2016 Archives

Expert: Escalating conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia benefits ISIS and nobody else

January 7, 2016

Robert Jordan
Robert Jordan

Media Contacts:

   Kenny Ryan
   214-768-7641
   khryan@smu.edu

   Kim Cobb
   214-768-7654
   cobbk@mail.smu.edu

DALLAS (SMU) – Initial reports that Saudi Arabian military jets bombed Iran’s embassy in Yemen are now in question. It appears a home of ousted president Saleh was the true target across the street from the embassy – but former American Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Robert Jordan says the close strike is still a dangerous escalation in a conflict that’s good for ISIS, and bad for everybody else.

“As these struggles intensify and escalate, it creates more of a vacuum in Iraq and Yemen for ISIS to come in and spread its influence,” says Jordan, now a diplomat-in-residence at Southern Methodist University (SMU). “ISIS is trying to divide the Sunni and Shia more than they’re already divided. This conflict allows ISIS to recruit more and attack western countries, including the U.S.”

To Americans, this week’s escalations – Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shiite Cleric, an Iranian mob’s torching of Saudi Arabia’s embassy, and today’s air strike – might appear to have come out of the blue. As Jordan explains, Saudi Arabia’s actions have been a long time coming.

“The Saudis are hopping mad,” Jordan says. “Iran subsidizes Shiite rebels in Yemen, Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Shiite protests in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province and Hezbollah in Lebanon – and it has increased influence in Iraq.”

“The Saudis feel encircled by Iran,” Jordan adds. “They feel America has abandoned them, they have to look out for themselves and they have to take harsh measures.”

If calmer heads don’t prevail, Jordan warns further escalation could lead to acts that will be felt worldwide.

“This could escalate dramatically to a blockade of the Strait of Hormuz or attacks on Saudi oil fields,” Jordan says. “We had similar destabilizing events right before World War 1 that led to a world war due to miscalculations various parties made. We’re not at that point now, but we have to keep a close eye on it.”

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