New Age Islam Edit Bureau
Jan 12, 2016
• Iran’s Death Rows And Protestations!
By Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi
• Muslim countries should ban Trump
By Linda S. Heard
• Starvation: Assad’s new weapon
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
• Memories of days gone by
By Ramzy Baroud
• Madaya siege marks Hezbollah’s eternal disgrace
By Diana Moukalled
• Starving Syria as a weapon
By James Denselow
• Iran: A pariah state
By Hassan Barari
Iran’s death rows and protestations!
Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi
Jan 12, 2016
According to a report issued by the United Nations, the number of executions in Iran at the end of 2015 reached more than 1000 cases — a daily average of about 3 cases per day. The 25 pages report noted the rise in executions in the Islamic Republic during 2015 — the pace and shape of which was unprecedented in the past 25 years.
There were about 700 people on death row, during the first six months of last year alone, while the total number in 2014 amounted to 753, an increase of nearly 40%.
The UN said that the reasons for the recent increase in executions is unclear, and that the widespread use by the Iranian authorities of the death penalty is a clear violation of international law. Most executed were members of ethnic and religious minorities who have been convicted on charges of “anti-God” or “spreading corruption on earth.” They included politicians, Kurds and Sunni Muslims.
The report noted that cases of executions have increased since President Hassan Rouhani took over in 2013. Under his watch, 1,900 people were killed, so far. On Dec. 24, 2015, Iran’s Supreme Court ratified death sentences on Sunni Muslims for “propaganda against the regime” despite not committing any crimes of violence or incitement to murder.
Now, compare these cases to that of the executed in Saudi Arabia. Unlike in Iran, they stood accused of committing terrorist acts. They chose their lawyers, and went through three levels of trials. Relatives, journalists, human-rights organizations and individuals were welcome to attend.
The government presented its cases. Evidences were examined. After years of comprehensive trials, 47 among the accused were found guilty of committing acts of terrors, including killing and inciting the murder of civilians and soldiers. All, except two, were Saudi nationals. Only two were Shiites; the rest were Sunnis. All were found to have advocated a deviated interpretation of Islam. They believed in violence and anarchy as a way of achieving their goals.
The verdict was taken to two higher courts for revisions and ratifications, then went up to the King for approval. All these steps were transparent, and widely published. Iran has been aware of all the above in timely fashion. They protested, warned, and flagrantly tried to interfere, but in one case only — that of Nimr Baqir Al-Nimr.
After the execution, they went bananas. All their noted leaders, from the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamaeni, to President Hassan Rouhani and his ministers and generals, down to Iran’s agents of terror in the region, like Hezbollah’s Hasan Nasraallah, protested, damned, and threatened Saudi Arabia.
These high-voltage enticements led to Shiite demonstrations in Lebanon, Iraq and Pakistan. In Iran, it went further, as protesters attacked, burned and looted the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and the Consulate in Mashhad, under the lenient watch of Iranian security forces. The Saudi Embassy officials called the Foreign Ministry for help three times, day and night, to no avail. Only after it was too late, did special forces arrive and stopped the total destruction of the buildings.
Instead of apologizing to Saudi Arabia, the Iranians continued the verbal abuse and hate speech against it. They didn’t seem to care for the other Shiite in the list or the rest of executed Sunnis. Only Al-Nimr’s execution was protested—Why?
The man had spent ten years (1980-1990) in Iran, where he gave his exclusive allegiance to Iran’s Supreme Leader. This meant he had become a blindly obedient slave to Alwali Alfageeh, the Deputy of the Absent Imam, represented by Ayatollah Khamenei.
Like the Yemeni slave, Abdulmalek Alhouthi, he was primed to be the new Hasan Nasraallah, leading a Saudi version of Hezbollah. Later, he left for Syria, where he received further training and preparation. When he became ready, he contacted the Saudi authorities, gave his allegiance exclusively to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and reclaimed his citizenship.
He was forgiven and allowed to return. His patriotic family welcomed him back, and for many years since, he was quiet — or so it seemed. His children were given government scholarships and senior jobs, his wife was treated for cancer in USA, at state expense, and he was allowed to preach in his mosque peaceful anti-government sermons.
