Analyst: It’s Not Shi’ite vs Sunni; It’s Shi’ite Iran vs All Arabs—and Jews
While most commentators view the current strife in the Islamic world as the continuation of the ancient battle between Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims, one security analyst believes the conflict has been instigated by Iran for the purpose of dividing and then conquering the Arab world and, while at it, destroying Israel.
“This war isn’t between Shi’ites, led by Iran, and Sunnis, led by Saudi Arabia. It’s actually a war between the Persian-Iranians and all Arabs, and, unfortunately, the Arabs are being played as fools by their Persian-Iranian puppeteers,” said Mark Langfan, a New York-based attorney who writes on security issues for Arutz Sheva and other publications. He also serves as chairman of Americans for a Safe Israel.
According to Mr. Langfan, the Iranians have purposefully instigated Sunni and Shi’ite Arabs to fight each other, seemingly to the death.
“The Persian-Iranian goal is not for all Shi’ites to win, but, rather, for all Arabs—Sunnis and Shi’ites—to kill one another and be so divided that that they will have no energy left when the Persian-Iranians come in for the kill and take the entire Arab ‘Persian’ Gulf containing 56 percent of the world’s oil supply,” said Mr. Langfan.
Why else, he asked, would Iran, with its population of 75 million Shi’ite Muslims, insist on sending Arab-Lebanese Shi’ite Hezbollah forces, that total at best 7,000 men, to fight and die in Syria, Iraq, and now Yemen.
According to Mr. Langfan, the Iranians use their Hezbollah proxies to enrage Sunni Muslims throughout the Arab world “the way a bullfighter uses a red flag.”
His position has been backed up by a leading anti-Hezbollah Lebanese cleric, Muhammad Ali Al-Husseini, who heads the Arab Islamic Council in Lebanon. In an interview with the Iraqi daily Al-Zaman, which was translated by MEMRI, Mr. Al-Husseini insisted that Iran’s plan to take over Arab countries “is nothing new.”
According to Mr. Al-Husseini, it began in 1979 when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini assumed leadership in Iran and determined to export his Islamic Revolution to the world. To win favor among Sunni Muslims, the Iranian mullahs named streets after the assassin of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, supported the Sunni Islamist Muslim Brotherhood in Algeria and Egypt; and allowed Sunni Al-Qaeda leaders, including the family of Osama bin-Laden, into Teheran after they were forced to flee from Afghanistan.
“Using this strategy, the Iranian regime managed to infiltrate Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other countries, in order to realize its ambitious plan to take over our Arab countries,” said Mr. Al-Husseini.
Joined by the President
According to Mr. Langfan, the Iranian plan became much more dangerous when US President Barack Obama decided to ally himself with the mullahs in their quest to continue their state-sponsored terrorism, much of it against Israel, and path to acquire a nuclear bomb.
“Obama is Iran’s co-conspirator-in-chief, acting as Teheran’s forward-deployed special forces, enabling Iran to lay waste to the entire Arab world and, while they’re at it, Israel,” said Mr. Langfan.
He suggested that the first step towards stopping the Iranians’ grand plan is to expose it. Then, he said, working as a team, Israel and the Arabs could defend themselves.
Mr. Al-Husseini had a similar suggestion. Referring to Iran, he said, “Cut off the serpent’s head, because if we do not, it will remain alive and continue to pose the same danger by giving rise to more terrorism.”
The Sunni Arab world does not seem prepared to do that yet. Thus far, they are still battling Iran’s Arab proxies, but Mr. Langfan believes the situation in Yemen is a game-changer.
When the latest Iranian Shi’ite-Arab proxies, the Houthis, assumed power in Yemen last February, it was the final straw for the Saudis. With a Sunni coalition that includes Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar, the Saudis launched an air campaign against Houthi targets in Yemen, carrying out almost 2,500 missions. In only a few weeks, more than 80 percent of the Houthis’ weapons supply was destroyed. The death toll in Yemen reached 944.
The US has provided logistics and intelligence support to the coalition, including refueling coalition warplanes, which the Pentagon viewed as a way to pressure the Houthis to return to the negotiating table while reducing civilian casualties.
No “Half Measures”
According to some reports, Saudi officials rebuffed US demands to scale back their attacks. The Saudis reportedly told their American counterparts that “half measures” and a “half war” would leave the Houthis in a position to resume their campaign later.
