The Middle East is boiling over! It’s more important now, than ever, to know what’s going on there. We can no longer hide behind the cloak of “its complicated.” An important thing to understand is the relationship between the two top dogs in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. These two titans are right in the middle of a cold war. They don’t fight directly against each other, but rather, they fight a series of proxy wars. The proxy wars are mainly being fought in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq, but also extend to Bahrain, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Much like the United States and Russia, the conflict extends beyond a military conflict. They are fighting for power and influence in the region. Iran is mostly comprised of Shia Muslims, while Saudi Arabia is largely Sunni Muslims. Both countries are major oil exporters competing internationally for business. Iran tends to align itself with countries like Russia and China, while Saudi Arabia is allies with the United States and other western nations. It’s important to understand the intricacies of these relationships in order to understand America’s role in the Middle East.
Back in the early 1930s the newly formed Saudi Arabia stumbled upon oil while looking for water, and other natural resources. At the time they didn’t have the technology readily available to drill it out of the ground. They needed to hire somebody from the outside. This is when American oil tycoons first intertwine themselves with the Saudi Arabian monarchy. This marks the formation of the Arabian American Oil company widely known as ARAMCO. Saudi Aramco is one of the largest companies in the world in terms of revenue, and has the second largest crude oil reserves in the world. Of course King Abdulaziz wasn’t just going to give Americans access to Saudi oil resources for free. He struck a deal. In exchange for access to the oil reserves the Americans would have to provide the Saudis protection. This is a deal we have had with the Saudis for almost a century now, and is part of the reason America is so compelled to involve itself in many middle eastern conflicts.
The United States realized early on, that it’s in our best interests to align ourselves with countries in the Middle East that have large oil reserves. Iran was certainly one of them. In the early 1950s it became clear that Iranian leadership was not going to give the U.S access to the country’s oil in the way Saudi Arabi had. It wasn’t obvious then, but we now know that the United States CIA staged a coup d’état, replacing Iranian leadership with a monarch known as “The Shah.” The Shah was essentially a puppet to western business interests. His appointment harbored a lot of resentment amongst the Iranian people. In 1979, tensions boiled over. The people of Iran overthrew the Shah and their monarchical form of government, and installed an Islamic Republic. The Islamic Republic that was put in place was much more hostile towards western business interests that they felt had previously taken advantage of their country. They also started holding elections to choose their leadership.
The Iranian Revolution set the stage for the current hostilities in the middle east. The Saudi Royal Family felt extremely threatened. If the Iranian people could overthrow their king and queen, why couldn’t the Saudi people? Saudi Arabia and Iran are the two largest countries in the middle east, with the two largest oil reserves. Contrary to popular belief, the Iranian people are not Arabic, they are Persian. They don’t speak Arabic like the rest of the Middle Eastern nations, they speak a language called Farsi. As noted earlier, the two countries have major religious differences with the Saudis being Sunni Muslims and the Iranians being Shia Muslims. Governments that are majority Shia Muslims are propped up by Iran and their military, while Sunni governments are propped up by the Saudis. Whenever a smaller country in the region (Syria, Yemen, Iraq…etc.) goes through a regime change, both major powers back their respective sides.
The Role of the United States
The Untied States has decided to unequivocally back the Saudis. It’s important to note that 15 of the 19 September 11th attackers were citizens of Saudi Arabia! Most Islamic terrorist attacks come from Sunni extremists. As far as I can tell, the U.S has never had an Iranian terror attack. Another shocking fact, in 1988 the United States “accidently” shot down an Iranian passenger plane. Not a military jet, but a passenger plane, filled with normal civilians. We choose to support the Saudis, who are run by a royal family, rather than Iran, a country with free elections. We align ourselves with a Royal Family who recently had a Washington Post journalist assassinated for writing negative stories about them. We support a country that orders public beheadings for those who violate sharia law. America chooses Sunni over Shia, and Arab over Persian. Saudi Arabia buys American bombs and kills civilians in Yemen. The Saudis shit all over international law and commit human rights abuses. Its time for America to wake up, and reconsider its stance in this pointless cold war. Large business interests in America want us to align with Saudi Arabia over Iran. It stopped making sense decades ago, but we still do it. The time has come for U.S foreign policy to be decided by reason, rather than the whims of the oil tycoons in Washington.