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Indrita Ganguly


Saudi Arabia: The New Soviet Union?

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3 months ago
3 months ago
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On August 9th, 2018, a Saudi Arabian fighter jet dropped a bomb on a busy market place in Dahyan, Yemen. The strike was one of the thousands carried out by Saudi in Yemen, many of which were particularly targeted towards civilians. The bomb hit a school bus and killed 40 children on board. This was an act of war crime committed by the Saudis and the most outrageous fact is that the bomb was actually made in the USA and handed over to Saudis in 2015. But what compels this oil-rich state to carry out organized air strikes in Yemen?

To understand this situation, we have to explore the Cold War in the Middle East. The most famous cold war was a race of arms and scientific development between the USA and USSR (present-day Russia) between 1947-1991. The aftermath paved ways for many cold wars between various states but the most significant with a high toll of casualties in the one, which is currently fought between Saudi Arabia and their bitter rivals Iran.

Iran has been a controversial state since 1979 when the Iranian revolution dethroned the pro-US Pahlavi Dynasty and put on power a religious leader, Ayatollah Khomeini. As Iran was an oil-rich state too, Khomeini’s government soon turned out to be bitter rivals of the Saudi Arabians on political as well as religious grounds. Iran hated Saudis cause of their involvement with the US in arms and oil trade. On religious grounds Iran claimed religious dominance cause of their prevalent Shia population, however, the Saudis thought otherwise cause of possessing both Mecca and Medina in their geographical borders. 

Since then the countries have fought each other but always indirectly on foreign soil. These kinds of warfare came to be known as Proxy Warfare. 

The proxy wars that Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting include those in Syria where Iran is backing Hezbollah and Asad Government while the Saudis are arming Sunni rebels. In Iraq, after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iran funded Shia extremists and terror organizations while Saudi backed Sunni rebel forces. And in Yemen, the Saudis are sending thousands of troops to the Yemen military to counter Iran backed Houthi rebels in a bloody civil war. 

In this elaborate and complex Cold War of the Middle East, similarities can be drawn between Saudi Arabia and the old Soviet Union under Jose Stalin. On the 2nd October 2018 Saudi prince, Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud was allegedly charged for ordering the political assassination of the Saudi journalist for Washington Post, Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. The butchered body of Khashoggi symbolically represented the butchering of freedom of the press, which Saudi Arabians will not fail to do. The radical Soviet-like thinking can be concluded by their policy of public execution and women rights. 

In the midst of all the chaos, the US continues to arm Saudi Arabians for cheap oil. With every war crime and crime against humanity committed by Saudi Arabia, the US stands accused of aiding in the crime. But the question still remains, Is the US helping the rise of terror in the form of an authoritarian, Soviet-like government, the new Soviet Union?

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