World View: Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan Seek ‘Sunni Unity’ Versus Iran

AP Photo/Saudi Press Agency
AP Photo/Saudi Press Agency

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan seek ‘Sunni unity’ versus Iran
  • Turkey’s Erdogan shuts out Al-Sisi and Egypt from discussions
  • After a year, experts still guessing about Malaysia Airlines 370

Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan seek ‘Sunni unity’ versus Iran

Erdogan and Salman meet in Riyadh on March 2 (Reuters)
Erdogan and Salman meet in Riyadh on March 2 (Reuters)

Iran’s influence in the Mideast has been increasing rapidly in recent weeks:

  • Iran is openly taking the lead fighting against the Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in both Iraq and Syria, with the support of Hezbollah. This puts an Iranian force to the north of Saudi Arabia.
  • In Yemen, the Iran-backed Houthis are consolidating their control of Sanaa, as Iran begins direct flight between Tehran and Sanaa, with the threat to supply the Houthis with men and weapons. This puts an Iranian-backed force to the south of Saudi Arabia.
  • It is widely believed in the Mideast that Barack Obama is going to sign a deal with Iran that will permit the development of nuclear weapons, something that is particularly threatening to Saudi Arabia.

These fast-moving events are triggering fast-moving policy changes, and sharpening the Sunni-Shia sectarian divide in the Mideast, as it heads for a sectarian war.

Last week, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan traveled to Saudi Arabia’s capital city Riyadh, and on Monday met with the new King of Saudi Arabia, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to Riyadh later last week, also to meet with King Salman. According to press reports, the main subjects of discussion were plans for Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, along with other countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), to develop strategic plans to seek “Sunni unity” to oppose Iran and, at the same time, to fight ISIS.

The meetings will no doubt reaffirm previous agreements for Pakistan to supply Saudi Arabia with nuclear weapons and nuclear-capable missiles, if Iran develops a nuclear weapon.

An additional area of apparent agreement between Saudi Arabia and Turkey is the need for a no-fly zone over Syria to prevent attacks by the regime of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad. Erdogan has repeatedly demanded this, in order to fight both ISIS and al-Assad, while the Obama administration has firmly opposed it, wanting to fight only ISIS. Al Monitor and The Nation/AFP (Pakistan) and Debka

Turkey’s Erdogan shuts out Al-Sisi and Egypt from discussions

As we reported last week, Egypt’s president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi was also in Riyadh last week visiting King Salman, but their paths did not cross.

When Erdogan was asked whether he met with al-Sisi, he responded, “You’ve got to be kidding.” Erdogan is still furious at al-Sisi for the 2013 coup that ousted Egypt’s first popularly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, along with his Muslim Brotherhood government. “After the coup, I cannot justify sitting at the same table with him,” he added.

Turkey’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood has been a source of tension in the region, negatively affecting Turkey’s relations not only with Egypt but also Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Salman’s predecessor, King Abdullah, who died in January, was firmly opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood, and sided with Egypt. However, Salman appears to be moving away from Egypt and moving closer to Turkey, which could mean a change in policy towards the Brotherhood.

There is concern in Egypt of a cutoff of the billions of dollars of aid that has been coming from Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait since the 2013 coup, if Salman turns against Egypt.

Long-time readers are aware that about ten years ago I predicted, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, that China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries would be the enemies of India, Russia, Iran, Israel and the West in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war. This prediction was completely reasonable based on a generational analysis that I’ve explained a number of times, but even so, ten years ago, this prediction seemed fantastical. So it’s been quite startling, particularly in the last year, to see this prediction come closer and closer to fruition, step by step.

However, the role of Egypt in this alignment has yet to be determined. Recent trends indicate that Egypt will be aligned with the West rather than the Sunni Gulf countries, but it’s also possible that Egypt itself will be split into warring factions. Al Ahram (Cairo) and Yeni Safak (Turkey) (trans) and Today’s Zaman (Turkey)

After a year, experts still guessing about Malaysia Airlines 370

It was a year ago, on March 8, 2014, that Malaysia Airlines flight 370, on a trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, simply disappeared, and has has not been found yet.

What I found most bizarre was the coverage of the disappearance by people who had no clue what had happened. CNN was the most spectacular about this, with 24-7 coverage. One “expert” would say it had crashed into the South China Sea, another said it was hijacked and had landed in the Mideast, and another said it was in the water just south of India. It was one meaningless guess after another, filling up hours of television. I turned it off pretty quickly, but not before wondering why the experts didn’t just say that the Martians had gotten it, and leave it at that.

Still, the incident was a tragedy for Malaysia and for Malaysian Airlines. The families of the passengers are still waiting for some word, any word, about whether their loved ones had somehow survived, or were confirmed dead. China’s official media criticized the Malaysian government’s apparent incompetence in handling the investigations, and there were demonstrations outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing.

And, of course, Malaysia Airlines suffered another disaster several months later, when Russian-backed anti-government militias in eastern Ukraine shot down Malaysian Airlines flight 17, using a missile supplied by Russia. Malay Mail Online and New York Daily News

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egype, Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Abdullah, Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, Nawaz Sharif, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Hezbollah, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Houthis, Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC, Bashar al-Assad, Mohamed Morsi, Muslim Brotherhood, United Arab Emirates, UAE, Malaysia, China, Malaysia Airlines flight 370, Malaysia Airlines flight 17
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