“Saudi threats to Iran have been going on particularly since Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman took office,” Federico Pieraccini said in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency.
“I certainly believe that Saudi Arabia was behind this attack; maybe the Royal Prince believes that Iran must pay the price for sustaining Assad and helping the Syrian Arab Army win their war against extremists,” he noted.
Pieraccini is an independent freelance writer and political expert based in Milan, Italy. He specializes in international affairs, conflicts, politics, and strategies. He has covered conflicts in Ukraine, Libya, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq.
The following is the full text of the interview:
Tasnim: As you know, on June 7, five terrorists launched simultaneous attacks on Iran’s parliament building in downtown Tehran and on the mausoleum of Imam Khomeini, south of the city. The attacks that killed 17 Iranians and wounded dozens more were claimed by Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) terrorist group. What do you think about these attacks and what is the reason behind such terror acts in Iran?
Pieraccini: These attacks should be viewed as a continuous effort on part of Riyadh to antagonize Tehran in every possible way. Daesh is a terrorist group controlled directly or indirectly by Saudi Arabia through financing a logistics. In Syria, this collusion became even more evident as Riyadh made every possible effort to destroy Syria, one of Iran’s primary allies in the region. Even referring to the problems undergoing in the PGCC Council, the dispute between Qatar and Saudi Arabia is being exacerbated because of Doha’s relationship with Tehran. Terrorism has always been a resource to whom the Saudi royal family looks to reach certain geopolitical gains. The duplicity of their actions reaches the highest level: Saudi dictators are able to open an anti-terrorism center and at the same time finance terrorists in Syria.
This is only made possible thanks to their European and American partners that prefer selling weapons to the Saudis than combatting extremist terrorism and facing Saudi Arabia for what it is: a state sponsor of terrorism.
Tasnim: Saudi officials have repeatedly threatened Iran with military action. Recently, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman said, "We will work to have the battle in Iran rather than in Saudi Arabia." Do you believe that Riyadh was behind the attacks?
Pieraccini: I certainly believe that Saudi Arabia was behind this attack. Maybe the Royal Prince believes that Iran must pay the price for sustaining Assad and helping the Syrian Arab Army win their war against extremists. Saudi threats to Iran have been going on particularly since Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman took office. The Deputy Crown Prince has a very aggressive stance toward Tehran and this can be easily seen in Yemen where the Saudis have been bogged down in perpetual conflict, with no ending in sight. Bin Salman has taken this situation very personally due to the high toll that Saudi Arabia and allies are paying in Yemen.
Riyadh has been accusing Iran in sustaining the Houthis (without a note of evidence) and has blamed the Iranian republic for the unsatisfactory military campaign. In this sense, one should consider the words expressed by Bin Salman “We Will work to have the battle in Iran rather than in Saudi Arabia” as a real threat. The problem, for Saudi Arabia, is in what ways can pressure Iran and as we have seen, they can only rely on terrorism (a specialty for Riyadh). For these reasons, one should obviously look at Saudi Arabia as the indirect perpetrator of the terrorist attacks in Tehran.
Tasnim: It is no secret that the Daesh terrorist group, which claims to be Islamic but whose actions are anything but, has been created and massively supported by certain Western countries, particularly the US. How do you see Washington’s role in Tehran terror attacks?
Pieraccini: Terrorism has always been a way of pressuring populations around the world. Before the fall of Berlin wall, political terrorism like the red brigades, Baader-Meinhof-Gruppe, Ordine Nuovo and many others were used by rogue secret service agencies for various purposes, all related to the struggle between USSR and the United States. Investigators during the last thirty years reconstructed high-level covers used by terrorists and without any surprise, many have colluded with Atlantic powers such as NATO and Gladio. Today these operatives are coming from Daesh or al-Nusra Front but are still being manipulated and led to commit horrendous acts, thanks to complicit various secret service agencies, each one aiming to achieve different geopolitical objectives.
In Syria, Libya and even in Yemen, many Israeli, US, British, French and Saudi agencies have assisted al-Qaeda or Daesh in war tactics and logistics. It takes me by no surprise that other than Saudi Arabia, also Israel and the US probably played a role in directing Daesh against Iran last week. The US, since Trump’s election, has been focused on Iran more than ever, denouncing it as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Ironically Washington’s closest ally in the Middle East is the father of terrorism (not Islamic, that has nothing to do with Wahhabi ideology – the real ideology behind Daesh and al-Nusra) having bred and helped create the mujahidin movement in Afghanistan, later transforming itself into al-Qaeda.
Tasnim: Generally, what objectives is the US government trying to achieve in the Middle East region?
Pieraccini: The US has many objectives. We can start by saying that the primary issue is maintaining the price of oil in Saudi Arabia focused on the dollar. The Fed has unlimited ability to print money to finance further economic power of the private and public sector as well as to pay the bill due for very costly wars. The US dollar plays a central role as the global reserve currency as well as being used as currency for trade in oil. This virtually obliges each central bank to own reserves in US currency, continuing to perpetuate the importance of Washington in the global economic system. This is the key factor in all the issues relating to the Middle East. In second place, one can naturally look at weapons sales and more in general contracts like the one signed in Riyadh by the Saudi family and Donald Trump. This looks more like an extortion rather than a payment for some sort of trade deal. Saudi Arabia pays for protection and this has been regularly confirmed each time a huge agreement is made between Washington and Riyadh.
On the other hand, there is a broader project that involves the creation of an Arab NATO. This would absolve two major problems: first, giving keys of the Middle East to Saudi Arabia and to a certain extent to Israel. The common enemy for US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia is Iran and it is developing as the main regional powerhouse. An Arab NATO would mirror efforts in Europe by NATO, avoiding the rise of hegemon nations such as Russia. In the Middle East, both Israel and Saudi Arabia would have full control over the situation, granting to the US plenty of weapon sales and continuing pricing of oil in dollars and not in Yuan.
Last but not least, the US policy-makers are very excited by the idea of disengaging from the Middle East to focus on the future struggle for world hegemony: limiting the rise of China in Asia. An Arab NATO seems to be the perfect achievement for Tel Aviv, Riyadh, and Washington, each one pursuing their core interest while aligning with each other. Naturally, such an alliance will only push many other neutral states closer to Iran as can be seen in the Qatar-Saudi row. One of the key issues separating Doha from Riyadh seems to be the creation of an Arab NATO to confront Iran. As we can see, fallouts are already happening today and will only intensify more thanks to the US and its partner’s efforts to damage the Islamic Republic of Iran.