The wars for Mecca and Jerusalem have never ended in the historical annals. They’ve continued for several centuries ever since the Kaaba and the Temple were built for worship of God. The war has taken a new twist in the 21st century as Dr Samuel Huntington hypothesised in his 1993 book “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order” that people’s cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War multi-polar world. Quarter century later, his hypothesis is being tested.
A brief introduction is warranted for the regional players and objectives, both geopolitical and religious.
I read an article by Ishaan Tharoor on The Washington Post of June 7, 2018 titled “The Persian Gulf Crisis has no winners except Iran” in conjunction with another by Eric Margolis titled “Trump’s War on Iran“. Iran is at the center of the neo-con bandwagon now that Mr. Trump has relented to Israel to scrap the JCPOA N-deal. Qatar’s Defense Minister Khalid Al-Attiyah asked an international security conference in Singapore in early June 2018 if “it is wise to call the US and Israel to go and fight Iran? Iran is next door.” Another senior Qatari official said that Qatar will not be dragged into the conflict with Iran and to start a war with Iran will be very dangerous.
Andrew Korybko (a political analyst member of the expert council for the Institute of Strategic Studies and Predictions at the People’s Friendship University of Russia) has suggested the Golden Ring that comprises “The Astana Tripartite of Middle East” between Iran, Turkey and Russia, “The Multipolar Tripartite” between Russia, China and Pakistan and the “The Multipolar CENTO” alliance between the three Muslim geopolitical powers Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. The five Great Powers involved have come to perceive the US as a threat, so they’ve accordingly decided to balance against it through the creation of these three Regional Security Complexes that form the pillars of the Golden Ring.
Pakistan is the only Muslim nuclear power in the golden ring. It was a close ally of the US for decades until the military leadership realised that the country was being bullied every so often by an unreliable ally. The result is that both Trump and his second in command Mike Pence have put Pakistan “on notice” in the same terms as Iran. Pakistan is now left with no choice but to align with Russia and China. Korybko’s interesting article “Pence’s Anti-Pakistan Declaration could unite the Golden Circle” can be read on Oriental Review.
I tend to agree on most aspects with Mr. Korybko except that the threat is not the US. It is rather Israel which poses an existential threat to the golden ring as it aspires to reshape the Middle East to its religious advantage by taking the first step in convincing Mr. Trump to have Jerusalem recognized as the eternal capital of Israel and undertake the reconstruction of the Temple of Solomon exclusively secured for Jewish worship as the Kaaba is for Muslim worshippers. It has been a known fact that Israel intends to demolish the two Muslim holy structures on the Mount to pave way for the construction of the third Temple, an impossible task as the Muslims would unite against the demolition. Israel requires the support of the US and the alliance of the two weaker Arab regional political players Saudi Arabia and UAE and the third Egypt to achieve its objective by fomenting a Muslim civil war between the Multipolar CENTO powers and regional Arab players. To achieve that objective, Israel first needs to create a chasm along political and economic grounds, starting with the weakest who demand war to end Iran’s growing influence; that is not going to be easy while Iran is part of the golden ring and not forgetting its allies Hezbollah, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
Fast rewinding to pre-Islamic Arabia some 1500 years ago, Mecca was under the control of the Quraysh tribe (only a dozen or so were aristocrats). The 360 odd tribes each had their idol gods stationed inside the Kaaba, the House of God whose foundations were established from times immemorial. History has it that a great Christian king Abraha from Yemen invaded Mecca in 570 AD (also the year of the birth of Mohammed from the Quraysh sub-clan of Hashim) with a hoard of elephants to destroy the idols within it and collaterally the Kaaba. His mission failed for no other reason than that the task of destroying the idols would symbolically belong to Mohammed and the establishment of Islam as the dominant religion and way of life of Arabia with judicial and socio-economic rights for all humans, including women. The Quraysh tribes sensed a threat and turned to the Jews (money lenders to the Quraysh aristocrats) for alliance in thwarting Islam’s growing influence across Arabia. The Quraysh waged several battles against the followers of Mohammed culminating in the Meccan victory when the Quraysh were finally defeated in 630 AD. Mohammed entered Mecca and destroyed the idols in Kaaba. Many of the aristocrats accepted Islam reluctantly and were termed Mushraqeen (hypocrites).
Fast forward to the modern Arabia now ruled by the remnants of the aristocrat Quraysh, the Al-Saud family members are fragmented under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) Al-Saud who has usurped the rightful family rulers and is desperate to establish power and control in the country while alienating the powerful clergy. To achieve that, MBS has turned to Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ) Al-Neyhan, Crown Prince of UAE and Egypt’s military ruler as well as to the US and Israel for support to contain Iran’s growing influence in the region. However there are deep fractures that exist among the Saudi aristocracy since MBS usurped the monarchy. To best understand those fractures, Dexter Filkins published a detailed article in The New Yorker titled “A Saudi Prince’s Quest to Remake the Middle East“. Israel fully understands the political, cultural and economic fault lines of the kingdom from an ancient (pre-Islamic) perspective and hopes to exploit it in its favor if the US and Israel manage to foment the civil war. It is incomprehensible but not impossible that the US will directly engage in a war on Iran.
The civil war or a direct assault on Iran could well lead to the downfall of the Quraysh houses of Al-Saud and Al-Neyhan, the conquest of both Mecca and Jerusalem by the Multipolar CENTO (it is expected that Russia and China would both provide the necessary military support as Russia did for Syria) and the end of the American empire. Huntington’s second part of the book is the remaking of the world order- an era of socio-economic and judicial reforms, equality and rights for all human beings on earth. History is uncannily unforgiving to those that indulge in tyranny, tumult and oppression.