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Are the Iranians the New Sultans of the Middle East?

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Copyright World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org) swiss-image.ch/Photo by Jean-Bernard Sieber

With Al Houthi rebels overtaking Sanaa, a former advisor to Iranian President Khatami has declared that Iran is the new sultan of the Middle East. Iran has supported the Al Houthi rebels taking over Yemen, believing it will expand their sphere of influence at the expense of Saudi Arabia.

Iranian political analyst Mohammed Sadeq Al Hosseini, a former advisor to Iranian President Khatami, told Lebanon’s Al Mayadeen: “The Saudi ruler represents a tribe on the verge of extinction. This is what the top observers say. End of discussion. Abd Al-Malik Al-Houthi is now the boss in Yemen and he will become the boss of the Arabian Peninsula.”

According to the report in MEMRI, Hosseini noted that Abd Al-Aziz Aal Saud used to say to the Saudis: “When Yemen is weak, you are strong, and when Yemen is strong, you are weak.” According to Hosseini, “He said that when he established Saudi Arabia in 1923. Now the tables have turned. Now the Yemenis have become strong, while the Saudis have become weak. I am not talking about wealth, arms, or international relations, but about the making of geo-politics and history. We are in the middle of a transformation. A third world war has begun.”

The interviewer from Al Mayadeen noted that according to an American report, Yemen will control the Arabian Peninsula by 2015. Hosseini replied: “All of this began at the gates of Damascus… What changed the map was the steadfastness of the Syrian people and army, of Hezbollah, and of the Iranians in Damascus, when they prevented the fall of the city on September 3, 2013. Obama drank from the goblet of poison three times: at the gates of Damascus, at the wall of Gaza, and on the outskirts of Baghdad. Today, he is drinking from it for the fourth time – this time in Sanaa.”

He noted that now Obama wants to return to the Middle East region, but it is too late for that now: “We in the axis of resistance are the new sultans of the Mediterranean and the Gulf. We in Tehran, Damascus, [Hizbullah’s] southern suburb of Beirut, Baghdad, and Sanaa will shape the map of the region. We are the new sultans of the Red Sea as well.”

Around the same period of time that Khatami’s former advisor made these statements on Al Mayadeen, Gulf News published an article titled “Al Houthi takeover in Yemen is a gift for Iran.” In the article, they stress that the Al Houthi rebels overtaking Sanaa is a boost for Iran and weakens Saudi Arabia. Iran believes that their takeover offers them the opportunity to expand their influence in the Middle East region.

However, Gulf News does not believe that these rebels will takeover all of Yemen. While the Yemenite capital city of Sanaa is dominated by Shiites, the rest of Yemen remains overwhelming Sunni. They noted that Al Houthi took advantage of the massive poverty within the country, the rejection of the tribal elites, and the collapse of state institutions in order to become a force to be reckoned with. Additionally, Yemenite leader Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi noted that two Iranian Revolutionary Guards members were accused of training Al Houthi rebels.

Ebrahim Sharqieh, an analyst at the Brookings Institute, told Gulf News: “the Americans have chosen to accommodate Iran’s expansion of influence in Yemen for two reasons.” The first is “a lack of strategy on how to resist this increasing influence,” coupled with Washington, D.C. “sticking to its traditional security-focused approach of prioritizing counter-terrorism over any other aspect of its relations with the Middle East.” The United States fears Al Qaeda taking over more than Iranian influence in the region. Given this, the U.S. has indeed left Iran to be the new Sultan of the Middle East at the expense of Saudi Arabia, a traditional U.S. ally.

 

Author

Rachel Avraham
Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham is a political analyst working at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights. For 7 years, she has been an Israel-based journalist, specializing in radical Islam, abuses of human rights and minority rights, counter-terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Syria, Iran, Kurdistan and other issues of importance. Avraham is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media," a ground-breaking book endorsed by Former Israel Consul General Yitzchak Ben Gad and Israeli Communications Minister Ayoob Kara that discusses how the media exploits the life stories of Palestinian female terrorists in order to justify wanton acts of violence. Avraham has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University. She received her BA in Government and Politics with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.

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