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Saudi Arabia Cuts Its Diplomatic Ties With Iran
Tensions sparked by cleric’s execution raise alarm about growing hostilities in regional battle for influence between two countries

 

By Asa Fitch in Dubai, Ahmed Al Omran in Riyadh and Karen Leigh in Beirut

Updated Jan. 3, 2016 7:48 p.m. ET

Saudi Arabia cut off diplomatic relations with Iran on Sunday, giving Iranian diplomats 48 hours to leave the country, as the kingdom’s execution of a dissident cleric inflamed sectarian tensions in a region already brimming with conflict.

 

Crowds of incensed Shiite Muslims demonstrated in cities from Tehran to Beirut, condemning the death of Nemer al-Nemer—a prominent Shiite cleric put to death in the mass execution of 47 prisoners on Saturday—and calling for the downfall of the Saudi government. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared that Saudi Arabia would face divine retribution for Mr. al-Nemer’s execution.

 

The unrest raised alarm in Western capitals about a new year of growing hostilities in the regional battle for influence between the Sunni kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran, the dominant Shiite power in the Middle East.

 

U.S. officials—who were pursuing high-level contacts with both countries Sunday in an effort to reduce the escalating tensions—said the State Department had been holding discussions for months with the Saudis about Washington’s concern over the planned executions and their potential to fuel sectarian strife.

 

“We have raised at every level of the State Department our concerns about judicial practices with Saudi officials, to include the (al-Nemer) case,” State Department spokesperson John Kirby said.

 

Sunday’s protests were largely peaceful, but followed violence the previous night during which Iranians threw Molotov cocktails at the Saudi embassy in Tehran, setting parts of it on fire. There were also protests at the Saudi consulate in Mashhad, Iran’s second-largest city.

 

Saudi Arabia’s more aggressive approach toward Iran since King Salman came into power last year has been on display in its increased involvement in the Syrian civil war, where it is countering Iran-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and in Yemen, where it is fighting Houthi rebels that receive Iran’s political support.

 

Mr. al-Nemer’s execution could have been planned in part to placate a large bloc of Saudis who favor anti-Shiite policies and sympathize with Sunni extremism, even if the Saudi leadership calculated his death would have a resounding political impact, said Toby Matthiesen, a senior research fellow at the Middle East Centre of St. Antony’s College at the University of Oxford in southern England.

 

“It is also supposed to show that Saudi does not tolerate any sign of dissent, whether violent, through demonstrations or through speeches and public appearances,” Mr. Matthiesen said.

 

Mr. al-Nemer, a Saudi national and leading voice behind Arab Spring-inspired Shiite protests that rocked the kingdom in 2011, was executed on Saturday alongside 46 mostly Sunni extremist convicts. Before the mass execution—the largest in Saudi Arabia in decades—Saudi authorities had been under pressure locally to execute al Qaeda militants involved in a violent insurgency between 2003 and 2006.

 

Almost 10 years after the government crushed that campaign, many figures sentenced to death remained in jail. That led some Saudi critics to suggest government leniency was helping foster a new generation of extremists to be recruited by Islamic State.

 

Mr. al-Nemer had been sentenced to death in October 2014 on charges of encouraging foreign meddling and disobedience toward Saudi Arabia’s rulers. Still, the decision to execute Mr. al-Nemer along with the Sunni militants surprised many—including, according to Mr. al-Nemer’s lawyer, the cleric’s family.

 

Saudi Arabia previously cut diplomatic ties with Iran in 1988 after protesters attacked the Saudi embassy, injuring a diplomat who later died of his wounds. Relations were restored in 1991, but they remained strained for years.

 

Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia had already taken a step backward this past September after a stampede during the annual hajj pilgrimage in the holy Saudi city Mecca. Iran was sharply critical of Saudi Arabia’s handling of the incident, which Tehran said killed more than 450 Iranian citizens.

 

Concerns that the execution could become a catalyst for further strife triggered a flurry of diplomatic calls from Europe as well, as European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini spoke separately with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. The French Foreign Ministry said it strongly condemned the executions and called for religious leaders to do everything possible to calm tensions in the region.

 

The execution “risks to be really explosive in the broader region” a senior Western diplomat said.

 

[...]