In recent years, Al-Nimr took a different path. His sermons and statements became less peaceful and more inciting. He called for a new Shiite state separated form the rest of the country in the oil-rich Eastern region. Then he called for an armed resistance and led it. Finally, he went underground for months, calling for and leading attacks on security forces. When he was found, he resisted and shot at the police. He proudly admitted all the above in court.
Let’s go back to comparison between the cases of the Sunnis currently on death row in Iran, and the case of Nimr Al-Nimr, dear readers. Your comments and views are most welcome.
Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah.
Muslim countries should ban Trump
LINDA S. HEARD
Tuesday 12 January 2016
Republican front-runner Donald Trump asserts he has many Muslim friends. He probably should amend that statement to “had” instead of “has.”
It’s hard to imagine that any Muslim would be willing to break bread with this hater using bigotry, racism and the politics of fear as vote-getting mechanisms. I haven’t heard any of his so-called Muslim pals speaking up on his behalf.
As if his vitriol-laced statements and policies weren’t bad enough regarding Muslims, he has sunk to new lows. Rose Hamid, an American-Muslim 56-year-old flight attendant attending one of his campaign rallies wearing a T-shirt that read “I come in peace,” was booed by his following. She was asked whether she had a bomb, and forcibly escorted out. Her goal was “to let people know that Muslims were not that scary.”
Asked by a CNN host why she would put herself in that position to be around “those people,” she answered, “Because I don’t want to think of them as those people… I believe that people in all camps are decent people when you get to know them as was evidenced by those people around me who were very lovely people. But it when you get that hateful rhetoric going is what incites people.” She says she feels sorry for them.
Trump capitalized on the incident saying, “There is hatred against us that is unbelievable. It’s their hatred, it’s not our hatred.” Until fairly recently, Trump’s negative attitude toward Mexicans, African Americans and Muslims was seen as mere fodder for academic discussions and food for hysterical media headlines. This is America we’re talking about, after all, a country built on values and equal rights for all.
Surely, someone like Trump didn’t have a hope in hell of reaching the White House! But now we can’t be sure when a quarter of Democratic votes approve of his anti-Muslim ads according to the results of a questionnaire distributed by Mercury Analytics while almost 20 percent wrote that there’s a possibility they might cross-over to the other side.
A new Fox News poll suggests Trump would beat Hilary Clinton; others have the two rival candidates running neck-and-neck. Thankfully, the US presidential election is almost a year away and much can happen between now and then, but the idea of a President Trump in the Oval office can no longer be dismissed as fantastical. If the worse happens, America’s relationships with predominately Muslim countries will likely be in peril especially if he carries through his threat of barring all Muslims from entering the US and creating a database of American-Muslims. Certainly our world would be a far more dangerous place than it already is.
Muslim leaderships haven’t been particularly vocal in response to Trump’s anti-Islamic rhetoric, perhaps because they don’t want to be seen as interfering in America’s internal affairs or they may hold out hope that the Trump factor will end up as no more than a flash in the pan destined to be forgotten in the dustbin of history. I think this is a mistake. The Republican Party establishment, which would like nothing more than for Trump to disappear in a puff of smoke but whose hands are tied because he has threatened to run as an independent if he doesn’t receive the nomination, need waking up to the potential repercussions of their cowardice. The American people need to be led by responsible political parties, which put their country before their own partisan ambitions.
Kudos to the British people who signed a petition that has garnered almost 600,000 signatures calling for Trump to be banned from their country’s shores! Any petition signed by more than 100,000 is eligible to be debated and Jan. 18 is the day that a parliamentary debate will take place. It’s a good move but don’t hold your breath.
Even if British lawmakers were courageous enough to alienate a section of the US public by backing the petition’s sentiments, the final decision still rests with Number Ten. There is little to no chance that Prime Minister Cameron would risk losing the UK’s closest ally even though he has described Trump’s Muslim ban as “divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong.”
Trump’s relationship with Britain is already at breaking point after he told MSNBC that areas of London “were so radicalized that police are afraid for their lives.” London’s Mayor Boris Johnson called his claim “ridiculous” adding “The only reason I wouldn’t go to some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump.” With the specter of the parliamentary debate approaching, Trump has resorted to his usual bullyboy tactics, warning his $1.03 billion investments in Scotland were in the balance.
