the Middle East than what Iran has planned – nuclear or otherwise. But in the near term, where Iran is doing harm is Syria.

If anyone was to eavesdrop on the conversations in a coffee house in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, it is unlikely anyone would be talking about the great new alliance Saudi had just formed with Israel. And yet, it is a relationship that could make sense. And why not? Both Saudi Arabia and Israel are US allies, recently both relationships have been strained for different reasons. Both countries have a lot to lose if Iran were to further destabilize the Middle East. So if the two unlikely mates have found a way to join up to protect their independent interests, then more power to them.

Saudi Arabia has made it known they are very unhappy with the lack of direct support of the UN Security Council in Syria. And, they sent their Foreign Minister on an international “dog and pony show” to discuss their displeasure. They have also been talking up what they believe is necessary in Syria – safety zones, weapons to the FSA, kicking out foreign fighters, and lots of humanitarian aid to the Syrian people.

As a last act of “falling on their sword,” the Saudis actually turned down a temporary seat on the UN Security Council. Their reason – they are protesting the inefficiency of the UNSC to make a difference in Syria that provides relief for the people that are suffering at the hands of the Assad regime. Parents and grandparents in Syria are now foregoing food to save their children from starvation.

US Out Of Sync With Reality?

nouri al maliki with bush 2006
Nouri alMaliki in Washington DC, June 2006

On November 1st, Iraqi Foreign Minister al-Maliki was in Washington D.C visiting the White House. President Obama was to reiterate John Kerry’s message that the US would like to have Iraq’s support to block Iran’s shipments of weapons and fighters to Syria, only allowing humanitarian aid through their airspace. This lofty goal is a good one, but unlikely, as Prime Minister Maliki “works for Iran.”

One has to ask … does the US think they have super powers of persuasion, or does their understanding of the Middle East continue to be out of sync with reality?

Iraq has their own foreign fighters in Syria that need to go home. The Iraqi soldiers fall into the category of “foreign fighters serving the Assad regime” killing the People of Syria.

al Maliki Not An Independent Politician

In his comment on a New York Times editorial about an al-Maliki visit to Washington, Nehad Ismail, a UK based writer and commentator specializing in the Middle East said,

.” .. To be brutally frank, al Maliki is not an independent politician. He acts at the behest of Iran. He must consult with two men before taking any decision or making any policy statements. The two men are: The Iranian Ambassador in Baghdad Hassa Dannani and the second is the Commander of Al Quds Brigade Qassem Suleimani. Every Iraqi and everyone in the Middle East knows this. Besides, Mr. al-Maliki needs to answer the following question: What are the Iraqi militias doing in Syria? Specifically Liwa Abu Fadl-Al-Abbas Brigade and Al-Nujaba’s who in August issued threats to hit at US interests in the region if Syria is attacked. Why the Iraqis are killing Syrian people opposed to the rule of Bashar al Assad. The sad fact is that Iran is behind Iraq’s involvement in Syria.”

Al-Maliki has a lot of explaining to do. The US is certainly not going to get any mileage out of a partnership with Maliki no matter how nicely they say please or “how directly expectations are expressed.”

With that said, the collusion theory between the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia might make sense, but it is only hypothetical. Israel has never been afraid to strike out if they feel threatened or even if they imagine that they could feel threatened.

In this case, with Iran “pouring weapons and fighters into Syria,” Israel has to be freaking out. The last thing they want is to have Syria turn into another one of Iran’s puppets. It was bad enough that Syria was Russia’s puppet prior to the revolution, but there was no imminent threat to Israel in that scenario. Israel certainly doesn’t want to have Iran as a next door neighbor.

Kimberly Jones is a global nomad with a special interest in the Middle East and North Africa. She grew up in Saudi Arabia and traveled throughout the MENA growing deeply attached to the people and the culture.