Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Energy News  

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

In jumpy gulf, Sunni-Shiite tensions rise

by Staff Writers
Manama, Bahrain (UPI) Apr 27, 2011
Bahrain's expulsion of a senior Iranian diplomat on charges he was linked to a spy ring smashed in Kuwait has sharply intensified tensions between the Islamic Republic and its Persian Gulf Arab neighbors in the strategic, oil-rich Persian Gulf.

It has also widened the growing and potentially explosive rift between Sunni Muslims and their centuries-old rivals of the Shiite sect at a time when the Middle East is consumed by political crises from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Sea.

At the same time, this swelling confrontation, largely conducted clandestinely through proxies, has ignited fears that the rivalry between these two gulf titans for domination of the region could erupt into a shooting war in a region that contains around one-quarter of the world's oil.

Bahrain's state media said Tuesday that Hujatullah Rahmani, second secretary at the Iranian Embassy, was declared persona non grata and ordered to leave within 72 hours. Tehran is expected to retaliate by booting out a Bahraini diplomat.

Relations between Manama and Tehran, which has long claimed Bahrain as Iranian territory, plummeted March 14 when Saudi Arabia sent 1,000 troops with tanks into Bahrain to help the 230-year-old al-Khalifa dynasty crush a pro-democracy uprising led by the island kingdom's Shiite majority.

On March 31, Kuwait expelled three Iranian diplomats after authorities uncovered what they said was an Iranian spy ring run by the clandestine arm of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Tehran expelled three Kuwaiti diplomats in retaliation. A Kuwait court had earlier condemned two Iranians and a Kuwait to death for espionage in that case.

Tehran denied that. But the Saudis, along with the other gulf Arab states, saw the Bahrain unrest as part of a covert exercise by Tehran to destabilize Shiite Iran's Sunni rivals amid the political turmoil sweeping the Arab world since January.

Bahrain's monarchy has long been a close Saudi ally. But Riyadh's main concern was that if the Shiites took over Bahrain, Tehran's next target would be Saudi Arabia's Shiite-dominated Eastern province, center of its oil industry, directly across the 16-mile causeway linking the states.

Bahrain is a key regional financial center and headquarters of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, a vital component of the U.S. military presence in the region and protector of the Sunni-ruled monarchies along the Persian Gulf's western shore.

Tehran warned Saudi Arabia, with whom it is locking horns in Syria and Lebanon, that it was "playing with fire" and risked being invaded itself if it persisted in throwing its weight around.

The Saudi intervention jolted relations with Washington, already strained as U.S. power in the region unraveled, creating doubts about the value of American protection.

Riyadh sees the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq as leaving that country, historically a buffer against Persian expansionism, wide open to Iran's embrace.

That would provide a land bridge for invasion by Iran's vastly superior numbers, a bayonet pointed at Saudi Arabia that until Saddam Hussein was toppled by the U.S.-led invasion of 2003 had been denied Tehran.

The Saudis had been appalled, and frightened, at the way U.S. President Barack Obama had abandoned longtime U.S. ally President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt to the mobs that forced him from power Feb. 11.

Since Iran making good on its thinly veiled threats to Saudi Arabia over Bahrain "is unlikely to happen anytime soon (given that the United States would not stand by and allow Iran to attack Saudi Arabia), this can be argued as being yet another hollow threat," the U.S.-based Stratfor think tank observed.

"A more nuanced examination of the situation, however, suggests that Tehran is not just simply engaging in bellicose rhetoric.

"Instead, Iran is trying to exploit Saudi fears. The Wahhabi kingdom fears instability (especially now when it is in the middle of a power transition at home and the region has been engulfed by popular turmoil).

"The clerical regime in Iran sees regional instability as a tool to advance its position in the Persian Gulf region," Stratfor noted.

"The Saudis are also not exactly comfortable with the idea of overt military alignment with the United States. The last time the Saudis entered into such a relationship with the Americans was during the 1991 Gulf War and it led to the rise of al-Qaida."

Share This Article With Planet Earth DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook

Related Links
Powering The World in the 21st Century at

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

HRE announces formation of Homeland Biogas Energy
Langhorne PA (SPX) Apr 27, 2011
Homeland Renewable Energy has announced the establishment of its new division, Homeland Biogas Energy ("HB Energy"). HB Energy focuses on turning animal agriculture waste and other organic waste streams into usable energy for America. The new division develops, owns and operates anaerobic digestion plants capable of producing various forms of renewable energy. Rupert Fraser, Chief Executiv ... read more

Majority of European firms fail on carbon reporting: study

NASA Releases Scorecard On Energy And Sustainability Goals

Coal miners cold on Australia carbon tax

Nonprofits Awarded For Energy Efficiency And Water Conservation

In jumpy gulf, Sunni-Shiite tensions rise

BP raises profits, Gulf oil spill costs

BP logs soaring profits, but upgrades oil spill costs

Scientists Focus on Light Ions for Fast Ignition of Fusion Fuels

Better understanding turbine wakes

Google, Japanese invest $500 million in wind farm

Manitoba wind farm comes online

Alstom Announces Commercial Operation Of First North American Wind Farms

UNI-SOLAR Brand PVs Installed on Eurocopter Logistics Center

Solar power goes viral

Let's Talk About Solar Subsidies in Context

Lubi is World's Most Efficient Solar Device

Risks remain at Japan's nuclear plants

NASA Technology Looks Inside Japan's Nuclear Reactor

TEPCO ill-prepared for crisis: Japan nuclear advisor

Putin wants to export 'world best' Russian nuclear safety

Food vs fuel: the debate is over

Holmen Invests in Biofuel Boiler

Chicken Fat Fuel Emissions Look Cleaner And Greener

Walki Biomass Cover: Improves Drying Process And Energy Content Of Energy Wood

Asia's star ever brighter in space

What Future for Chang'e-2

China setting up new rocket production base

China's Tiangong-1 To Be Launched By Modified Long March II-F Rocket

Turning Up The Gas

Contemporary climate change alters the pace and drivers of extinction

Effect of ocean CO2 on climate studied

Europe prays for Easter rain in worst drought for a century

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement