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Saudi Arabia Seeks to Annex Kuwait: Analyst

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TEHRAN, April 3 (ICANA) – Kuwait recently sentenced three soldiers to death for collecting secret information from US military bases in the country and accuses Iran of involvement in the case. Iran has refuted all such allegations as baseless.
Sunday, April 03, 2011 12:45:13 PM
Saudi Arabia Seeks to Annex Kuwait: Analyst

Press TV Talks with Ali al-Ahmed, Director of IGA in Washington about why Kuwait has made the accusation and the strength of Saudi Arabia's influence in Kuwaiti politics.


Q: Let's start with a review of the basic relationship that exists between Kuwait and Iran - If you could recount some of the events and how they have formed the fundamentals of this relationship?

Al-Ahmed: It has been a long relationship and Iran has influenced the growth of Kuwait greatly. The ruling family of Kuwait came from Iraq and has Iranian roots. Kuwait was carved into a state due to the influence of Iranian culture hence a lot of Kuwaitis are of Iranian decent.

This culture has affected food and music and even social attitude. One of the reasons that made Kuwait a state that has a constitution is due to the influence specifically of Iran and also Iraq. Other Arab countries did not have the idea of an elected parliament or a constitution.

After the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, Kuwait took a hostile action against Iran by supporting Saddam Hussein in the Iran Iraq war (1980-1988), by providing funds and logistical support. Iran did nothing to respond to that in fact they were very nice to the Kuwaitis.

When Kuwait was occupied by Saddam's army in 1990 Iran through its full support behind Kuwait and hosted thousands of Kuwaitis and assisted in the liberation of Kuwait from Saddam's forces. From the first hour they denounced the occupation whereas Saudi Arabia on the other hand took three days to even deal with the fact that Saddam had taken over Kuwait.

Kuwait is sandwiched between Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia and thus sometimes it is in the interests of Kuwaiti leadership to give the impression that they are siding with one side against the other. In this recent case of the alleged spying ring, it is one of the manifestations of that relationship.

Saudi Arabia would like to keep Kuwait or annex the territory; if not the territory then at least through hegemony of its policy and what is happening now is we see an increase in Saudi hegemony in the [Persian] Gulf, in Bahrain, and in Kuwait where there are Saudi arms and influence in Kuwaiti parliament - members pushing for Kuwait to be annexed and to form part of Saudi Arabia under the guise of a [Persian] Gulf unity whereby Saudi Arabia would be the leader.

A number of members of parliament in Kuwait are Saudi agents basically and the Kuwait leadership has fear of this. In fact, last year one of my sources said that the foreign minister of Kuwait said in a private setting that the Saudi threat is the greatest threat against Kuwait. They want to annex us, they tried to invade us and Saudi Arabia holds part of Kuwait in the hands of Saudi forces basically occupying part of Kuwait.

The leadership therefore wants to balance Saudi pressure. Kuwait publicly said that they would not send forces to Bahrain in a way defying the Saudi campaign- they sent those forces privately instead, but did not publicly acknowledge it.

Q: It seems that Saudi Arabia is proving somewhat successful in the pressure it is exerting in Kuwait. Examples are the case where the Iranian foreign minister has dismissed Iranian involvement in the Kuwait spy ring as a conspiracy; and also looking at the bigger picture taking into account regional uprisings.

More recently the relationship between Iran and Kuwait has been positive; President Ahmadinejad received a congratulatory letter from Kuwait on winning the 2009 election - So how do you see this situation progressing?

Al-Ahmed: In Kuwait now there are two camps- that of the prime minister who has visited Iran and signed numerous bilateral agreements and was welcomed in Tehran with big fanfare. This policy has angered Riyadh as the prime minister has not made the effort to travel to Riyadh.

He was a former ambassador and realizes, based on the history of the Iraq invasion that Iran is probably the best security for Kuwait because it did not try to invade it, unlike Saudi Arabia. Iran has not tried to buy the Kuwaiti parliament and push down the civilian population of Kuwait trying now to undermine democracy in Kuwait by bringing in Saudi norms, culture and laws. He is on one side.

