Nov 27, 2017
On Saturday, November 4, the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, organized a purge of the top levels of his State, arresting some 200 princes, members of the clan of the previous ruler, older ministers, and other wealthy businessmen. He also, apparently, orchestrated the resignation of the Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, which was announced the same day from the Saudi capital.
In pressuring the Lebanese prime minister to resign, the Saudi authority wants to readjust the balance of political forces in place in Lebanon for some years – a balance that has allowed Hezbollah, the Shiite party allied with Iran, to gain power via a power-sharing agreement with Hariri’s Sunni group. Over some months, the Saudi government has moved quickly in its anti-Iranian diplomacy. It wants to demonstrate that in the Arab world, it is prepared to oppose in all matters those who work with its Iranian rival.
Whether the political rule being established in Syria and Iraq with the military retreat of ISIS, or in Yemen where the Saudi army is dug in, Saudi Arabia finds itself facing forces that lean upon or could seek support from its Iranian rival – as is the case with the Houthi rebellion in Yemen. It’s also evident in the tensions between Saudi Arabia and Qatar that have been going on for these last months, since Qatar has been collaborating with Iran to exploit a gigantic natural gas deposit in the Persian Gulf.
But behind it all is, as always, imperialism.
The policy of imperialism in the Middle East has always been to inflame rivalries between regional powers in order to ensure its domination. These rivalries have largely weighed on the war in Syria, which has seen the intervention by militias supported by Saudi Arabia, by Turkey, and by Iran, not to mention Russia, the United States, and other imperialist powers. At the moment when the conflict seems to be ending, the ambitions of Mohammed bin Salman are creating fears that they will uncork a direct conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, in Lebanon or somewhere else.
In the Middle East, the domination of imperialism offers only the possibility of eternal chaos.