 

http://www.wsj.com/articles/irans-supreme-leader-vows-divine-revenge-for-saudi-execution-of-shiite-cleric-1451817615

 

World | Sun Jan 3, 2016 4:22pm EST

 

Factbox: Troubled history of Iran-Saudi relations

 

Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations with Iran on Sunday over the storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran, in a deepening crisis between the regional adversaries following the kingdom's execution of a prominent Shi'ite Muslim cleric.

 

Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy early on Sunday and Shi'ite Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, predicted "divine vengeance" for the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, an outspoken opponent of the kingdom's ruling Al Saudi family.

 

Here are some details on the ups and downs of relations over the last 20 years:

 

* 1987 - MECCA

 

-- Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran were strained almost to breaking point in July 1987 when 402 pilgrims, 275 of whom were Iranian, died during clashes in the Muslim holy city of Mecca.

 

-- Protesters took to the streets of Tehran, occupied the Saudi embassy and set fire to Kuwait's embassy. A Saudi diplomat, Mousa'ad al-Ghamdi, died in Tehran of wounds sustained when he fell out of an embassy window and Riyadh accused Tehran of delaying his transfer to a hospital in Saudi Arabia.

 

-- Diplomatic relations were severed by Saudi Arabia's King Fahd in April 1988.

 

* 1999 - BETTER TIMES

 

-- King Fahd congratulated Iranian President Mohammad Khatami on his election victory in 2001, saying it was an endorsement of his reformist policy. Khatami, a Shi'ite Muslim cleric, worked for rapprochement with Saudi Arabia after winning his first landslide in 1997 and ending two decades of tense relations that followed Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

 

-- Khatami visited Saudi Arabia in 1999 on the first visit by an Iranian president since the revolution. The two countries sealed better relations with a security pact in April 2001.

 

* 2003 - REGIONAL RIVALRY

 

-- The invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in Iraq empowered the country's Shi'ite majority and resulted in a shift in its political alignment toward Iran.

 

-- Iran's nuclear energy program deepened Saudi fears that Tehran under Khatami's successor President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was bent on dominating the Gulf region and boosting its Shi'ite populations.

 

-- Saudi Arabia told an Iranian envoy in January 2007 that Iran was putting the Gulf in danger, in a reference to the Islamic Republic's conflict with the United States over Iraq and its nuclear program.

 

* 2011 - ARAB SPRING

 

-- Saudi Arabia sent troops to help Bahrain quash mass pro-democracy protests, fearing the mostly Shi'ite opposition would align with Iran. The two countries later accused Tehran of fomenting violence against Bahraini police.

 

-- U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks showed Saudi leaders, including King Abdullah, pushing Washington to take a tough stance against Iran over its nuclear program, including the possible use of military force.

 

-- Saudi Arabia accused some Shi'ites in its Eastern Province, including Nimr, of cooperating with a foreign state -- meaning Iran -- to sow dissension, after clashes between police and Shi'ites.

 

-- Washington said it had uncovered an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Riyadh said the evidence was overwhelming and Tehran would pay a price.

 

* 2012 - PROXY WARS

 

-- Saudi Arabia became the main supporter of rebels fighting to topple Iran's ally, President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Riyadh accused Assad of "genocide" and Iran of being an "occupying power". Tehran accused Riyadh of backing "terrorism".

 

-- In March 2015, Saudi Arabia began a military campaign in Yemen to stop the Houthis, allied to Iran, from taking power. Riyadh accused Iran of using the militia to stage a coup d'etat. Tehran said Riyadh's air strikes targeted civilians.

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-security-iran-relations-factbox-idUSKBN0UH0PF20160103

 

India Top News | Mon Jan 4, 2016 3:03am EST

 

Syrian rebel group backs Saudi move to cut ties with Iran

BEIRUT

 

Syrian insurgent group Jaysh al Islam on Monday welcomed Saudi Arabia's rupture of ties with Iran, saying Tehran's backing of Shi'ite militias was destabilizing the Middle East and stoking sectarian tensions in Syria.

 

Jaysh al-Islam is a Sunni Muslim group that is part of a new, Saudi-backed opposition body set up with the aim of bringing about peace talks between rebels and the Iranian-backed Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad.