If Trump is permitted to use threats in order to call the shots when he has no official position, the harm he could do to countries and individuals he perceives as foes is unimaginable and could boomerang to do irreparable damage to America’s economy and international standing. This is why America’s allies including Muslim states should send a strong message to Washington now by blacklisting Trump and his companies. As long as there is silence and no tangible reactions, his winning streak will endure.
Starvation: Assad’s new weapon
Tuesday 12 January 2016
It is not surprising that the Syrian regime is deliberately starving thousands of people because it has been using the same tactic in its prisons and against its opponents as a policy for the past 40 years. Brutality is not alien to Iran whose army generals are managing the war in Syria on the ground and are behind the siege.
It is also not surprising that Hezbollah, an extremist religious organization, arranged for its men to oversee the siege until hunger and death struck civilians in Syria. This is because Hezbollah in Lebanon planted its missiles in the southern Shiite and Christian villages to use their inhabitants as shields and propaganda in its confrontation with Israel in 2006.
Today, 40,000 people are living, or rather, dying in the Syrian town of Madaya. Half of these people sought refuge in Madaya after fleeing from neighboring towns to avoid being killed. They have been prohibited from leaving for the last six months by Assad’s forces and Hezbollah’s militias, which also prohibited the entry of relief teams even though they have run out of food. Tens of people are dying of hunger and the rest have begun to resemble skeletons that are close to their graves. What is surprising is that the world, with its governments, armies, human rights organizations and media did not do anything tangible to stop the crime of death from “mass starvation” which it witnesses.
At the same time, there is a huge international coalition operation, which bombs organizations such as Daesh and Al-Nusra Front because they carried out crimes against humanity which merit war. The question is: Why is there distinction between types of crime and criminals? How can there be silence on the biggest crime — the starvation of 40,000 people to death?
Formerly, the peak of the tragedy in Syria was the bombing of civilians until they were made homeless. Today the peak of the tragedy is the prevention of people from leaving so that they starve to death. The Syrian regime and the Iranians have surrounded the town with barbed wires and planted mines around it so that its inhabitants do not flee. The militias could have at least let them escape and then storm the town in order to seize it from the militants holed up inside it.
Memories of days gone by
Tuesday 12 January 2016
Ali Abumghasib knows little about the current intrigues of the Fatah Movement, or, perhaps, he is just not interested. Although he has dedicated most of his life fighting within its ranks, he never saw his membership in Fatah as his defining identity. For him, it was, and will always remain, about Palestine and nothing else.
Now living in an old, rusty and tiny caravan somewhere in Gaza, Ali has no money, no family, but also no regrets. We spoke at length about his life. He wanted to share his story and I wanted to understand what went wrong in what was once Palestine’s leading movement.
Now that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, who is also the head of Fatah, is fighting an open and covert war to keep his party together, Fatah is facing yet another crisis.
The current struggle to inherit one of the two largest political movement in Palestine (the second being Hamas) promise to be dirty, especially since the Old Guard is losing its grip, as a younger, more vibrant, generation is ready to step in and take over. A split in Fatah could mean the partial or total collapse of the PA, which is dominated by Fatah members. When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently ordered his government to prepare for the possible collapse of the PA, the Fatah leaders immediately took notice, dismissing Netanyahu’s claims and asserting that everything is still under control.
But this is not the same Fatah that Ali had fought for or, more precisely, fought within; because, for the 65-year-old man, with failing health and marks of torture that can be traced all over his body, Fatah was a mere platform that allowed him to fight Israel, with the promise that his struggle would take him, and a million other refugees, back to their villages and homes in Palestine. Since he joined Fatah’s military bases in Jordan, in 1968, refugees have not returned, as their numbers have now exceeded the five million mark.
