Sunday, April 24, 2011
Does ultimatum mean Iran will invade Saudi Arabia? Here comes the 12th Imam
In what could produce a Muslim vs. Muslim military confrontation in the powderkeg that is the Middle East, Shi'a Iran is considering handing Sunni Saudi Arabia an ultimatum over sending its troops to crack down on the Shi'a majority in nearby Bahrain – a development that would be tantamount to armed conflict between the two bastions of Islam.
Iranian officials even have gone so far as to suggest blocking the Straits of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to stop ships carrying military supplies to Bahrain from the Saudi kingdom which, along with the United Arab Emirates, sent troops there at the request of Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.
Al-Khalifa had requested the troops to put down an increase in violence by Shi'a protesters, who make up some 70 percent of the Bahraini population. Both countries sent in some 1,000 troops each along with military equipment provided to them by the United States over time under military assistance programs.
The Bahraini regime and the Saudis blame Iran for instigating the violent demonstrations.
In what now could be a significant escalation between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Mohsen Rezael, secretary of Iran's Expediency Council, called for an "ultimatum" to be given to the Saudis in an effort to get them to withdraw their forces from Bahrain.
In making his threat, Rezael said that Iran and Iraq should give deliver the warning.
"Iran and Iraq should give Saudi Arabia an ultimatum to withdraw its forces from Bahrain," Rezael said. "Otherwise, both countries can probe the Saudi-bound weapons in the Strait of Hormuz and prevent the dispatch of equipment for suppression of Bahrain's people to that country."
Just as Rezael has invoked Iraq in Iran's dispute with Saudi Arabia, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi is to pay a visit to Baghdad shortly with a high-ranking delegation of military and defense officials.
As a further warning to Saudi Arabia, Supreme Leader's Adviser for Military Affairs Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi said Riyadh's military intervention in Bahrain also could be a pretext to foreign invasion of Saudi Arabia should popular protests increase in the kingdom.
The Saudi regime is very concerned with increasing unrest in its Eastern province where the population primarily is Shi'a. There already have been a number of demonstrations there that were put down quickly by Saudi police forces.
That region also is where most of the kingdom's oil production takes place.
"The presence and attitude of Saudi Arabia in Bahrain sets an incorrect precedence for similar future events," Safavi warned, "and Saudi Arabia should consider this fact that one day the very same event may recur in Saudi Arabia itself and Saudi Arabia may come under invasion for the very same excuse."