How bin Salman’s ‘triangle of evil’ threatens MENA region



Thu, 08 Mar 2018 - 12:23 GMT


Thu, 08 Mar 2018 - 12:23 GMT

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman looks on as he meets with French President Emmanuel Macron in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on November 9, 2017. Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman looks on as he meets with French President Emmanuel Macron in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on November 9, 2017. Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

CAIRO - 8 March 2018: “The triangle of evil” includes the same foes of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, said the youngest crown prince in the history of Saudi Arabia in a carefully-worded conversation with Egyptian journalists. Mohammad bin Salman named the Ottomans, Iran and terrorist organizations, but how did the three sides of the triangle amount to being perceived as such by the “ambitious” prince, as described by Western media?

According to TV host Lamiss Elhadidy, who attended the meeting on Monday at the Saudi ambassador’s house in Cairo, bin Salman said that Turkey wants to impose the Caliphate system in the MENA region. However, the Saudi embassy in Cairo later explained in a statement on March 6 that what the statement precisely meant was radical groups and the Muslim Brotherhood, who took Turkey as a safe haven to hide from their governments, but not Turkey as a state and government.

Speaking about Iran, bin Salman openly noted the danger it poses to all other countries and how it penetrated a large number of countries and controlled its polices, orientations and governments. “They want to export their own revolution to the other countries,” he added.

Bin Salman also explained that they managed to besiege Iranian expansion in most of the countries they tried to impose their control over, including Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon, along with numerous countries inside Asia and Africa.

He explained that, during the counter war against Iran’s expansion, two results were achieved. “Firstly, we besieged the Iranian expansion everywhere, including Yemen. Secondly, we managed to foil the Iranian scenario regarding dragging us into a war we don’t want or wish for,” the Crown Prince explained, according to Elhadidy’s remarks about the meeting.

The third rival bin Salman mentioned was “the terrorist organizations”; he didn’t name another country, according to Elhadidy, and didn’t mention Qatar in this context at all. However, he did mentioned it later on during the open discussion.

He said, “Why don’t you deal with Qatar as if it was Cuba? For about 45 years, Cuba and the United States haven’t had any diplomatic relations at all due to differences in the political views between both countries…when Cuba changed, the relations resumed again for the first time during 2015. Consider it a similar situation.”

Qatar’s policies are controversial to the Arab quartet, given its alleged support of terrorism. On June 5, 2017, Qatar was hit by its biggest diplomatic crisis in years after the Arab quartet’s decision to cut diplomatic ties with Doha and impose economic sanctions amid accusations of financing terrorism – a claim Qatar rejects. The Arab quartet halted all land, air and sea traffic to and from Qatar, and withdrew their diplomats and ambassadors from the country.

The Arab quartet issued 13 demands to Doha – later shortened to six principles – which included tuning down the voice of its news channel, Al-Jazeera; curbing relations with Iran; and not intervening in the internal affairs of Arab nations.

Bin Salman spoke in detail and gave many examples during his discussions, according to Elhadidy, who participated in the meeting. However, she said that she didn’t want to mention all the examples stated in the meeting.

An official has been assigned to take charge of the Qatari-Gulf case, said bin Salman. He added that the whole issue is not really talking too much of his thinking, as there is someone specialized to deal with it. He also stressed that no foreign mediation is going to be accepted to solve the dispute, even if it was “positive”. “The Qatari-Gulf diplomatic issue will be solved only through mediating among Arab states,” he argued.

What is it between Iran and KSA?

Iran has been reportedly interfering with Saudi policies in many countries, including Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s resignation from his post as he was on a formal visit to Riyadh explains a lot about the international reservation regarding Hezbollah’s (backed by Iran) upper-handed politics inside the country, which pulled the trigger on Lebanon’s situation.

1. Lebanon

On November 4, Hariri announced his sudden resignation in a short video from Riyadh, and then travelled for a quick visit to France with his family, where he met with French President Emmanuel Macron. Later, he visited Egypt and met with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and went back to his country to retract his resignation amid promises that real dialogues will begin between all parties in Lebanon.

“This is a moment of honesty and history, to all who have ears and eyes and wish to hear and see. I am Saad Rafik al-Hariri, one of you, standing with you to say thanks!” Hariri proclaimed, adding, “Thank you for all who know the importance of preserving this country’s stability and security. You came to welcome me back to the country, but I say that we should welcome Lebanon back for us,” in front of his residence in Beirut, aptly named “Moderation House”, on November 22.

“We, people of moderation, have nothing precious more than our country. Our principles are indivisible and our slogan will always be Lebanon first,” Hariri concluded. Hariri returned to Lebanon after 18 days of absence to attend the country’s Independence Day celebration.

The promised dialogue tackled all reasons for the resignation, which included the country’s sectarian problems and the impact on international relations, especially with Arab countries. Many claimed that Saudi Arabia had something related to the whole incident and even forced Hariri to do so, but the latter statements and speeches affirmed that Lebanon’s prime minster himself couldn’t feel like actually ruling with the Iranian influence stronger than what he can do with his country.

2. Yemen

Saudi Arabia and Iran are natural rivals given their respective populations as Sunni and Shiite, especially when the latter started to export its Shiite revolutionary principles through political means. The dispute exaggerated with the Iranian backing of Houthi militias inside Yemen, posing a real threat to the neighboring countries. This accordingly led to the Saudi Arabian intervention in Sanaa in March 2015, as per President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi’s request.

In February 2018, Saudi Arabian-led intervention spokesperson Colonel Turki Al-Malki announced that they succeeded to foil 95 Houthi attempts to target the kingdom with ballistic missiles since the beginning of the war.

According to al-Arabiya, in December 2017, Iran’s backing of the Houthi militias became no longer a “secret”, since President Hassan Rouhani said in one of his speeches on December 10 that he will continue backing the resistance forces in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

3. Syria

In Syria, the situation is far more complicated than any other country, especially with the American accusations of the Syrian regime using chemical weapons against the Syrian people, as well as the rising number of fatalities among civilians and the failure of ceasefires.

In a past statement to Egypt Today about the reason behind the constant violation of the truces and ceasefires, Qasem Al Khatib, a prominent member of Syria’s Al-Ghad (Tomorrow) movement, affirmed on July 29 that militants backed by Iran and affiliated with one of the military parties inside Syria are behind the eastern Ghouta ceasefire violations. “These militants have no interest in the signed ceasefire; they were not part of it and don’t want it to last,” Khatib said.

The meeting between bin Salman and the journalists included several issues, such as those detained in the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh, corruption within the kingdom, the Palestinian issue and even democracy within the KSA, according to Elhadidy. However, bin Salman affirmed more than once that the MENA region “is not in a bad situation; on contrary it’s at its best” despite everything. He referred this to the relatively identical opinions and political views between Egypt and his country that witness real good and thriving relations.

The Crown Prince started a three-day visit to Egypt on Monday, March 5 where he met with President Sisi, Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb and Coptic Pope Tawadros II.



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