While all the world is focused on the general chaos in the Middle East and more specifically on the civil war in Libya where Muammar Gaddafi is fighting his just recently Justice Minister and close confidant Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, who all of a sudden he become a liberal freedom fighter heading the Cyrenaica tribesmen (see – LIbyan Civil- War), Iran is expanding their influence and gaining momentum over what was once the pro-American block in the Middle East.
The first time since 1979, two Iranian war ships crossed the Suez Canal, on 02/22/2011, to the Mediterranean heading to the Syrian naval base at Tartus. In the occasion both countries signed a military naval agreement which, in the bottom line, enables the Iranian navy to establish a permanent navy presence in the Eastern Mediterranean, with supply and maintenance provided by the Syrian navy and crews to be replaced via air from Iran from time to time. Today, 03/10/2011, the ships are still in the Mediterranean and it is assumed they are on electronic intelligence gathering mission. The Iranian navy presence is no match to the Israeli or American navy but in no-war times it can cause a lot of dilemmas and troubles by escorting weapon ships to Syria or “humanitarian” flotillas to Gaza Strip for example.
In the Gulf there is a large Shiaa population, most f them Iranian immigrants with families in Iran and religious leaders in Qom. Millions of Shiites in the Gulf Emirates are, at least, inspires by Iran. Under the title of democracy the Shiites are seeking to change the balance of power from the pro-American Sunni ruling families to the Shiaa majority. In strategic Bahrain, under American pressure King Hamad Bin-Khalifa was already forced to compromise with the Shiaa majority (see – BahraIn 2011 Crisis). Unlike Yemen and Libya in Bahrain the unrest reflects much more regional tensions rather than Bahraini internal tensions. It reflects the struggle between Shiaa Iran and Sunni Arab countries in the Middle East. For Saudi Arabia the unrests in the Gulf Emirates were not socially motivated but an Iranian effort to take advantage on the Middle East situation.
In nearby Saudi Arabia the authorities has freed, on Sunday 03/06/2011, the Shiaa cleric Sheikh Tawfiq al-Amer, whose arrest provoked protests and sparked calls for a “day of rage” on next Friday, 03/11/2011, in an attempt to ease the tension, to appease the pro-Iranian Shiaa community in the Gulf and to contain the “rage”. No doubt Iran is shaking the oil well of the West, enhancing their grip on the Western main source of energy and on their way to turn the Arabian Gulf to an Iranian Gulf.
In Iraq, the last pro-American ally Iyad Allawi, the leader of Iraq’s cross-sectarian party, al-Iraqiya, has just turned the position as head of the National Security Council. He said to Al-Jazeera T.V Network, on Monday 03/07/2011, that power sharing (between Sunnis and Shiites) in his country is a myth. In other words it is Iran, eventually, who plays a decisive role behind the scenes (see – IRAQS 4 Tests ).
In Iran itself Iran’s former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, considered relative moderate and an opponent of the Radical Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has lost his position as head of a powerful clerical body, the Assembly of Experts, which selects the supreme leader and supervises his activities, to the radical Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani. Iran’s leadership is now more radical and more crystallized than ever before with much less opposition inside Iran.
At the same time Iran is continuing to arm and support elements in the Afghan Taliban. 48 rockets, manufactured in Iran were intercepted in Nimruz Province, in southern Afghanistan, on 02/05/2011, by a British Special Forces team (see – Talebans New Haven)..