Saudi Arabia organizes three summits against Iran in full escalation between Tehran and Washington | international


Saudi Arabia has brought together leaders of Arab and Islamic countries in Mecca at three summits that seek to reaffirm their leadership and isolate Iran. Amid rising tensions between the United States and the Islamic Republic, Riyadh accuses Tehran of the latest attacks on oil targets in the region. Before the annual meeting of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), scheduled for tomorrow, Friday, King Salmán convened extraordinary sessions of the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) tonight. Despite the Saudi boycott, Qatar sent its prime minister to a triple appointment.

The meetings, before the GCC and then the League, begin at midnight because of the fast of Ramadan, which breaks only at sunset. But the tone of the same was marked in advance with the intervention of the Saudi Foreign Minister, Ibrahim al Asaf. At a preparatory meeting yesterday, Al Asaf asked his counterparts to reject "the interference of Iran in the region".

Both Saudi Arabia and its closest allies (United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain) hold their neighbor responsible for all sources of instability in the Middle East. Furthermore, they saw with concern their international reintegration with the 2015 nuclear agreement. Donald Trump's arrival at the White House and his withdrawal from that pact gave new life to them.

Riyadh and Tehran support the opposing groups in the civil wars of Syria and Yemen, and compete for political leadership in the Middle East and the Islamic world in general, manipulating not only historical rivalries but religious differences; While the Islamic Republic claims to itself the representation of the Shiite Islam, the Saudi monarchy exercises the head of the Sunni majority. Thus, the high symbolic value of Mecca calls.

Mecca abandons non-Muslims

The choice of Mecca for this triple summit is not accidental. After the triumph of the Iranian revolution in 1979, the Islamic Republic that emerged has questioned Saudi control of the sacred places of Islam and even started to suggest shared management. Then King Fahd responded by claiming to be the Keeper of the Two Holy Mosques of Mecca and Medina, a title also used by his successors, the now defunct Abdalá and the current, Salmán.

However, being a city banned by non-Muslims, it prevents the assistance of the President of Lebanon (a member of both the Arab League and the OIC), the Christian Michel Aoun (who is probably represented by his prime minister, Saad Hariri ). This peculiarity also forces most of the international press accredited for the appointment to stay in Yedda, 80 kilometers away and only 20 minutes in the desert of the AVE. Only Muslim journalists received permission to access Mecca.

The moment also coincides with an escalation of tension between Iran and the United States, described as a psychological war by many observers, but which led to military reinforcement in the area. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have encouraged Washington to contain its rival, but before the battery, both said they did not want a conflict. They have in fact the support of the great power, whose national security advisor, John Bolton, has accused Iran of the recent sabotage of four oilmen (which Tehran denies) and has stated that they will present the evidence in the Council of security the week that arrives at the latest.

However, it is not so clear that the participants' response to the three summits will be unanimous given the divisions existing within it. Starting from the closest neighbors, three of the six members of the GCC (Qatar, Kuwait and Oman) are critical of the confrontational policies promoted by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi and defend dialogue as the only way to overcome differences in region. Even Iraq, which like these three countries has good relations with Iran and the United States, and has offered to mediate between them to calm down in an area of ​​crisis.

It is striking that the emir of Qatar has sent its prime minister, Sheikh Abdallah Bin Naser al Thani, to Mecca. It is the highest representative of Saudi soil since three members of the GCC (Saudi Arabia, Emirates and Bahrain), to which Egypt has joined, boycotted Doha in June 2017. This crisis has left the death toll blocking created in 1981 to promote the security and economic cooperation of the six monarchies of the Arabian peninsula. The presence of Sheikh Abdallah has sparked speculation about a possible reconciliation. Although it does not seem immediate, it would be a great success for EE. UU. which has tried to mediate without success (Washington has nonetheless managed to strengthen cooperation against terrorist financing within the GCC and that all its members participate in joint military exercises).

The summit of the six monarchies will be followed by the 22 members of the Arab League. Incapable of their 74-year history of solving the Palestinian problem, today they are divided by the wars in Syria, Libya and Yemen, and paralyzed by the political changes demanded by the citizens of Algeria and Sudan. Most of their meetings are closed with statements of little practical importance, often after having highlighted the differences between them.

But anyone who will, no doubt, will be the Iranian representative at the OCI summit. The Islamic Republic is one of the 57 members of that organization, but given the current hostility between Tehran and Riyadh, it sent only a general manager, Reza Najafi, to the meeting. His foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, preferred to stay at home after his proposal for a non-aggression pact with his Arab neighbors in the Gulf fell, once again, to ruin.

"No, Mr. Zarif. We do not buy his pose as a good neighbor," he replied to an editorial in a newspaper Gulf News of Dubai last Tuesday, something that is hardly published in the Emirates without the official approval.

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