As Cold War With Saudi Sharpens, Iran’s Guards Deliver Warning

JFIF;CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 80 C   %# , #&')*)-0-(0%()(C   ((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((( " }!1AQa"q2#BR$3br %&'()*456789:CDEFGHIJSTUVWXYZcdefghijstuvwxyz w!1AQaq"2B #3Rbr $4%&'()*56789:CDEFGHIJSTUVWXYZcdefghijstuvwxyz ? zoNTD !n1N&-ګ3VT`~4tHfPj؝Oʷ$>A"!CiѤU2Ǩq'?jpwT٠&-*[kh]lI0G-Aē&n?o F p;{]6UKP5Zٮ,J@ܸ愮X7S- {?lCH1\G4mVxF5$w`"i 0MSlmtv`kcṘtS޷N)v*,{.1Xm[֝q7l('dI>Dpgl0-;]niќטTᏞMd٪#׵Ϧee%ϯW4l-541=eV6\Y=i"EnІ`R+HyS>TdqA#B>ygB^AwA.ƵeQL$֐Ύ/)UX*9*X @(aO~&EAo%Vo|bD 5oOޯu<?Ts<"*;[V:}ĤHWZh:M" ѝw٭n1۰T{]^;ڽڡkk,uor?Z,>@#Ss2kEN+ai[i6/ ʾiϯ͚\"B0A{hB撌KFw^ۯtk41gu@\-=2,4˙c+cKǩKߋ;K;e=gaҰ/|s[h@j}+>DKH:8] W :H5=nvBRȷ]chLjn$"HUy:uSHcGkK9򦶴x/Q_^Q)UeQZ;圖cԓi!)jaLjm@Rq@%zf1Y6I6wpk̍z= \۟ҍC+ZoFG#5ҝI+; c 8@pic1 D]>WW'TLS'^ޣ_*3sJ9!4]"EE246 b]J:&$@Y؃Zzs|lvZEch٤#sLPHo-ieh]m̐)\ܢ1XZ#FɭIĊuF!s)\\-#j3acROfon5~ˁiJ5&af\ˁYӣFCojgԾ!`65GSʉj-'E ZFdWM5TYFOklLTY7` Ȕ1oɭmQ\-]fʹZ 1>zuyWOcVdgvg%52Z`Hnп0\M18۩-)ٹz˺!fljș YF#Ib WiiZomZ qvǰOJ3rZ}@Hq5thw!y^ ԮCq?k[K%qs,Ź!@AֺTu$MJ "洸  jLǖM& M1Su[ 574|Tņ׎?"Vi6Mxct&4{ 㫏\f+ &36j\}-qq fKcVv k xgOȗUVer+k<˙$\fc=RɦǑWVX\ơs\ȴOBĜ~Ӂsc:=C 3Z걿?%);cԓig`Oe\Ռ\WM'Zn|1AT&+AR^'|7{-L>Ō}?e!s#F8L? kVgʻ=uѶyj`T$f͏9vɰ"i|'/[N=fh&Lz@E&*yR? aN@E0€!aQc Di4Hɾ|5Aθ]WQ[14BZkp3zbmaź&dqSEhZ\TkHLdd23Xv|7j׋x,r&UmWVZ5_(K '+pN@mpȗJI/Z|Դ5֬هew& ʪ{SY9=ꭽ: ]%+qv~O\KM#$jꦛ|#(-s\uq6e7 IdB12kUt'?JsD+ ciT$~sȨֵP"y}*1qm8@l~ GjAmMc,d*cGZEV(K: U4T!