Why Iran is spreading and Saudi Arabia is shrinking

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We must commend Iran’s ability in keeping the world busy, fabricating battles in Lebanon, Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Eretria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, South Eastern Asian and Central African countries while supporting its groups even in the West.

Iran seems like a superpower that inserts its hand in every corner of the world. The obvious question is: How does Iran possess all these funds and capabilities? And why don’t we see a spread similar to Iran and its effectiveness by richer countries, like Saudi Arabia?

Iran definitely has the desire and enthusiasm to spend and squander its money on setting up fires across the globe, and it is good at practicing this type of activity. It must be better than Saudi Arabia in the value of every dollar it spends to achieve this aim.

As Iran has become financially broke due to sanctions and military spending, Saudi Arabia has around 700 billion dollars of reserves at banks. At a time when Iran wastes its funds on its armed groups in Iraq, Hezbollah brigades in Lebanon and others, Saudi spends huge sums of money on around 150,000 students studying at western universities!

On the industrial level, Saudi Arabia owns a wide industry base built on its petroleum products while the Iranian government spends its funds on developing and manufacturing arms.
Celebrating achievements

Two weeks ago, Tehran said it sent a monkey to space as part of its progressive scientific experiments, and the story transformed into a joke. No one has believed it yet. The day before last, it announced that it had built a Stealth aircraft (called the ghost in Arabic) that represents the utmost degree of scientific progress in military aviation as radars cannot detect it while flying.

Tehran has previously celebrated building and inaugurating naval submarines that compete with similar American ones. For years, Iran has announced developing a system of missiles. Critics, on the other hand, have insisted that these missiles were only similar to Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s missiles – Russian ones with Arabic or Islamic names and are amended by decreasing their load of explosive material so they cross longer distances.

What does Iran aim to say by its massive military spending and promotional ads of its scientific achievements? Perhaps it aims to say that it will win the next war? Or that it has become a superpower that deserves a seat at the U.N. Security Council? Or that it is a country capable of challenging an international boycott? Or is it merely local publicity to soothe the Iranian citizen who pays for militarization and foreign adventures in order to pacify the ego of President Ahmedinejad, the revolutionary guards and the supreme leader.

Inflation has eaten up the savings of citizens who now live on government aid to buy bread and fuel. It is a similar promotion to what North Korea feeds its hungry people as it speaks of international conspiracies and military accomplishments. At the time of Mao Tse-tung, China also distracted the Chinese people with this talk.

It seems that Iran chooses the dates of announcing its achievements before international meetings that address Iranian affairs such as the nuclear program and the economic sanctions.

Even those who say that military findings regarding deals of Western weapons are gut-wrenching, it is in fact, on the level of spending, less than what Iran puts on military projects and foreign adventures doomed to fail.
At last, if it weren’t for Iran and its aggressive policy, the Americans may have not had an excuse to fill the Gulf with battleships and the land with military bases. Iran is the justification for defensive weapons’ deals and the tension dominating our region since 1980.

This article first appeared in Asharq al-Awsat on Feb. 5, 2013.

(Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today)

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