Saudi Arabia fears Iranian influence – its Bahrain intervention has echoes of the Soviet reaction to the 1956 Hungary uprising
Democracy is arriving in the Middle East, albeit slowly. But what is making progress at a much faster pace is the cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Some described the fall of the Mubarak government, preceded by the fall of the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia, as the Middle East’s Berlin Wall moment.
The parallels with the cold war in Europe do not end there.
There are also similarities between the entry of Soviet forces into Budapest in November 1956 to put down a popular uprising and the Saudi decision to send forces into Bahrain on 14 March this year.
The Soviets were worried that communist Hungary might fall into the hands of their western cold war adversaries, and thus felt it necessary to send their forces to put down any such initiative. The new Saudi strategy is based on similar calculations. They sent their forces into Bahrain because they felt that if the Shia uprising succeeded, it could turn the country from a Saudi friend into an ally of Iran.
The Saudi decision to risk the lives of its own soldiers in Bahrain is a sign of how seriously they view the situation. It is a departure from the old strategy, where the Saudis paid others to do their fighting for them – as with the Saudi financing of Saddam Hussein’s war against Iran between 1980 and 1988.
As far as the Saudis are concerned, the gloves are off and this means that the Middle East’s version of the cold war is intensifying.
Read the entire article at Iran and Saudi Arabia cold war has entered a new era