̌9Rl>#GfG HY SZW_Hx6jQTnM*xjIlE8N:U Bj[>HǚqTQ[7sʠ@)ع^o B 2 O,c'tx,{iZC.OןZԀ ;V5Aw`1G]<d+d9x'Ԟ&o"7ۯ]_KϚN +|r[6tXd^} O^M1]G7c,C{LcC)8p OnoZq)U]᭵{k2bM7G*]'Bvw ASFAX~_EZ۱޻9.MՃAҷ Z7PHWdm-뎄(y(rH,z~i ~2W]>Ov̮?W:Evz?.hv>5'JGQ#d?A[jntڿcuI9>͏W>.4kq٦c!0?qگId\j "!qƹbj\$<#rMB͚F< &&M;4i=tX1<8SBW]).>n0+<-LTS]w0Um]rpKUY5A#M@F)@˞q[(7,OHȿ4F4" zsA8Dá 87uSZ@8aEpC#Њ3Fx恔n}:H+5ʟ.tjs744M|=FOqrWqȞX`P3cjGݙG#YJ{&/fB%NTOW:Z2S Hi5;xF8jD'َԖ53߉Ï9-:n$M;޵(@ƷGL#E뚡rMsJٴEa<8/BܤZܾzm 5jV̊[RI#* m̼}k{rӱ=ԋ#aj@kNdsUӠ~p4r6fI og3l.a4^O+Kr*$?0lzMԈkh7} [  nvF+MQTڞٷ Rqڒe]vI15fYTyKDqZ֚ V4Y~nmVҲq]/h)- T b׭u e(HshV% p9!cKBgXOƱ e8b k"}f ɛ v\R} cLjk(#01YfL#7Cj-fդc^ё>YA5K W>KD F8[Zbj{F>&>Ҟ=MWn)W;-nPsQO-A"zTa0xDm'XxU3)$;ҔmmFPj{I\` TQZ)5pЯ,a 1O5:鱀>ZtycpE*[b5_FxѸ'ޒO֖2&\"AC)SMSI-)8'#<{C*CH﫜Fs^~ C<EjekENH0 q} =xmj;؞XC8 ٺ-&Ui0Iso1bv/򝧕Ո'(?0•qI1 8S~\or{`qR@Xp8UY0NlYy_qsi4E}RGOWH?Jj^\&h)q^^p7X?4x+\E$)6wդy7TYu"IQ K$G4f4J3F3'^Gj8{jv1Ki5徕.gZăwoıFSAہ]1m*;N32iX'ʣBl'Ryhsм3 xYOB DIxNMoOsc>k5N;4ȟLw.A kc[a N-qn+H.1L5/#gtTtB?STW_+VUwʦֱh3b&D(_Cӎ7q_T44*JP3]Ek6*]sRDCc4 “Dٲi_AY9%m;vm@8v)]P= jtn&Ix@WQ8倭#KSO&rXP=J"%͚iy5B&_zq{ʫ3\];I@"9v,*q9Z`I4#JfPҔF[n ;=(1oʜ[J]?:]@a][oH=lc`֣2}Edjz|v(E/YwnG8Ao~(`Tc1MW !8aVWxgDlf'gSU+?YZҦ:[N<ȤxUIl嶝vaUȮ6NOc?r֚xuƍ#dC xөpc~g*  $,V :7aZ1Dm XyUDU~é WE)lx͚"F *;fA?v"6ڲzzjY鶫)4_T\˴,9 zӠ#$~uΰҗ uTtHn<[Kx~AUv8波E^K1FFUjᄦԗ^]JyWFKz% Vr@l+4Gd`75.4•PȆevL-I5wj)vr՞s[2:z/4ZMԄM>025KVԄj DsUeTj涆rʬQ<Ҝi@uFZX ̞*+c*ǠWG~Σ39bD`%)lpz+mUY,bwVMZ}S}j y D1^Z`sN&.[ 98%¨rzYr6ؗ>v?=nFL~E-V2Q*g!@>VE榱n(PZ#Ω+Muxpۭ\eEx.Ɯ/Rk {-W9 ~U"]/FVWi)n#"7yU}~צ#\?6zkqiL~FG+jպ^\Bܴr2c4JNKmFö"|r9gOb 5D6J7|-!L`zV3cuS<#,lJaYE,`{Vv5]x`A5.B*]E'}aEVT(Tbgj3}e8v1nXɐOZhaڶu&" E38i V i9hjJKkJ;r))cIӛղ7(})M>0;4nDU*#p*c+MFW)]QU˒ثAt'UȦH81Lq\n. aȬV&+qZEqLtF5~ַ@Vuw9zrNHZUbsZ+3|X1c{MXڽZWiHf5"[6jh/Xc5(ElT' T;g :Ӏn;SHVV n=) Sⓑ@5gܺ$K~y415<&3@Lqn;Fc`V-@Hʡ)0aHLUn]+!