“The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is a very old proverb and suggests that anybody who opposes those you also oppose is somebody you can work with, oh and much to the surprise of some, this is a concept that is first recorded within a Sanskrit treatise on statecraft dating to around the 4th century BC. If indeed you do share a common cause then there is of course scope for putting aside some differences to work towards a common goal, but when it comes to Saudi Arabia … er no.
If you read this blog then you might (or perhaps might not) be aware that I have at times been quite a vocal critic of Saudi Arabia, and with good reason, because their track record on human rights is perhaps one of the worst on the planet, so these are not a people we should ever be working with.
As you are no doubt aware, relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have fallen into a frozen winter after the Saudis chopped off the head of Nimr al-Nimr, a Shia cleric, for the “crime” of openly criticising the Saudi Royals, and so Saudi Arabia and Iran have now proceeded to vigorously criticise each other’s behaviour. It is perhaps to be expected because this is all a continuation of the very ancient Sunni vs Shia conflict that has been going on inside Islam for a very very long time, and dates to 632 CE – in other words, the people who started all this insanity died over one thousand four hundred years ago.
There are also other reasons at play here as well. The House of Saudi is very very ticked off at Iran because their plans for a hegemony in the region are being scuppered and they blame Iran for that, so they appear to be now intent on provoking Iran into attacking them in the hope that the US would respond and obliterate them.
This all poses considerable risks for us all because that would suck in Russia and China on the Iranian side and so we must step back and not get involved.
Human Rights Trumps it all
The Human Rights Campaigner, Peter Tatchell has written a brilliant criticism of this prevailing madness within the International Business Times and there he outlines the gross absurdity that is Saudi Arabia and also Iran …
Iran’s criticism of the Saudi mass executions is outrageous hypocrisy. Tehran is also guilty of barbaric killing methods and, indeed, of putting to death eight times as many prisoners as Riyadh in 2014. It condemns Saudi Arabia for persecuting Shia Muslims, yet it persecutes Sunnis.
… On every count, the crimes Iran accuses the Saudis of committing are crimes Iran has also committed.
In 2014, Iran admitted to executing 289 people. However, unofficial reports, mostly from bereaved family members, indicate that at least a further 454 were hanged in secret without public acknowledgement. This makes a total of 743 executions, according to Amnesty International.
By comparison, Saudi Arabia executed 90 people in the same year – still a shocking roll call but only 12% of the number put to death by Tehran.
… and it is not simply a numbers game …
The Iranians condemn the preferred Saudi method of execution, beheading, as barbaric. It is inhuman, bloodthirsty and wrong – but at least it usually kills the victim swiftly.
In contrast, Tehran’s methods are calculated to make death slow and painful. They include stoning to death; stipulating that the stones must not be too big, in order that the person does not die too fast. The regime wants to make sure the victim suffers a prolonged, agonising fate.
Likewise, when conducting hangings, Iran does not use the drop method, which causes near instant death. It practises slow strangulation, where the condemned person is hoisted on a crane by the neck and sadistically left to slowly asphyxiate, often writhing in agony for several minutes. Iran also sometimes uses the “IS method” of throwing convictees off tall buildings.
These are both cruel theocratic dictatorships where individual rights do not matter. You must submit and obey whatever is deemed to the decreed by a god by some self-appointed cleric, and if they feel you have infringed these rules, then they will take you and beat you until you confess. Mr Tatchell goes on the lay out the details, and as a human rights activist he is quite familiar with it all …
…Iran is the world’s leading executioner of juvenile offenders, with 14 being hanged in 2014. At least 160 young people are currently on death row
…Under Iranian law, a girl can be hanged or stoned to death from the age of nine lunar years
…Iran denounces the Saudis for persecuting Shia Muslims, it does exactly the same to Sunnis
…Iran …In one particularly bloody seven-month period, from August 1988 to February 1989, at least 4,500 people
The truth is very simple
Peter Tatchell’s last words nail it.
Both Saudi Arabia and Iran are ruthless clerical tyrannies that systematically abuse the human rights of religious, ethnic, political and sexual minorities. A plague on both of them.
Why is this all happening now?
Many pleaded with Saudi Arabia not to provoke Iran, but they ignored all that, so clearly they have a very specific agenda here.
Saudi Arabia’s efforts to provoke Iran into a violent reaction and thus start a war is really in hopes that a violent Iranian act would create such an uproar in Washington political circles, and especially in Congress, that the United States would be forced to intervene in the conflict by attacking Iran. A US intervention against Iran, the Saudis hope, would rid them once and for all of their Iran problem.
Nor is this mere speculation. Saudi Arabia for some time has been trying to provoke Iran.
… Under these circumstances, it is crucial not to underestimate the risks of conflict that could end up entangling the United States in another Middle East war that it does not want. Saudi Arabia at the moment is very much like an angry, wounded animal. Many of its plans for regional hegemony have gone awry and have saddled it with huge financial burdens. Most important, they are still seething with anger at the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1. Unwilling to see how unreasonable their ambitions have been and believing that they can either bribe or intimidate everyone into doing their bidding, the Saudis blame Iran for their thwarted ambitions.
The House of Saudi has embarked upon a road that will potentially reap dire consequences for them, and we must not let ourselves get sucked into yet another Middle east disaster, but instead stand back and let it play out, because that is the only road that is in our bests interests.