It was the same argument Israel had used when fighting Hamas in Gaza in 2014.
The show of Sunni strength in Yemen seems to have convinced Sunni members of the Yemeni army to look to the Saudis as their champions.
Having supported the Houthi militia with weapons, supplies, funds, and training, the Iranians did not take the looming Houthi defeat lightly. While Teheran made plans to resupply their proxies, the Saudis, with the help of their coalition, instituted a blockade on Yemen to prevent any such replenishment.
“To the Saudis, an Iranian-controlled Yemen 600 miles from Mecca is an existential threat,” said Mr. Langfan.
In an obvious attempt to placate the Saudis and reinforce their refusal to allow any new weapons to reach the Houthis, Mr. Obama ordered the USS Theodore Roosevelt Aircraft Carrier battle group to Yemen’s shores.
“This essentially announced that any Iranian attempt to resupply the Houthis would be crossing an American red-line,” said Mr. Langfan.
But, given Mr. Obama’s previous reversals on other red-line issues, Mr. Langfan said there are doubts as to how serious the President is this time.
“What’s clear is that if Obama caves to the Iranians, letting them dock in Yemen with weapons for the Houthis , he will be betraying the Saudis and neither they nor the rest of the Arab Sunnis would wait for another false promise from Washington. With nothing to lose, the Sunnis would surely attack Iran, and the Middle East would burst into a flaming all-out Arab-Sunni-Persian-Shiite war,” he said.
On the other hand, Mr. Langfan suggested, Mr. Obama’s goal in placing the US ship off Yemen might be merely an attempt to protect the Iranian nuclear deal, at least until after it is signed. In that case, he may be hoping the American presence would be sufficient to keep both sides at bay.
Ramping Up the Tension
If that is the plan, it has, thus far, been unsuccessful. At the end of April, the Saudis resumed bombing some Houthi targets, and, on April 29, the naval wing of Teheran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship, the MV Maersk Tigris, traveling through the Strait of Hormuz. The strait, one of the world’s busiest oil-shipping waterways, is technically in Iranian waters, but there is an internationally acknowledged shipping corridor which is used by commercial boats.
When the Tigris initially refused to follow the Iranian patrol boats further into Iranian waters, the Iranian naval forces fired warning shots across the ship’s bow, which the Americans saw as an “inappropriate” step. A former US colony, the Marshall Islands retains close defense ties with Washington.
When the Tigris sent out a distress call, the US Navy sent the USS Farragut in pursuit.
Drama at the Airport
The same day, the Saudi-led coalition prevented an Iranian commercial plane from landing in Sana’a airport.
According to Sunni coalition spokesman, Brig-Gen Ahmed Asiri, the Iranians were told that before landing in Sana’a, the plane had to stop in Bisha Airport in southwestern Saudi Arabia so it could be searched, a routine measure following the coalition’s enforcement of a blockade over Yemeni airspace.
Mr. Asiri said that although the pilot had consented to the procedure, the plane bypassed the agreed-upon route and headed directly for Sana’a.
When the Iranian pilots did not respond to calls from Sunni coalition warplanes, the coalition’s planes bombed Sana’a airport’s runway to prevent the Iranian plane from landing.
Escape to Oman
Informed that the runway had been targeted, the Iranian pilots promptly changed course and headed toward Oman.
According to Mr. Asiri, the plane’s actions were “unacceptable,” especially because the destroyed runway will delay the arrival of humanitarian aid to Yemen.
These situations, Mr. Langfan said, show that the US has allowed conditions to develop in which a full-blown war in the Middle East is virtually inevitable. The only question, he said, is whether the Arab world wakes up in time to understand that its Shi’ite and Sunni population should be on one side, with the Persian-Iranians on the other.
One thing is clear, he said: However the sides line up, Israel may be working behind the scenes with the Sunni coalition, but the Jewish state can count on no one. The Obama administration, on the other hand, will insist on standing with Iran.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar, a scholar of Arabic literature who teaches at Bar-Ilan University and, for 25 years, served as an IDF military intelligence specialist in Arab affairs, decried the lack of logic behind the US foreign policy decision to reach a nuclear agreement with Iranian leaders “at any price.”