ɫ2jSH$"8sR[nOZ|Ti1~|SbOLkX ASS\7 3kT^2u)w9!xejH=WPj4N`QEw0Mv*7t֒ P1>M&kYIؤVJʐ}2)31=躀6 j#)XuW!*Ғ&E 3LJ5j&b 5-VP3G|$Յ&9EeB#kTڲsړvF GSPďu/~Qֲb A#bF{К *&GEOn/Q$X:׈?T49( -ڎe|[̔bs\oup\NOlOeu^U֦2Lߐ]#F%Ku^*ul3Ep[y<9iapsRTS`$)Q3EݍG eiO8#"9+*$Іh>r)ebi00|IGxKt j.iPtCs55h97ѥ֒U CכPFO]8\ )8@ s֍ѥ760j OZus3t9b+NMt\KH+c9&!EY$Uk}PJe ݖ{G9JgkKMdJ2օg@F%sJm:ZrMXE y9G Khں3fuFT= K`+3.Bd`vc'0cˏz[u2VyFvdo zTI$΀L-Y'D)]E"Ր_9MCRwx!Xos!ilK.~T|)rx?-,rߡ.e[\n&MGPY29($ 2V ӭW-SmȦ @ɡR |p)Ł\u zĆWƻ?{ f-Fixxˆ pHQ3Zl客@NêE)¶MtOj.P?twc"41䙳i{g #5<0?VtEof%܀F3,y;1T% 2EZ`qLHf;U`u.FpҳL) #V28cs֭.4^aץz_]_|V^=?Mޕ|,ֿ|]jd;`G0qWMٓ5ty;WacDhmObunzQHrozQLI0ÁiOZ/Zx׫KI_ w \{U1?4_˴YL X դA`ݐMiH"#ShךƤa'ٛ#W ߺp&}unxEY7.qn|QK-k.n2N}kKf=Hٿ]N!-t,K)ȖN?5۝GATo`pc02to^iΫthzס-.2S\\@=Vu3g}h,qLe5YQ7Fwi~< *'F;sˊIɹe~E)*H49ܹJ[!lM "AW>{d'˼$wE#z =8[VnIlfU Vf\ΉZʦ.:3v5%;SVm;),0&AܯNO W-12Ls;jXZڮ '!hkoer}%uNzU+$'23֣:MyGt@=k̬.m$ k<cmh܌n+B+^\ž kGNTud{~ SVѦ~W~di<&rh5n- 1LlDZ(GS-+5`RUdv0[?UmUW cOt"I|h }otS&I+9VR3Y4r6y惕OIOmĖ&[G( \Ӆ7RZ:w"&8ɤqNMU"bz9elj 3,SeX7w*zlZ k4%6QIYd1g\)v$TZ|4`V1KaQ7zN)y`XywE1K/`MBjGy:_7L POaO(jȌREGΥ U(v'n0= gOu R1[PN=9mMlnc܉qG|myOq X׶Rp~H@9F(=ajd}sW,8B!Ev X  rA@#5\H85s}4'*Ґ=*Zx'A: n>n*6fmxr+>¨Fe$aBߘ<~8bAS_Td` &&0WAZѽ̐07U]NS61SɆj JWd =jN9R&,FEy,ЇR Az)Z_T=EoF%u-!mq$+>^iZφw0Hǿ?xW.٠u`pk[&d՝)h"RQ@kv&_^7C_] OXNixyuQw۵ޥMe6P'թpO$V]#'TJ5xjdc\n>湪H=m;kv5 ؆0¼٤UUmGPX QH_D60UzU sҕЕOk&EtsulmEs7V8=e,%۫Iͭ֙8Vn+мbN /-vVJpօFktr+|7;"eV̶ѓWi3j=+#zv>a>c[FxҲبՊ؜rOVub TñpB)bPG̣*8qVW1dt_gt"%e g1( {+`5".٣aJEo8cxILtb*^#6Đs~'_ G"ۿw5cQľakiGO&ixfݾ\4ϵ[F+a'a*.I;S$[*Ff<)ؤ̞PIli`]S%넴q+\}U3y|֓}.MEHws)55F] V`p.g~_RAfmLVOK| ɎE־+R w|Kl/@IdS&b{SoBFb<-yvbb6TVB{QZwʌSv+w z֑2v4jTQ9Cy5-9 SZD6g-î iQ'hxEeAY2AE[Z1;Р- [n=*3c}ղ"L l=(0ڵ|jF ڮX B:_.yt_s6vO#Plm9i @1UﰬfV#$Uk)#[w&P>pr}1@ٕV޵sqZQ4ehR{Njp1m2KBMA% +e9:E?PuMk T y53غ{|S OQv A=2=c<ѕ9^Fnjˌ+nL˴Ȓ79dB1Q_Yw@y3$ps&dԃVĄr* Y$9)a֙LQ&IZ=ª|)ǵhTL1\FK]N&A;coxa]g !l|T]J!0axl/H {vIG}O5>3E%@I5FtM#k5YQ [>oFVv&H^k2=8yG$ܠet4Jg36CXeLݘt!ie"K4^1W`Z/5´:HA=R,%V$UZtR9ZB vG1 g!ߊj5Rp*21LY_AT`涮#"V57n3\ +F+'u}WN̿xUS&.eju ;o<7^&X`r}Q4zn-r1F]Cps_3RAiO`{ЫܗJÑPMa @ ψMIvpkլ6$µSْ%Щ>-N՘5Ir0wEfjȲC~|=6R5E#I恐5I֍ +Mu`8j}G-Pl-X~+7j4ǹٟ\7Š]Z#aXT,Y@(j.8 ejXWZe(is/bXZ,~ԈVf?zR:5hme'A ZZ vBr W9}g ]_F0?$G աrylexAD@QVo2z g˜,*ԖG"49 4l$ƪ1C%S&f&L|\)Dܺe kBc*z?ג0蚄founI"AȭFG%?_g6RzA5E%+S`T=)IY袊<#+\vtJrpjl0#'|6Ӯ"~)bXb+V]$8k:5!-ӊLc)񀠁V\יv9 n(U{ϳ# b^@*k2)/ypZUIXV..'\ϠVǭ- :5'- )r^R-YwAk.i mpR#MтzsQ~FzJAJ5nǞ$ 氤@޻Y{;\Zb@2NDm+(`}MYacTqիf  xOZV0mwXS@lr!r|SR_ =g2jvhe{dCs _?i0PצJY. !+l=Y_F&K&bV"\Y٦x͙n3&k~^:3_C}ECDxΤ#FC#z^kq@kZmDů( QNҀVD!)m(-TEA#*x7wHPQ{41V. -⥐a3nh1@ @phQ7m M+he)8hڧe0"1 qRi!4 eB* r Z&uHa6ԁ:xgNV6{_溴wO-G,噶#ykq8?4O?Bsqkd}GOtKќ@"{6yͳ3k<;Aiq &1"wS^n}fD +Zs`quUI F;v #ڜ⺷ ÒB *1.;i 6>cyu#+ДmQkY:W\ yZޒ~~7h2@I{׮|15kKYKaqipfFǸ85\@KN+IHQhO[F\6Rp+$K$ldЊWCcRF'x۱N2dekAdaڼ%$b%t*#x珼,֗]cTmP%k?%7 yly  i w׎05kuXDRNM)F;VnYq]ΊK9I#W rZYó<\USn*ңǒ}B~Kstb^z|ƞ :kI5c2qwF{%56LQ ϱ+3p3ֶN(!s;n$fEcҥS\u rs\ ך g+_ĺܷbC;5]"һ9q3FsO.[*}A!rHY4cӵovr.rcchIUg=*F6Eg{SMU#JO">/4!ɭ j3U4JG4VCM& Ii4n) .UA)9DIɭ9q.1ܞЙ`)!=1Fx⋐FùT  ֈiRqszPVCWeMVͬ ?zWi:՞oĖٗP9C\xQSrlzg6&խ5!MRBk1קxx/__·ԧ'opmlss=2 FZjǵB ;\2iv dʸ|ᔐSO+ի}"yTs$4O^4V@J1~>j:d7C/\v~ܬ^MJ+T&х=Xb"kc{D#H'Ztev TPf5H٨p3e=zӥvpG5{t5ԌF1\rA[j*TJrF+ŒZ4zfKn23T~harr0M_d{8`?:s~ܘF]EvWۢck!(9KS\9RP+_O2;r  ~*dr ijS5!"m;A -Y?)^7ڪr85ˢh[ yɁVxW)͑:}ip+J a,a︫Y@=i>'3T_VcK{JUk'Q8#Z$$lW8hԛ;h壗i3X:eU΍p鞵No'Pzrdc`,;C~T"nwҾ [D2$Q^QUՖ꺚p3hf)44iw("H. iN^q#Lh*ԺlLWC9Ȯ}Zbv#Qs鞔4;3?TmQhQ-֠ >c-uTu H{ IJDXbILYDy=acJ i1HrkKwd#v g*' *֎ֱ_6pU5(zUba'&[9/qRw|0Նs#b}\t?lA~unn¼#9#l/1 k]k>GLCn: 5-H5)#ޣ<3_+ ^P|ޕJĝUR3&Qą՛1mS' uHH6<͖Qq!?ڧtNVU#j=>ˤb_=+OtpN *Iʮ+":0)jY~aDPO9IW7#Fe:1=+:M.D<Ŭ=r1H@܁*+WB=F+.횺*829 sd&=" x|trڲ[kbj[c4/-z-?5&Ɔ<5膨ڙlU7xjQ%E&sZ$Dw6촄v&e촋`!XsgC,vvj.^SlmDw\i](9>6׈\el@cvĢAA?x5` +gjٜ.b0۫]u6v%gg d} ikJ`0[ⵔ >f^)4UҒ4M4isH) P4Ƨ@ @}i@cF)VE\QK(iO$"+>EFh}iSsQ(J gL,) 4PZiדldV准X{OwEPHMcHH VvJNnGZjWe^y(:⫴4y4!|SVjl9dJ>n4[[tڡtz?ҽ4-q xhJ:!cq+4)fCc@#"PTgLjf2yc40(8:ӍFHRT`41ъBPL)擃@ #Ԥa4.ix"nNր(=I!VHwaV(b[5!jmfp_'@^TfVq[">”ie 00 ʢǡc]d:@K;`sQ9p VscWp!ۑt+Te8ٝAW7_"-\ 3JyIqI&OZe1$͞Y5MXг4W+Ӹb8IQOC 5|RK7^ճ{[ ұu 0kHI3*qw/'ZD!%jRB M%$Z!kH<$j$ۗ"M*u* WȒ,*$4KS[E48wDgN0g'w\ԆPSf0dO|$ <3 7+F/𰪐8y<+R7._ 7HlˁRBe>E4O$t}!I~v ~[b+A W48V*QTNEA]예g^10)IFzđ27B*GYRy soc*GVXns_nFe S.&GN lY;<ۀ^: f*BT*R8@+|Q"v84 AL\@kS\/oJܣrXBӁVd-xm5_zѻ!}:5QmAcC1z˱u͡ao,၏z} aCsMOkw[308b䐓Lҵ ,#uRڨ$ 7 Ԓ\ȬeZ6iTj2g|>'b`HEg C pQ n9X1M H[4Sw kxH H:S-)HFќMONJgҁBqқiZcV )ڢzp#K(HNi4ڛS!zP`<Ғ( 搌ӎ3L9k 2)cҀ5O'tpYF5pM;6C"P0Z5"lHе"UZx☆m'=SiXEc!%6b騀5s<ӓW{~\#h?y$rU{zWֻ:K>X^jַgmh. ?s2NDT.fl͚^TK4JXSYr,0SFϧT&b>ZX恵OJ}#&mSTg}sKc-8Q*vĹZ:)9%\d57LFk:؄^+BtZVڝfsyXFO4!x[M]GN#&䩣Uݐϱ|5xAҧ9S$'6h#:mg8 }q^ǯZ-*24h>eO =Ei!RtgoZo,Y\5NfMlz։Gft_$ &]wG_c~,k,T5|2"PЯ Vs2`#ߨTҦɤ'=j֧g6\ܮ٠q* GZ˧qXWC+I:ʥҺ5fοÐкɬ)1flOCڄs4&Geu=jFiĩDjJ3 % woqH"H٧Hq@\aFF)1R6)uJ)3Ji# Ug4ӱJP@uR3kϧ_;^M2m: όMPV[j ׊+j\C/Iz ̙[q泀0$\Ě@\ADV\km>(o=KYKci9$ Z?4 Jl$z^X`{`b\p6j=eXq:! ,sk0X>N4[Ylsw=CEW'ֺCHڝ w"p֓cQHkUAVYc\Cs{ eK/4"t"ڀnǭaܳۚqmQGiP" lՓVHQV.5V5< mBE.Xd*ZQצd~B6k#'0љ鸊̏KJʇh(E dZp$"8O_+rZ1 1jʃڞ8^()-Mzyۜ◛0}jVv?1{VqvO ?hêF. Yi.