The other is made up of the Saudi allies in parliament, the business community and in the media there. Saudi Arabia is now in the process of spreading its influence over the smaller [Persian] Gulf countries because the Saudi's feel it is part of their historical land and it is a tool that they can use against Iran.

Q: If we look at the case of Bahrain it seems that Saudi has taken a more active role whether it was invited or imposed itself on Bahrain; and at the same time it is attempting to discredit Iran. What is your take on that?

Al-Ahmed: The Saudi monarchy has played this game for about 30 years of using the sectarian card and the ethnic card trying to distance the Persians and the Arabs; the Shia and Sunni divide they are also exploiting.

This is because the Saudi monarchy cannot survive in normal circumstances. Saudi Arabia has lost, in the past years, their influence in Lebanon and in Iraq and they are about to lose their influence in Yemen so they are holding dear to places like Bahrain and Kuwait. They hate the fact that Nasser Mohammad is the prime minister of Kuwait and in the past few years their agents in Kuwait have been trying to topple him because he happens to think that Iran is not an enemy of Kuwait.

Blaming Iran for various things is the easiest way for Saudi Arabia to hide the clan's real plans for all the [Persian] Gulf countries.

Q: The US hasn't played the hand to blame Iran for the Middle East uprisings in order to discredit Iran so it does seem like Saudi Arabia is using that as a scapegoat when their policies fail in respect to the dominance they want to have in the region. Would you agree?

Al-Ahmed: Well, the US and Saudi Arabia are basically reading from the same sheet. The Saudi monarchy has built up a lot of influence in Washington DC through spreading its money around in Washington and in New York to receive favorable policy positions. And the policy position they have been able to so far sell is that Iran is a threat to us (Saudi Arabia) and to you and so they want to cut the Iranian hand from the [Persian] Gulf.

So anything that may be working against the ruling family even it was a Sunni uprising the first thing they say is that it is Iran that is moving these people. In fact, Saudi Arabia told US officials that al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia is being funded and directed by Iran - which is ridiculous, but this is how far they are willing to go to convince the Americans.

And the Americans, even if they know the Saudi's are lying to them, when the money comes they are willing to come on board. So they like to get the money and work against Iran at the same time even at the cost of America.

Q: Isn't Saudi Arabia now telling the US to leave this region to us, we're going to take care of it? Is there a rift or are they working together in cooperation whereby Saudi must get approvals or green lights from the US?

Al-Ahmed: Saudi Arabia is taking the lead in the region. US policymakers tend to trust the Saudi monarchy in these things and that's why they supported the attacks on civilians in Yemen a year and a half ago - they provided them with logistics and ammunitions to do that; even if the positions are wrong.

The US forgave Saudi Arabia for September 11 Terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, and again they looked the other way when hundreds of Saudi suicide bombers were killing American soldiers and civilians in addition to thousands of Iraqis in Iraq.

Here what we see in Yemen and in Bahrain is another indicator of how much the US is willing to look the other way - it's because the policymakers in the Pentagon and the State Department are benefitting themselves - to them it is a business proposition where they expect to get paid by the Saudis, even if it works against long term US interests, which we could take the case in Bahrain.

It will fail I believe because the people in the region are going to realize that the problem is not Iran. It is ridiculous that governors in the [Persian] Gulf are willing to bring in American troops to their country and then they refer to Iran as a foreign intervention - all these [Persian Gulf] countries have foreign troops and foreign bases. So it is a matter of political expediency trying to use ethnic and religious divides to stay in power. To justify their failed policy they have to blame somebody and that happens to be Iran at this time.

Q: We've seen positive overtures coming from Egypt towards Iran since the downfall of the Mubarak dictatorship - How do you see the reactions by US and Saudi Arabia witnessing this?

Al-Ahmed: Saudi Arabia would like to see the continuation of a weak Egypt. Egypt now has a chance to be friends with the main players in the region, which includes Iran and Turkey. Iran, Turkey and Egypt have shaped the Middle East and should come together.

Iran's advice to Egypt will help it become a great country like it used to be before it was affected by countries like Saudi Arabia. These countries won't play the cards of sectarianism and religious divide and if they work together they can dislodge foreign interference in the region.

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