As a result, he said, the deal, almost by definition, will be good for the Iranian leaders and bad for the US, Israel, and the rest of the world. Knowing how much Mr. Obama wants an agreement, the Iranian negotiators have “hardened their positions,” and, in exchange for doing the US the favor of signing the agreement, they will expect to be permitted to maintain their nuclear program, said Dr. Kedar.
He listed several reasons explaining why it is “imperative” that Mr. Obama not sign any agreement at all with Iran, beginning with the fact that even the President recognizes it will not prevent the Iranian leaders from obtaining nuclear weapons.
“Perhaps it will take them longer to get them, but Iranian nuclear weapons will go down in history as the achievement of President Barack Obama,” he said.
Shi’ite culture also militates against the agreement, he said, noting that Iranian leaders “look for ways to lie, cheat, pull the wool over our eyes, and hide the truth—all permissible under the rubric of ‘taqiya,’ a Shi’ite legal dispensation which allows them to lie and cheat if it serves their interests.”
According to Dr. Kedar, one form of “taqiya,” took place when Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Hosseini Khamenei, publicly issued an injunction against nuclear weapons. “After all, if he forbade them, why do they need a plutonium processing plant the nature of whose products is solely military?” said Dr. Kedar.
Another reason to reject the agreement, he said, is that signing it amounts to “a betrayal of tens of millions of Iranians and an abrogation of their right to lead normal lives” according to values that the West and particularly the US claim to espouse.
Accused of Taking Sides
He is convinced that an agreement with Iran will spark a nuclear-arms race in the entire Middle East, with the strong possibility that dangerous nuclear materials will find their way to terrorist groups.
A nuclear agreement between Iran and the West will also play a role in the Shi’ite-Sunni power struggle, he said, leading militant Sunni Islamist groups spawned by the Muslim Brotherhood, such as Hamas, Al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, al-Nusra, and others, to accuse the US and Europe of strengthening the Shi’ite faction of Islam at the Sunnis’ expense.
This, he said, could lead to increased Sunni terror throughout Europe and the US.
Retaking Mecca and Medina
One of the motivating goals of the Iranian leaders is their declared desire to control Mecca and Medina in order to restore Islamic rule to the followers of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth caliph who founded Shi’ism and was murdered in 661 CE.
According to Dr. Kedar, a nuclear agreement with the US will inspire Iran to pursue that goal, which can be achieved only by going to war to destroy the Saudi regime. The billions of dollars that will flow into Iran’s coffers once the imposed sanctions are lifted would pay for the war as well as Iranian-sponsored terrorism throughout the world.
“Any agreement with Iran that does not include a complete end to the Iranian nuclear program will encourage the Ayatollahs to view it as proof that Allah himself granted them victory over the nonbelievers—Christians, Americans, Jews, and Europeans. That feeling of victory will send the entire Middle East into a political, military, and governmental maelstrom, whose characteristics are already obvious in Yemen, which is itself a continuation of the bloodshed for which the Ayatollahs bear responsibility in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon,” he said.
Dr. Kedar agreed with Mr. Langfan that the agreement could ignite a general war in the Gulf and the destruction of oil and gas production in the region.
“One doesn’t need much imagination to predict what will happen to the price of energy worldwide if that should occur,” he said.
The only alternative, he said, is a no-nonsense letter to the Ayatollahs that should be signed by the leaders of the US, UK, France, Australia, and Germany, telling the Iranians “the party is over and so are the negotiations.”
The Iranians should be told they have “one week, starting this very minute, to dismantle all the nuclear installations in Fordow, Natanz, Arac, Parchin, and the rest. Dismantle the centrifuges and ship the parts to us by sea.”
The letter should conclude, he said, with a warning that the countries’ “land, sea, and air forces are surrounding you and are already revving up their engines. One week from today, if you do not do as we demand, we will begin to flatten you down to the ground.”
“The more serious and credible this threat seems, the less chance there is that it will be have to be implemented,” said Dr. Kedar, pointing out that the Ayatollahs are not suicidal.
“At the head of their list of priorities is preserving their power, their country, and their aspirations regarding the return of Islamic hegemony. They will elect to stay in power even if that means relinquishing their nuclear arsenal, and this is the only way to convince them to abandon their military nuclear plans. No other approach—certainly not an agreement—will prevent their nuclear armament and the catastrophic results for the world,” he said. “The only question remaining is whether the West’s leadership has really resolved to prevent the Ayatollahs from achieving nuclear weapons.”