Why Saudi Arabia Can’t Afford to Lose in Syria


Why Saudi Arabia Can’t Afford to Lose in Syria

What is the role that Saudi Arabia has to play in the ongoing conflict in Syria?

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is one of the most outspoken and proactive supporters of Syrian opposition forces. The small nation of Syria doesn’t share a border with the Saudis, yet Saudi Arabia is wholeheartedly throwing its weight behind the rebel forces, both militarily and financially. Long before the United States or Europe openly discussed arming the rebels, Saudi Arabia was shipping arms in. Why are the Saudis so concerned with the civil war in Syria, and what would they gain from a new government? The truth is that Saudi Arabia is less concerned with Assad and more concerned with those who support him.

Syria is Iran’s most important ally in the Middle East. The Saudis understand this, and understand what many nations in the West choose to overlook: that Iran is working to maintain and expand its sphere of influence.

The Saudis fear a rising Iran, which has been increasingly aggressive in establishing its presence across the Middle East and North Africa since the “Arab Spring.” Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (mois) and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force (irgc-qf) are active throughout the Middle East, with the irgc-qf taking an increasingly important role in the Syrian conflict. To contain the spread of Iranian influence, Saudi Arabia knows it needs to address the role that these two organizations play and counterbalance or defeat them.

If Saudi Arabia were to allow Iran to have its way in Syria uncontested, it would risk Iranian influence being maintained all the way to the Mediterranean coast. To prevent the “Shia crescent” from forming a guillotine over their heads, the Saudis must ensure that the nation of Syria is separated from the Iranian proxies on either side of it. Iran has strong influence in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, which is dominated by Hezbollah, the international terrorist organization and an Iranian weapon.

A swift end to the conflict is in the interests of the Saudis, who have multiple fires to put out in the Middle East, fires which Iran is doing its best to fan. Embers of the “Arab Spring” still smolder in Bahrain, where protests against the government are occurring, right on Saudi Arabia’s doorstep. The last thing the Saudis want is to be fighting a conflict on their own turf, sapping their ability to counter Iran in nations such as Syria.

To counter Iran in Syria, the Saudis could send more than just money and weapons—they could send fighters. Ideological warfare in Syria through the use of Sunni militia groups could prove effective, but it runs the risk of inciting long-term violence. There is no shortage of militant groups that hate Shiites, the Assad regime and Iran. The Saudis have the ability to deploy them to Syria, but it would be hard to control them on the battlefield.

This is not the first time the Saudis have encountered this problem. After the founding of the Saudi kingdom in the ’20s, radical militants known as the Ikwan were used to bring the ruler, Ibn Saud, into power. But these militants didn’t stop fighting. They continued their jihad into surrounding nations. The problem remains for the Saudis today. They can send militias to Syria, but they can’t control them.

While Saudi Arabia is the primary Arabic counterbalance to Iran, it lacks the ability to counter Iran on its own. Iran’s mois and irgc-qf are well established in Syria and play a direct role in the fighting. Iran also has the terrorist group Hezbollah at its disposal. Combined, these factors give Iran a formidable presence within the nation and represent an incredibly difficult situation for the Sunni Arabs to handle.

Saudi Arabia lacks the direct influence that Iran has. The Saudis are working to change that by financing and establishing relations with high-ranking members of the Free Syria Army. According to Foreign Policy, Free Syria Army Chief of Staff Gen. Salim Idriss is a close ally of the Saudis and has recently gained “wide-ranging powers” within the Syrian National Coalition.

Another factor of the civil war that works in the Saudis’ favor is the fact that over 60 percent of the population is Sunni. Because Assad and his Iranian sponsors are Shiite, there is more opportunity to get the masses moving against the administration.

Despite these factors, the current situation in Syria appears to be working in Iran’s favor. If the task of countering Iran was left solely to the Saudis, geography and limited resources would severely hamper that effort. The Iranians seem to hold the advantage of influence and positioning. But the situation will not be left to Saudi Arabia to solve on its own.

When Europe voted to lift the ban on arming the rebels, it was a clear sign that Europe intends to play a greater role in Syria and thereby the fight against Iranian influence. This is backed up by the sure word of Bible prophecy. Daniel 11:40 speaks about the king of the north (a German-led European power, as explained in our booklet Germany and the Holy Roman Empire) fighting against the king of the south (Iranian-led radical Islam as explained in our booklet The King of the South).

When Daniel 11:40 is combined with Psalm 83, which talks about the nations that will align with the king of the north after it steps in to defeat the king of the south, we see that Syria will align with Germany! This suggests a radical change from the current pro-Iranian regime. The Saudis are incapable of stopping Iran alone. Watch as Europe steps in to counter Iran and the spread of Shia Islam in the region. This will begin a brief yet terrible time of suffering, but it is all a part of God’s purpose for man.

Ultimately, mankind must learn that it can’t bring about peace by replacing one human government with another. There is only one rulership that can bring peace. It won’t come from a government of men, but from the government of God, soon to be set up on this Earth. At that stage, nations won’t worry about the rise of a different religion, as the Saudis do today; rather, everyone will live under one way of life, God’s way.

For more on the prophetic kings of the north and south, request a free copy of Germany and the Holy Roman Empire and The King of the South.