Concerning the role of London in the Iran-Saudi Arabia conflict.
During the long peaceful postwar period, Great Britain was rather staying overshadowed by the Big Brother across the Atlantic than forced to side of the mainstream road in the world political game. The griping love story with the EU structures also failed to add more strength to the Foreign Office even in the regions that used to be the British Empire domain. The situation was drastically changed after the cabinet of David Cameron came into power in May, 2010. That elegance of the British government which so skillfully managed to bury the foreign ambitions of the French president Nicolas Sarkozy, it is actually worth mentioning as a learning curve to be included into the instruction manuals for future diplomats. Staying fully aware of the tough threat of the Mediterranean Union, the project lobbied by France, able to deprive Britain of control over its military presence along the Gibraltar-Malta-Cyprus line in the Mediterranean, the Cameron government came out with the initiative of the ‘no-fly zone’ over Libya. That was exactly the step to start the NATO mission in Libya, which, when accomplished, resulted in actual ruining of the Mediterranean Union project and British come-back to active Mediterranean policy. ‘In terms of assessing our might we are back into the Mediterranean of 1943’, declared David Cameron summing up the results of the Libyan mission in his speech dated October 19, 2011. Since that time, London has been consistently boosting its participation in the Mediterranean and Middle East regions.
In September, 2014, British military jets started bombing ISIS positions in Iraq and in November, 2015, Britain launched construction of the naval military base in Bahrain. Rather an amusing statement was made by David Cameron in August, 2013. In case of a threat to the Suez Canal due to the conflict on the Sinai Peninsula, he said, Britain and France could establish their control over it. Given the fact that the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom, having the capabilities ranking the second after the United States Navy in NATO, can well manage global military operation on its own, Cameron just left France in the subordinate position of ‘the one bringing munitions during the battle’. We may state that independent French policy started to belong to the past right after the NATO mission in Libya. Paris obediently occupied its place in the stalls of the ‘Atlantic partnership’.
The aggressive foreign policy of Great Britain in the Middle East is aimed mainly at preserving the state of ‘permanent war’ in the region. Actually, the ‘divide and rule’ political tool has been habitually and even traditionally employed by London. Just bring back the memory of the past when British colonizers outlined the borders on the lands they left so that to create the ground for everlasting bloody conflicts there. You must also remember the British persistent effort to split the major EU players just in accordance with the apt expression of Charles de Gaulle who once branded Great Britain a ‘Trojan horse of the USA in Europe’. The British political tool, still effective nowadays, has been successfully used quite recently to add fuel to tensions in the Middle East. Many people accepted as absolutely unexpected the Riyadh’s decision on execution of the Saudi prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr who had been imprisoned for three years at the moment being a highly popular figure among the Shiites of SA and Iran. It was out of the blue for many, but not for Cameron who had personally sanctioned that cynical (though successful) MI6 provocation.
In search of the reasons behind this religious and political crisis we should visit the offices of the key producers of oil and weapons in Great Britain. Tacitly agreeing to the minor role in foreign policy matters, Paris was not at all set to act that feeble vs. London in trade war field. The frontlines at this silent war are running across the Saudi Arabia, as well as Iran, the latter waiting for economic sanctions to be lifted. Once the gold-bearing Project Salaam started skidding a bit, that UK-Saudi cooperation program on the sale of 72 BAE Systems Eurofighter Typhoon jets to Riyadh, when the dealers of the French Dassault company were quick to react offering their Rafales instead. But the strongest greeting of the British teeth was provoked by the impressive commercial landing mission in Teheran (02.03.2014) prepared by MEDEF, the movement of the French entrepreneurs. The French delegation comprised representatives of such companies as: Total (oil industry), Alstom (engineering industry), Renault (car industry), Orange (telecommunications), Lafarge (the production of the construction materials). There was also presented consulting sphere, management of assets, food industry, shipping, construction, legal services, insurance, advertising, pharmaceutics, and banks. Amid this background, the late visit in the summer of 2015 of the British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, accompanied by the representatives of the Royal Dutch Shell company and the Scottish construction firm Weir Group, looked somewhat faded. That was also the case with the results of the commercial negotiations themselves. Iranian ayatollahs agreed to let Shell open its gas stations in the country only in exchange for the company’s commitment to pay its old debt to Iran. Furthermore, the company was put in the position to open those stations alongside with the French Total, on equal terms so to say. To rightly assess the measure of humiliation of London in this issue you should remember WWII. It was due to regular supplies of the Iranian oil that the British Navy had no problems at all with fuel then. Great Britain enjoyed the exclusive partner status and almost all the Iranian oil output was under its surveillance.
So, it’s no wonder actually that Downing Street decided to hold back the French. As it was mentioned above, they started it with the Saudis. In the wake of the thoroughly prepared leak, the chief of the Saudi intelligence Youssef al-Idrisi got the documents exposing the heightened interest of DGSE (The French General Directorate for External Security) to the Saudi Shiites’ problems, which became the breeding ground for the violence of 2011-2012. The ‘Shiite dossier’ focused on the contacts of the charismatic preacher Nimr al-Nimr with the DGSE agents. The reaction was quick to follow resulting in the relations between Riyadh and Teheran sharply worsened, though the Saudi message was meant for Paris actually. We should live and see yet, for the story is still unfolding. Who will be the next victim to be torn into pieces by the claws of the British Lion so ardently rushing to establish its power?