 

The group, whose leader was killed in a Dec. 26 air strike, said Iran was "threatening the security of the region by exporting criminal militias that spread destruction and death and filled with sectarian vengeance".

 

The European Union's foreign policy chief warned Iran's foreign minister on Sunday that renewed tension between Shi'ite Iran and Saudi Arabia's Sunni monarchy could wreck efforts to find a political solution for the crisis in Syria.

 

Saudi Arabia condemned the killing of Jaysh al Islam's leader Zahran Allosuh in an aerial raid in his stronghold east of Damascus, saying his death did not serve the peace process in the war-torn country.

 

Iranian-backed militias and Lebanese Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah are fighting alongside the Syrian army against mainly Sunni insurgents backed by Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states and Turkey in a conflict that has cost over 250,000 lives.

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/saudi-iran-syria-rebel-idUSKBN0UI0KT20160104

 

World | Mon Jan 4, 2016 4:41am EST

China fears regional conflict as Saudi Arabia cuts ties with Iran
BEIJING

 

China said on Monday it was concerned about the prospect of an intensification of conflict in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with rival regional power Iran.

 

Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran on Sunday, responding to the storming of its embassy in Tehran in an escalating row over Riyadh's execution of a Shi'ite Muslim cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, an outspoken opponent of the ruling Al Saudi family.

 

Tension between revolutionary, mainly Shi'ite Iran and Saudi Arabia's conservative Sunni monarchy has run high for years as they backed opposing forces in conflicts across the Middle East.

 

"Like the international community, China is highly concerned about the developments and expresses concern that the relevant event may intensify conflict in the region," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing, referring to the escalation in tension.

 

The safety and dignity of diplomatic personnel should be guaranteed, Hua said.

 

"We hope the relevant parties can maintain calm and restraint, properly resolve their differences through dialogue and consultation and jointly safeguard regional peace and stability," she said.

 

One driving force of support for Islamic State militants fighting in Iraq and Syria has been a rise in sectarian anger, often inflamed by the proxy wars emerging from the political struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

 

The United States, Saudi Arabia's biggest backer in the West, encouraged diplomatic engagement in the region and called for leaders to take "affirmative steps" to reduce tension.

 

The U.S. State Department also urged Saudi Arabia to respect and protect human rights and said Nimr's execution "risks exacerbating sectarian tensions at a time when they urgently need to be reduced".

 

China relies on the Middle East for oil supplies, but tends to leave diplomacy there to other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France and Russia.

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-iran-china-idUSKBN0UI0QY20160104?mod=related&channelName=worldNews

 

World | Mon Jan 4, 2016 5:10am EST

 

Russia says ready to act as intermediary in Iran-Saudi dispute: agencies

MOSCOW

 

Russia is ready to act as an intermediary to help settle the dispute between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Russian news agencies reported on Monday citing an anonymous Foreign Ministry source.

 

"As friends we would be ready to play, if it is demanded, an intermediary role in ... settling the existing contradictions and any new ones that arise between these two countries," RIA cited the source as saying.

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-iran-russia-idUSKBN0UI0TJ20160104?mod=related&channelName=worldNews

 

World | Mon Jan 4, 2016 5:11am EST

 

Iran says Riyadh thrives on tension after relations cut

DUBAI

Saudi Arabia used an attack on its embassy in Tehran as a pretext to fuel tensions, Iran's foreign ministry said on Monday after Riyadh severed diplomatic relations.

 

Iran was committed to protecting its foreign diplomatic missions, the ministry added.

 

Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in the early hours of Sunday after Saudi Arabia executed Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, prompting Riyadh to withdraw its diplomatic staff and order Iranian diplomats to leave the kingdom.

 

The protesters lit fires and smashed furniture in the embassy before being cleared out by the police, who made 40 arrests. No Saudi diplomats were in the embassy. Iranian officials condemned the attack as well as Nimr's execution.

 

"Iran has acted in accordance with its (diplomatic) obligations to control the broad wave of popular emotion that arose," foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said in televised remarks.

 

"Saudi Arabia benefits and thrives on prolonging tensions... (It) has used this incident as an excuse to fuel the tensions," he added.