Ali Abumghasib is a Palestinian Bedouin, from the nomadic tribes that lived in the Bir Al-Saba region in Palestine. In 1948, his family lost everything. His father became a squatter in the land of some Gaza feudalist, herding a few sheep in a pitiful attempt to survive. Ali, who was born in 1951, ran away from home just months after Israel occupied the Gaza Strip (and the rest of historic Palestine) in 1967, without even informing his parents of his decision. The parents died as poor refugees in Deir Al-Balah, in central Gaza, without ever going back to Palestine, without ever seeing Ali again, and without their pride.
This may seem like a typical refugee story, but it is far from that. For Ali’s odyssey that followed was not only compelled by circumstances, but also choices that for the rest of us may seem extraordinary. From Gaza, he sneaked through the “death zone” border area to Israel, then to the occupied West Bank, where he hid in the Hebron hills, before being smuggled with a tribe that escaped the war to Jordan. There, he joined Fatah and, only months later, enlisted in his first mission, code-named the “Green Belt.” The daring operation represented the rise of Fatah, following the collapse of the Arab armies in the 1967 war.
But the sudden collapse of pan-Arabism, following the “Naksa” or “Setback” of 1967, ushered in the rise of Palestinian nationalism, led by Arafat, George Habash and others, who took charge of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and began articulating a unique, unprecedented Palestinian discourse. The new struggle for Palestine had shifted from seeing Palestine primarily as an Arab priority, into one that was essentially Palestinian.
Ali remembers Arafat as the man who managed to restore Palestinian hope after the defeat of 1967. To assert the rise of the new war of liberation, a guerrilla warfare, by the logic of that period, was a must, and Ali fought many battles so that Fatah and the PLO could make it clear to Israel that sealing the fate of Palestinian refugees was far from over. In the “Green Belt,” Ali and 39 other fighters selected from four factions, infiltrated Israel from the Jordanian border, killing several soldiers and capturing two in order to exchange them for Palestinian prisoners.
However, the real rise of Fatah was truly marked in the Al-Karameh battle in 1968, in which the Jordanian Army, together with various PLO factions, took part. True, the Israelis destroyed most of the PLO camps at the Jordan border, but were driven out in what, unexpectedly, turned into an all-out war. Ali fought that war too, and remembers how the morale of the fighters, despite their heavy losses, changed overnight. Soon, however, the empowered PLO factions found themselves in another all-out war, this time against the Jordanian army. The outcome was devastating, not just because it saw the death of thousands and the expulsion of the PLO from Jordan, but the capture of Ali himself. Injured in the civil war, Ali was sentenced to death and was held in Al-Jafr desert prison before he escaped to Syria.
There was, indeed, a time when Fatah and the Hafiz Assad regime got along just fine, but that was a short phase in what later became quite a tumultuous relationship between Fatah and the Assads throughout the years. Ali fought since he was a teenager, and spent most of his life either in battle (as a member of Fatah) or in prison. In all the Arab jails where Ali was held prisoner, he was a guest in Syrian dungeons the longest, staying a total of 10 years. In his last prison stint he was held, along with 80 other people, in a four by four-meter prison cell. Following the Syrian-uprising, which turned into war, he was deported to Lebanon.
That was the same Lebanon where Ali fought the Israelis, and also fought the Phalange Christians. After the PLO left Jordan, Lebanon became the new battlefield. But Lebanon’s protracted conflicts made it an unsuitable host for the PLO. In 1975, Fatah-led PLO factions were at the heart of Lebanon’s civil war, triggered partly by the Phalange massacre in Ein Al-Rumaneh, where nearly 50 Palestinian children were ambushed and murdered. The details of that dirty war are still as fresh in Ali’s memory as if it happened recently. His anger is still palpable, as is his defense of the PLO conduct there.
Ali, despite old age, failing health and the awful scars of bullets and torture marks, insists that if he were to have the chance again, he would fight the Israelis with the same enthusiasm as a young man. In fact, when the Lebanese deported him to Egypt in 2014, and the Egyptians deported him to Gaza a few days later, he tried to volunteer with the Gaza Resistance. The young men respectfully declined. Ali is handsome, but disheveled, with a bushy beard, missing teeth and many wrinkles. When he walks his left foot seems to drag behind him as if it is connected to his torso by mere skin.
Ali Abumghasib may seem like a relic of a bygone era. But the fact is, Ali has remained committed to Fatah’s early revolutionary principles, where the fight was, in fact, for a homeland and not international handouts; for freedom, not false prestige; for national liberation, not useless titles.