@ k/H~5:Gb~=5=W)Us2j84҃LD%epi~jM-tS>SiJ9M!`wɩe+z' ҆ߔ5@ChK h]nRF' B=;ysx4HeV7w@O&!G\dq@ %a֘3)j4l{yP)?v*$\t,h2fg5)Uy&ǥLJrB=IT>*21ִ̬%9E1br<k>_zb4K$s+c# ?N$yz-V:itٲZDDcHά酭c%E#D;*!ȅIIsRԓhzUR@ҏ0}:vxNN矮*U[83V |$=꣨.+[` y6= 澁aT+ǾXKh'kr݁9%8YJӐn)A4,Ii͚g|*2A!h8f&2nKqO֛iCfKg+n8SYPtM%qMsLn-i(L37;9HP&)NLc@€;(!;'z (NdQ\Qi4M8lUg94$$U?I5+IUMi"OgHBr~|<.2GLS5&yu枻b~fU"ѓ{6 iԪj9;ٿd`&?AQ;fsΗơu [E@gWC3{f0+#fۖ@בdǭkM&d 6f]ECOJ;L$: 2K. `~Rrs\{o'Hs]WDv9g&cS6qMyJX cnϵ*ٰhNh)8ZIQHGb=)p=&RsO1IZk)HIaQ7Ol'@$4Ҵ)Lc׽j\4:h :`sN) Zx0 CViAnisHb7@ 4]LFh4@9 p摍!:3֔ SJ?[A=qT n?59.=v5&íiSY\`,JWsvX#GCQk)<-VRHTcUfjAOjih*I,:ڬN=+K3MWyIŠRWڛdF98''<{- Pɞ`hNPE|i\cC՜D7)PqU%ƥ/Rҳ44|ojMzS3$qR[m2zԋZn@cAI1POD /5Q{U}E{y5w"tkI; /Y["DL\U}NېaPޕ ?2>ҕs"6wZԎcҵn.z7qS[qyaLZL&Ce>J*L(Tc#G`>Ybs {VԦUbSIm4~&k簠T75^M\ KOnl5aܾҏZGݒzUr=id\#:QRP;RQKL#c勞M+8ryHTvBw->4 QDrr{RTdEih .;3@+.*2IS8I9n.܆@֑?JntMS]\E 22Qi^ϭYN$tasU5R; ʚ0sZrs8dIB0}:{ H#YXDZV;I)WEaple#fԏ|7Ú|%vr= 59G59&Lp59is89ݳ0piZ@(V&< ]hP1!Q !C0<*#8QT@C1-H8 #Q8 zPy TnRFH<{":[&4Jg' b#MVl1F䞝*M]HRA;{P4~qL-Afi y4N)t8ihriqZ8#D֎hIv96]ÿ -:fs0M|;M>hW㠯@e[r*@e:GE*-!Q ,އ%x.%Thv5 Yk^(fQهzR>z%*r!2k>wܼwmqЎ=Akdٙ$ԳTZŝ=jӳW$E֥Fڲҵ[nKz U1$XN2ꊶy)$!K()BɈ؎#LJ5\;<{JsC3G#DHc߹P/Dۙ{^RD7Qo\H7B2?2[| 7^xJA9XõvUCh PH;#@0dGytV<:ŬGmsFFSAيVRx8䢁޼Zo.TT 5}0Tr- "horSKc7|t$3Jak2,ϖ&ndg|Zw,vQcNi&fE8jRNX}h!