In what has become a rapidly escalating situation in the proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia just raised the stakes significantly. Based on open source reporting, it is clear that Saudi Arabia bombed Yemen and hit the area directly adjacent to the Iranian Embassy. Although the Iranian Embassy wasn’t directly hit, many believe it was a target. Either way, whether or not Saudi Arabia intended to hit the Iranian Embassy, the message is crystal clear in Tehran at this hour.
Saudi Arabia made a major strategic miscalculation today with its near miss of the Iranian Embassy. Iran’s leader had already announced it was going to prosecute the people that burned the Saudi Embassy, which was as close to an official apology as Saudi Arabia was going to receive from Iran. However, rather than recognizing the olive branch from Tehran for what it was and building on the positive dialogue, Saudi Arabia took the olive branch and slapped Iran in the face by dropping bombs beside the Iranian Embassy in Yemen. Even though American news outlets seemed to have missed this; intelligence outlets such as Stratfor immediately picked up the bombing as a clear escalation of the situation. In the Middle East however, this is big news. The insult to Iran cannot go unpunished. The only question is how Iran will respond.
If Saudi Arabia is trying to provoke a war, they are doing a good job. Iran will now have to respond in kind and there is a high likelihood someone will get hurt. The most likely candidate for a reprisal will be the Saudi Embassy in Iraq, which is already being heavily pressured by Shia militias. If not Iraq, then the Saudi Embassy in Lebanon is the next top candidate to get attacked. In Iraq, the embassy is very vulnerable to rocket and mortar attacks. However, in both areas, car bombs could target diplomatic motorcades or the embassy perimeters. I can’t say which, if any, of the options will be approved, but you can guarantee Iran will retaliate. When they do, Saudis are likely to die or be injured. This can only lead to greater escalation and one step closer to a full blown war between the two regional powers.
By Guiles Hendrik
January 6, 2016