By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi.
Despite my serious reservations about IMAFT and Gen. Raheel’s role, if the die is cast, here’s some unsolicited advice for Gen. Raheel.
Gen. Raheel, four fundamental factors will drive coherence in developing a narrative to bring Saudi Arabia and Iran, closer .
1. The biggest enemy both face is Daesh. Not each other. This is the fundamental issue on which there can be convergence of each country’s national interests.
Therefore Gen. Raheel can align both countries to ensure that IMAFT must fight DAESH as its #1 enemy.
2. The grave danger is that a post Assad Syria will likely fall into DAESH hands. DAESH will get rid of the so called “Rebels” in short order.
Syria in the hands of Daesh will be catastrophic for both Saudi Arabia and Iran and lead to massive instability especially within Saudi Arabia, and heightened conflict in the Region which will engulf Iran and others.
Hence Saudis must not play into the hands of the Trump administration and or to their desire for Regional domination and push to remove Assad. They can move against Assad once the DAESH threat is eliminated.
3. Similarly an even greater threat to regional and world peace is a post Al Saud, Saudi Arabia, in the hands of ultra right wing Wahabi extremists of the DAESH ilk, governing Nejd and Hijaz.
This will not only be catastrophic for Saudi Arabia as we know it today, but also for Iran, the entire Region and the World.
Therefore it is not in Iran’s interest to deliberately keep stoking the fires of unrest in and around Saudi Arabia to destabilize the country and in that process attempt to remove the Al Saud ruling
Hence it is imperative that Iran immediately stop interfering in Bahrain, Yemen and the Shia majority eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia to try and destabilize Saudi Arabia and increasing Saudi belligerence towards them.
In fact it is in Iran’s national interest to maintain the Al Saud and avoid actions which stops them from moving towards a more representative and stronger governance structure. Because were the Al Saud ruling family to fall and be replaced by a DAESH like dispensation, their first target would be Iran.
4. It is in the interest of Saudi Arabia to move towards a strong constitutional monarchy, like Kuwait, Morocco or Jordan, to stave off the extremists within its borders and provide opportunities to those Saudis who are as anti extremism as most Muslims are.
The Saudis need a ruler like their founder, Abdul Aziz, to put the extremist religious establishment and the extremists in the country to permanent sleep. Much like what he did to the Wahabi Ikhwan in 1929 in the Battle of Sabila.
The one person who can do this today is the Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Iran must court him and engage him and encourage him.
In summary, Gen. Raheel has a clear agenda ahead of him for IMAFT and his role as a peacemaker and an interlocutor between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
1. Fight Daesh.
2. Stop Saudis from efforts to remove Assad for now.
3. Stop Iran from trying to destabilize Saudi Arabia.
4. Help the Saudis crackdown on the Daesh type extremists with Saudi Arabia.
If Gen. Raheel can start conversations between Saudi Arabia and Iran on the above fundamentals and stop them from fighting each other and make them realise that their biggest enemy is DAESH and extremism, he would have done a great service to both countries and the cause of Muslims.