$v+rnVg|; J[-OW*$'*YgAEMid$) 9Lofhҙ'bi>J9W\\uEq2c_ qS ꉋg3dĪS1*sE'lA)`xNQjC)RKu'p Ê`TeRH(FH9pzFp4 QA&_wZz=(2µ x5v;3@P:Ӥ*Ii yue9*pح&2W`͟4@zsL@jB:R, '8 u*R9PXw1W 搚;<ɴtcN) '' CJmW4mFݡ%#jxB}$l9;{NheAM\ae85* xTcK{θ#ya=sE2p¥W ءMg41H@:/$i(NY>Z9 : UUJ;ˑUsqXAXS8V={} fM}ǖQULYKB~Ect{K۱ܓ<ؑzO쑏qX\;~eݴ ʯE!=tF(h4bsTXrzVp0j{ft`h<W~>JآxQe*pA2).Q2AN2u6NF0=<ԓ5'gƠ_^5>┦bw1Pp-23]uƜ&b2 s%6rh^a-68uP_.~]D̲ñTF0ulrr&$U)5 {T&wDAW["@S\Z9ݢY(Pz}+N2i2>:(5vȬ1 UkRX (<CevA$%F2*ɵHĿ3G˞҄);N"8zڳ\'3r}I+H2 >էe0O<{qW!jP:QZL =(0MN^y|=VEŴծ#zVk]6فiA6 "WF_;Z^Di) MeSQ`8u;8'kv H&,FqN *'P <SұɦR ڐQ=c-@ ѻ%Pzhq'oZ PxM5QqQ&aM QҜ:R6(֝)twA ae^~Vfi1üQ+ ɴdO2;dON4Mȯ 2"eiFu'ΦƊ]0,# CYc;rpcSș|4,fGAoz/JO⻓P@02{ei#g+O~%l1ypI /=\T5붚- |CWh%4ςZ셣G1.`c ?}1RV«i]ܒX+VVR;ּd89-{a|Xex?򬦵:?u+ 隼 + I@_2 ԰h jz5QcW|8'6Nb6XbsڤK>QڍmA'Wj'ECYހ 4-948ڵge NJ$:*.pPU9K)-PW nQVYAW"|Kzuh؟5vnN98ɩ.I?2mGAN'cc^( 55b2ȦHV@Hd1m۳^o5֑ p $ƒ 5R۴.T#JXJh¤\R)iUܓ33(-xQU9N%CҦù~՛U++JF;~ۙxݗ,I)X)Vևdd8"`G'0}=ꢮɓ!-,4I]׊u4gXD4lqԶё{~+F[wS 8Hvs+'KC|uܘʙ8BNy.3$lVqh]ؐc5s'UA沚- ܎xE1?sJr}jWCYX3]n%H8izj\N{V Xu^$~!ucHJ̏o/Ngv=)3^]uX͌Cg84ژi1^ =<*27)fAR1?A@ 6Gǵ?I!D4D,FE00hY< 5 H dUKrFkJDF2/IUNHS(q8w (1+u4) 884 h I7Tl0E4)sAn3J"Er2x4G4ҀrjL7Jx=Av"rzEM j(k5yO^b,K!GZ( cpQpkET v$0dsQxKeeI.JTd=h[Ȃդf,yU={Iv.>袊2t'*r=h6[F8jqw$G(e6kn,DOV¼odmSt/#Jh#IjQ0N @ #EJ(ϙܯ& *ƣ#&УFh"9ЪM1˹Z 4QRic˕qX7Rh;ވҊ*+V Wq2drzVmζɔ9ENMl(ɮr]V6a" QE4 EpF:wKm#(zh\sț&+˭t884QYp0hlQE P Warning: fopen(https://newsweekme.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/2016-01-04T135046Z_37141585_GF10000282201_RTRMADP_3_SAUDI-IRAN-780x439.jpg): failed to open stream: HTTP wrapper does not support writeable connections in /home/newsweekme/public_html/wp-includes/class-wp-image-editor.php on line 428