Ansari said Iranian diplomats had not yet left Saudi Arabia. They were given 48 hours to leave late on Sunday night.

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-security-iran-ministry-idUSKBN0UI0HZ20160104

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Am I the only one sorta enjoying seeing these two camps kill each other? I hope this means limiting terror activities inside that region alone, leaving the rest of the world alone.

 

Defninitely not the only one. They need a good 30 Years' War to reach some badly needed conclusions, and if it's only kept away form the oil facilities I'm fine with it.

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Am I the only one sorta enjoying seeing these two camps kill each other? I hope this means limiting terror activities inside that region alone, leaving the rest of the world alone.

Defninitely not the only one. They need a good 30 Years' War to reach some badly needed conclusions, and if it's only kept away form the oil facilities I'm fine with it.

Muslims have been killing mostly Muslims for the last fifteen years. Terror attacks in the west are more like spill over. Just look at the numbers of attacks and people killed. Attacks outside the arab world seem more like PR in comparison.

 

So they reached the half way point already?

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Am I the only one sorta enjoying seeing these two camps kill each other? I hope this means limiting terror activities inside that region alone, leaving the rest of the world alone.

Defninitely not the only one. They need a good 30 Years' War to reach some badly needed conclusions, and if it's only kept away form the oil facilities I'm fine with it.

It wont be. If the Iran-Iraq war is any guide, they will be the first target because its such a good lever on revenue. The only people who dont like bombing oil targets are us. :)

But only for the price hike in the short term. Those facilities have to be replaced after the war. And who sells refinery equipment? ;)

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Am I the only one sorta enjoying seeing these two camps kill each other? I hope this means limiting terror activities inside that region alone, leaving the rest of the world alone.

Defninitely not the only one. They need a good 30 Years' War to reach some badly needed conclusions, and if it's only kept away form the oil facilities I'm fine with it.

Muslims have been killing mostly Muslims for the last fifteeny years. Terror attacks in the west are more like spill over. Just look at the numbers of attacks and people killed. Attacks outside the arab world seem more like PR in comparison.

 

So they reached the half way point already?

 

FIFY

 

Of course during the period you mentioned it was not a war/wars like the current one in Syria/Iraq/Yemen. Mostly detonating shit among civilians in a bazaar etc.

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Muslims have been killing mostly Muslims for the last fifteenyeen hundred years. Terror attacks in the west are more like spill over. Just look at the numbers of attacks and people killed. Attacks outside the arab world seem more like PR in comparison.

So they reached the half way point already?

 

FIFY

 

Of course during the period you mentioned it was not a war/wars like the current one in Syria/Iraq/Yemen. Mostly detonating shit among civilians in a bazaar etc.

 

 

FIFY even more. :D

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Am I the only one sorta enjoying seeing these two camps kill each other? I hope this means limiting terror activities inside that region alone, leaving the rest of the world alone.

 

I'd like to see some quality footage of 1970's US technology vs 2000's in the form of F-14s vs F-15SAs. Can technology mitigate Saudi general incompetence or will they be taken to the danger zone by Alicat drivers?

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Guest Charles

 

Am I the only one sorta enjoying seeing these two camps kill each other? I hope this means limiting terror activities inside that region alone, leaving the rest of the world alone.

 

I'd like to see some quality footage of 1970's US technology vs 2000's in the form of F-14s vs F-15SAs. Can technology mitigate Saudi general incompetence or will they be taken to the danger zone by Alicat drivers?

 

`If the shenanigans in The Yemen are anything to go by; I for one cannot see Western Mil Tech in the hands of Incompetent Saudi personnel do much other than provide targets for battle hardened al Quds (ex sp) brigades. Now, if the KSA was somehow able to persuade/force Pakistan to provide the cannon fodder, who knows.

 

Charles

Edited by Charles
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Am I the only one sorta enjoying seeing these two camps kill each other? I hope this means limiting terror activities inside that region alone, leaving the rest of the world alone.

 

I'd like to see some quality footage of 1970's US technology vs 2000's in the form of F-14s vs F-15SAs. Can technology mitigate Saudi general incompetence or will they be taken to the danger zone by Alicat drivers?

