Recent years have seen two-front aggression of Iran. One comprises of series of its proxy involvements in bid to confront Israel in future, and on the second front, it is eager to undermine Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty by supporting Houthi rebels of Yemen with high tech weaponry, an allegation that Tehran always deny but most of Independent Analysts are now convinced that Iran is the driving force behind the onset of unrest in Yemen.
Iran is supporting Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria by sending fighters to Syria. It’s building ‘axis of resistance’ against Israel from Iran to Syria and Lebanon. On the other side, Saudis have seen several episodes of missile firings towards their land by Houthi rebels of Yemen. Last week, seven missiles fired by Houthi rebels were intercepted and destroyed in the air by Saudi Air Defense Systems. The kingdom puts the number of ballistic missiles fired at it by Yemen’s Houthi rebels over the past three years at 90. Saudis blame that these missiles are of Iranian origin. In retaliation, Saudis are smashing Yemen’s cities with heavy bombardment.
This two-front aggression of Iran has entirely changed the geostrategic environment of Middle East. It has enforced an awkward alliance being developed against Iran, i.e., Saudi Arabia and Israel. To meet the common enemy, Saudis and Israelis are growing ties. Along with Saudi Arabia, other neighbors have also started showing soft corner for Israel, to contain Iran’s expansionist tendencies. It should be remembered that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Libya and many other Arab countries had been bitter enemies of Israel in past. Most of these countries have warred with Israel in history also.
Bellicose rhetoric against Saudis often launched by Iran’s officials has raised alarm in Riyadh to secure its sovereignty at any cost, even by befriending Israel.
Saudi tilt towards Israel has created a sense of hopelessness among Palestinians. They feel abandoned by their Arab supporters, while another supporter Iran is focusing more on dreaming of attacking Saudi Arabia. Saudis and Iranian officials often trade threats that stoke ire on both sides.
Iranian nightmare has dragged Saudis to change their ideology in several ways. To seek better terms with anti-Iran countries like the United States and European countries, Saudis are shifting on liberal track to appease western countries. They are spending billions of dollars to procure latest war machines. Now, for the first time in history, Saudis have opened its airspace for Air India to overfly its territory to reach Israel. Before, no flight to-and-from Israel was allowed to overfly Saudi Arabia. There are reports that Israel is also seeking for gaining overfly permission from Saudis for its airline.
Saudi-Iran heightened tensions pile up pressure on Pakistan also. Being a close friend of Saudi Arabia and neighbor of Iran, Pakistan has to walk tightrope to keep the balance because Iran has given sufficient space to Pakistan’s arch-rival India at its soil, orchestrating a complex geostrategic scenario.
Iran’s expansionism among Middle East countries has fuelled sectarian conflicts. Saudis also respond in tit for tat manner. The result always comes in the form of blood of tens of thousands of Muslims, from Syria, Iraq to Yemen. In past Saudis and Iranians, both were enemies to Israel and in fact, Israel used to be vigilant on two fronts but now two front aggression of Iran has relieved Israel a lot.
The escalating Saudi-Iran rivalry is benefitting only Israel. Israel has been relieved of almost half threat, posed by Saudis and its allies. Iran’s growing engagement on two fronts is actually strengthening Israel, rather than weakening it.