Those involved in the current power struggle within Fatah are possibly unaware of who Ali is and of the values, which he stubbornly defends to this day. It is important, though, that they take notice, before all is lost.
Madaya siege marks Hezbollah’s eternal disgrace
12 January 2016
Last week, the media circulated a video of a Syrian boy called Mohammed, who said he had not eaten in days due to the siege on the town of Madaya. “I swear to God I’m hungry,” he said, but his withered face, protruding bones, voice and features were enough to convey the pain he feels due to hunger.
The Syrian regime and Hezbollah have besieged Madaya for months, and prevented anyone from leaving to get food. The siege marks the culmination of the scandal of the recent deal between the armed opposition on one hand, and the Syrian regime and Hezbollah on the other.
The deal entailed a sectarian transfer of people from Zabadani, Kefraya and Al-Foua into Lebanon and Turkey. This evacuation took place at the end of last year, and we are now witnessing new chapters of it.
News, photos and videos from Madaya are gradually emerging. Some reports have highlighted exorbitant food prices, and residents having to eat cats and grass to stay alive. The World Food Organization (WHO) says starvation is a systematic policy practised by the regime and the opposition, and Madaya is suffering the most from this policy.
The media of the regime and Hezbollah are not concerned about the starving people of Madaya, completely ignoring what is happening there. However, as photos of death and suffering emerge, they have fought back by bringing up the fact that armed opposition groups have besieged Syrian towns such as Kefraya and Al-Foua.
The fact that Hezbollah is besieging Madaya cannot be responded to by saying opposition forces are besieging Kefraya and Al-Foua. This despicable explanation, which some are using in order to defend the murder of Syrians by the regime and Hezbollah, does nothing but equate between murderers, though the regime and Hezbollah have done worse than everyone else in Syria.
Hezbollah’s lies in order to justify its defense of a criminal regime and its killing of Syrian civilians are falling apart. Its siege of Madaya will come to an end, but the disgrace that will befall the party as a result of this crime will be eternal.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Dec. 11, 2016.
Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.
Starving Syria as a weapon
11 Jan 2016
Nobody should doubt the tactics that the Syrian regime and its allies will countenance in order to win this war. The horror of Madaya has been told in the pictures of emaciated children and the stories of people forced into eating cats, dogs, grass and whatever else they can find to survive. Starvation can be added to a list that includes chemical weapons, barrel bombs, massacres and indiscriminate artillery use on built-up urban areas.
Madaya had previously seen a single food distribution on October 18 before a stranglehold took place that has now seen huge suffering for an estimated 40,000 residents. In Madaya, 25 miles away from Bashar al-Assad's presidential palace, 23 Syrians, including children, starved to death last month. Others risk landmines and sniper fire to do whatever they can to keep their families alive.
Seen in isolation, the story of Madaya could appear as just another tragic chapter in the story of Syria's bloody civil war. However, the tactics of starvation have both context and history, while lessons can be learned about how media attention and pressure have led to access being promised for aid and desperately needed relief.
Not a new weapon
Starvation is not a new weapon but a tactic from medieval times finding modern applications. Hezbollah's reported role in the siege of Madaya has parallels with the role of militias in the War of the Camps during the Lebanese Civil War.
This conflict within a conflict in the 1980s saw siege tactics applied on Palestinian refugee camps by militias in urban areas, with similar consequences for anything edible.
Pauline Cutting's powerful chronicle of life working as a medic in a camp, Children of the Siege, told of people having to eat insects and even contemplating eating bodies of the fallen in order to survive.
As a tactic, starvation not only weakens your enemy but also places them under increasing pressure to care for civilians within the besieged site. In Syria, it is also an example of collective punishment and the failure of an international responsibility to protect that didn't exist during the time of the Lebanese Civil War.
The international system is haemorrhaging legitimacy and effectiveness every time a civilian dies in a besieged area due to a lack of access to aid. After all, the UN has been pushing for aid to be delivered to civilians for years. The Security Council has passed two resolutions concerning cross-border aid access without permission from Damascus and it has a mandate until January 2017 to do so.