 

`If the shenanigans in The Yemen are anything to go by; I for one cannot see Western Mil Tech in the hands of Incompetent Saudi personnel do much other than provide targets for battle hardened al Quds (ex sp) brigades. Now, if the KSA was somehow able to persuade/force Pakistan to provide the cannon fodder, who knows.

 

Charles

 

 

That last will not happen. For Pakistan to send enough force to matter it would have to significantly reduce its forces along its border with India. Now, that wouldn't mean war with India and in fact India would probably relocate forces away from the border to keep tensions down. But the fact that Pakistan moved troops without war breaking out would make plain to people in Pakistan how oversized and underused the nation's army is, and that would the threat said army's private empire, which the general's will not risk. Iran would also be able to make trouble in Pakistan, and Pakistan has domestic problems enough already.

 

IMO, there's no offer the Saudis could make to get Pakistan into a fight with Iran. The risks for the government of Pakistan would be too great.

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Well, I for one would like to see IRIIAF F-14s vs KSA F-15s to end the debate which is the better aircraft. :lol:

 

Go Tomcat! :P

As much as I prefer the Tomcat, the KSA F-15 are decades more advanced and do not have such a questionable state of maintainance. And how many flight hours do IRIAF pilots get anyway?

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The Tomcats are limited by airframe conservation and to a lesser extent engine conservation. It is my speculation that in the last few months IRIAF cadre will have been sent to Russia for SU-30 training to allow them to rapidly stand up a squadron of these aircraft. Some will be drawn from the Mig-29 driver community and some from the F-14. The former have experience with Rus aircraft, the latter bring their exhaustive 2 seat experience. The SU-30 is a good Tomcat analog and works well with their tactics and techniques.

 

What we do not know is how well the IRIAF has been able to integrate its legacy US fleet and its limited Rus aircraft. Malaysia has had many issues and runs them practically independently.

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WASHINGTON — The United Arab Emirates has secretly dispatched hundreds of Colombian mercenaries to Yemen to fight in that country’s raging conflict, adding a volatile new element in a complex proxy war that has drawn in the United States and Iran.

 

It is the first combat deployment for a foreign army that the Emirates has quietly built in the desert over the past five years, according to several people currently or formerly involved with the project. The program was once managed by a private company connected to Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater Worldwide, but the people involved in the effort said that his role ended several years ago and that it has since been run by the Emirati military.

Continue reading the main story

Related Coverage

 

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The Many Miseries of Yemeni FamiliesJUNE 24, 2015

Sharif Mobley in 2002.

American Prisoner in Yemen Said to Face Death SentenceNOV. 9, 2015

 

The arrival in Yemen of 450 Latin American troops — among them are also Panamanian, Salvadoran and Chilean soldiers — adds to the chaotic stew of government armies, armed tribes, terrorist networks and Yemeni militias currently at war in the country. Earlier this year, a coalition of countries led by Saudi Arabia, including the United States, began a military campaign in Yemen against Houthi rebels who have pushed the Yemeni government out of the capital, Sana.

Continue reading the main story

The Many Sides of Yemen's Conflict

 

It is also a glimpse into the future of war. Wealthy Arab nations, particularly Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Emirates, have in recent years embraced a more aggressive military strategy throughout the Middle East, trying to rein in the chaos unleashed by the Arab revolutions that began in late 2010. But these countries wade into the new conflicts — whether in Yemen, Syria or Libya — with militaries that are unused to sustained warfare and populations with generally little interest in military service.

 

“Mercenaries are an attractive option for rich countries who wish to wage war yet whose citizens may not want to fight,” said Sean McFate, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and author of “The Modern Mercenary.”

 

“The private military industry is global now,” said Mr. McFate, adding that the United States essentially “legitimized” the industry with its heavy reliance on contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan over more than a decade of war. “Latin American mercenaries are a sign of what’s to come,” he said.

 

The Colombian troops now in Yemen, handpicked from a brigade of some 1,800 Latin American soldiers training at an Emirati military base, were woken up in the middle of the night for their deployment to Yemen last month. They were ushered out of their barracks as their bunkmates continued sleeping, and were later issued dog tags and ranks in the Emirati military. Those left behind are now being trained to use grenade launchers and armored vehicles that Emirati troops are currently using in Yemen.

