Iran is in the midst of an ongoing struggle with its civilian population. On September 16, Iranian morality police arrested 22-year-old Jina “Mahasa” Amini for allegedly violating Iran’s strict dress rules for women. The Kurdish woman fell into a coma and died in their custody. As protests erupted across the country, the government killed over 200 people and arrested more than 1,000 who called for women’s rights and the downfall of the Islamic regime.
As the protests spread, officials in Iran blamed their adversaries and said they incited unrest. On Tuesday, October 1, the Wall Street Journal reported Saudi Arabia relayed intelligence to the US, warning of an imminent attack on them and other regions of the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia Warns of Imminent Attack By Iran
In light of the intelligence-sharing data, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and several other countries in the Middle East put their militaries on a heightened alert. The Saudis said the regime was preparing to attack their country as well as Erbil, Iraq, which is where US military personnel are stationed. In September, Iran launched dozens of ballistic missiles and armed drones toward Erbil in the country’s northern area. A US military fighter plane shot down one of them.
Saudi officials say the provocations are a response to the domestic protests and that the Mullahs want a distraction from them.
Iran claims the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel are instigating protestors. In October, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander warned the kingdom to get control over the coverage it allowed of the demonstrations. Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami issued what he said was a last warning to the Saudis for allegedly inserting itself into internal problems, warning the nation knows it’s vulnerable. On October 29, Salami warned Iranians not to take to the streets and stated it was the last day of the riots.
Will Diplomatic Strains Break Military Alliance?
During the 2020 presidential election, then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said he would make Saudi Arabia a “pariah.” Ties between the countries remain strained after he assumed the presidency in January 2021, and Riyadh has refused to increase oil production. In October, OPEC+ agreed to cut output by 2 million barrels of oil per day. The impact is likely to cause gas prices in the US to rise ahead of the 2022 midterm elections and help exacerbate inflation.
Recently, the White House indicated Biden is desirous of reevaluating the US relationship with Saudi Arabia and assessing if it’s serving US national security. Still, many believe the US is unlikely to forsake the kingdom and put our counterterrorism efforts at risk.