Yet, while Madaya is an extreme example of the effects of siege, other areas are under similar pressures. The UN estimates that 400,000 people in 15 areas are going hungry, while 4.5 million Syrians are living in areas "hard to reach".
Single shipments of aid are not enough and such is the level of malnutrition in Madaya that NGO Doctors without Borders (MSF) is calling for the evacuation of civilians in order to receive life-saving hospitalisation.
While Syrians slowly starve to death, we should be under no illusions as to what this means for the UN system that is seemingly impotent in preventing it.
In the UK, pressure is growing for the military to airdrop aid to support civilians in places such as Madaya. If UN access is continually denied, then the argument is being made that if drops were made for Yazidis in Iraq fleeing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL), why not for civilians in Syria?
Others counter by explaining that the regime's air defence is stronger in areas near Damascus, but then, would the Syrian regime shoot down Western aircraft dropping supplies of civilian aid?
The other lesson from Madaya is that media pressure apparently works in changing regime behaviour in the short term. The Syrian regime has said it will allow aid in - showing that it is good at answering questions that it has posed.
However, media attention and the global outrage it sparks is fickle and short-sighted, and the tragedy of Syria's long war is that without a wider resolution to the violence, one-off deliveries can't truly change things.
Syrians are forecast to soon face temperatures below freezing, and fuel will be added to the list of life-saving items for those surviving under siege. This should give urgency to an international system that should be ashamed of how it has failed to stand up for the people of Madaya.
Aid access and the humanitarian crisis in the besieged areas must move up the agenda of the Vienna process and be an issue to address right from the start of the upcoming peace talks. If these fail, then serious consideration must be given to new ways of ensuring that basic human rights and the laws of war are not footnotes in history, but rather real constraints on the actions of armed groups.
James Denselow is a writer on Middle East politics and security issues and a research associate at the Foreign Policy Centre.
Iran: A pariah state
Monday 11 January 2016
Iran left no stone unturned to undercut the stability of the Gulf countries hoping to bring about a radical change in the geopolitical reality. And yet, much to the chagrin of the ruling elite in Tehran, the geopolitical reality of the Gulf has remained unchanged. In the process, Iran has evolved slowly into a sort of a pariah state that is shunned by the international community.
The most recent developments that surrounded the execution of Nimr Al-Nimr — who was put to death on terrorism related charges — proved beyond doubts that Iran frames its policy in a sectarian language to incite sedition inside Saudi Arabia.
As a revisionist state, Iran’s meddling aims at forcing the region to descend into bitter sectarian conflict. The UN Security Council condemned Iran for not protecting the Saudi diplomatic missions. Obviously, Iran cannot accuse the Security Council of representing the Sunnis. Therefore, Tehran’s attempts to distort the image of Saudi Arabia backfired and Iran became the target of international criticism for failing to protect the diplomatic missions of a key country in the region.
Apparently, Iran may be losing Turkey — a major regional power. Over the past few years, Ankara has tried to mitigate the impact of bilateral Syrian crisis on the bilateral relationship with Tehran. In fact, it tries hard to compartmentalize its relationship with Tehran by maintaining the economic relationship. Yet, the barbaric attacks on the Saudi diplomatic missions pushed Turkey to take side in the conflict.
At a broader level, it is clear that Saudi Arabia is not looking for a war with Iran. But it seeks to balance Iran’s growing power in the region. Hence, severing diplomatic relations with Tehran came as part of Saudi strategy to remind the world that Iran is neither neutral nor positive in its approach to the region’s many conflicts.
Over the last few days, two things have manifested. First, Saudi Arabia enjoys the backing of the international community. Second, Iran is getting more and more isolated. Even Russia — Iran’s ally in the Syrian crisis — could not defend Iran’s aggressive policies. The Iranian representative at the United Nations looked powerless as he was overtaken by the events.
Contrary to what ordinary Iranians were hoping for, their leaders have dragged them one more time in a confrontation with the regional powers. It goes without saying that this time around, Riyadh has gained the upper hand in this most recent crisis. For sure, laymen in Iran will suffer as their leaders develop a sort of a pariah state that is shunned by the region and the international community.