...

more at

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/26/world/middleeast/emirates-secretly-sends-colombian-mercenaries-to-fight-in-yemen.html

Don't see why they wouldn't hire a few more brigades worth. They have the equipment, and the personnel costs are very manageable for KSA.

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Mercenary units are usually misused and abused and this rapidly undermines their morale and cohesion. The UAE is no different. The mercenary units generally receive the worst equipment and are tasked with the crappiest and most dangerous missions. It's not such an issue in peace time but in a nasty war like in Yemen, you will have trouble refilling ranks.

KSA Coalition is leadership is extremely inept and they have a penchant for burning their allies to preserve their own manpower. Nobody signs on to do folorn hopes for money.

 

The use of TCN (Third Country Nationals in US speak) is especially challenging becuase of language barriers. Arabic armies have poor to indifferent English throught their ranks. If senior leadership has decent command of the language, their lower ranks and signalers may not. This is magnified by non-English speaking TCNs.

 

People in the militaries of the GCC are not great and the good. They are in uniform because they have to be.

 

Ultimately, the Arab mindset is corrosive and does not allow them to get the most out of mercenaries.

 

The use of Pakistanis to bolster the Bahraini internal security apparatus shows the utter lack of legitimacy of the ruling Sunnis. They will be despised for using foreigners to control Arabs, even if they are Shias.

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This is actually working out rather well, for actual Americans; we can dust off the old "American interests first and only" war plan from WW2. That being, let the 3rd world screwheads slaughter each other, then come in and anchor shoot the "winner."

 

I'm still for Trump and Putin getting into a ego contest over who can make the rubble bounce higher. S/F....Ken M

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Well, I for one would like to see IRIIAF F-14s vs KSA F-15s to end the debate which is the better aircraft. :lol:

 

Go Tomcat! :P

As much as I prefer the Tomcat, the KSA F-15 are decades more advanced and do not have such a questionable state of maintainance. And how many flight hours do IRIAF pilots get anyway?

 

 

 

This. the KSA troops may display a lot of incompetence on the ground, but I believe their pilots are US trained and have the equipment which is light years ahead of what the Iranians have. Saudis will see first and shoot first, and they have AMRAAMs. Life of the Iranian air force in that conflict would be short, but fascinating.

 

The main advantage for the Iranians would be their missile force. The Shia in KSA - not so much, any rebellion would result in mass slaughter by the Saudi NG.

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As first S-300 to arrive in Iran in Jan 2016, i think time is running out for Saudis to attack. But anyway i do not think this potential war to be one with dogfights\air-to-air clashes - more likely are missile strikes on oil fields and ports, tanker ships attacks....

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S-300 wil be used to secure critical infrastructure and not parked on the Gulf shore, IMHO. So A2A clashes are not that improbable, deep strikes (by the Saudis) OTOH probably are - that one really requires great competence.

 

Missile strikes, obviously, mainly by Iran, but the Saudis have a few Chinese missiles as well.

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Qatif is already on lockdown. When the videos pop of SANG shooting Shia civvies is going to be very hard for the EU to explain. It also becomes pretext for the Hashid Shaabi etc. to agitate against Saudi and Kuwait. The latter will probably be avoided to embroil the Murricans but the KSA-Iraq border is big and poorly secured. That will require reliable troops to secure. Reliable troops like the SANG who are also needed to quell domestic trouble.

 

They wont use the Royal Guard, who like Saddam's RG are more valuable as a force in being.

 

Iran will not need to initiate any open hostilities. Saudi will find itself under harassment by shadowy and unknown elements. Iraqi Army and security forces are busy fighting DAESH, they have no time to prevent their countrymen from taking pot shots at some Saudis.

 

Kuwait has gone all in with Saudi and is already screaming for US reinforcements. They are in a bad position but as in 91, it's mostly deserved.

 

I don't see any situation in which Mohammed will walk away ahead. If he keeps his head, he will be doing well. Mohammed is like a bad gambler, he keeps upping the ante hoping to cover his losses.

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Back to the oil quickly, it seems to get over looked that China is also a major crude oil producer, beat only by the US, KSA, and Russia.

 

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2241rank.html

http://financesonline.com/top-10-oil-producing-countries-in-the-world-wheres-the-greatest-petroleum-dominion/

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