Analysts fear that harsh anti-Saudi rhetoric from Iran, on the execution of Shiite cleric Nimr Al Nimr, may spur some of the militias to act on their own. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

By Babak Dehghanpisheh and Bozorgmehr Sharafedin

BEIRUT/DUBAI, Jan 6 – Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was quick to condemn the execution of Saudi cleric Sheikh Nimr Al Nimr, stating: “Without a doubt, the hated Saudi regime will pay a price for this shameful act.”

For an organization deeply involved in wars in Syria and Iraq this looks no idle threat, at least in the eyes of Sunni Gulf Arab states like Saudi Arabia who say Shiite rival Tehran is bent on undermining their security.

The Guard’s furious comment is not a call for direct conflict with Riyadh, something neither country wants. But it is a reminder to Gulf Arabs that the IRGC, with connections in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the region, has many ways to wage the long cold war between Tehran and its Arab foes.

Tehran denies interfering in Arab lands. But the Quds Force, the arm of the Guards that operates abroad, has contributed fighters, weapons and military supplies to back Iran’s interests and policies across the region.

That prospect is worrying for a region where conflicts or political crises from Lebanon and Syria to Yemen, Iraq and Bahrain involve proxies of both powers who are at daggers drawn.

A day after the IRGC issued its statement, which described Saudi rulers as “terrorist fostering, hated and anti-Islam”, Riyadh broke off diplomatic relations with Tehran, escalating a contest for power that underpins the region’s turmoil.

There is no firm indication that Iran’s factionalized leadership has agreed how far it should go to avenge the death of Nimr—who was one of 47 people executed by Saudi Arabia on Saturday —and what methods should be used. But whatever steps are authorized, the Guards are likely to be involved, although as orchestrators more than direct participants, experts say.

“The Guard will not respond directly,” said Hilal Khashan, a professor of political science at the American University of Beirut.

RIVALRY

“They have their operatives, their people, their connections everywhere in the region who will answer what the Saudis did and actually escalate. Iran is in a very strong position to respond in the Saudi Arabian eastern province. And they can do a lot in Bahrain.”

Moderate voices on both sides do not have an interest in seeing the situation escalate into a full conflict, experts say.

And yet the rivals often compete indirectly through allies, which lends the contest an element of unpredictability: Some Iranian proxies may be encouraged by the tough rhetoric coming from Tehran to carry out attacks not sanctioned by the Guard.

“Both sides are loath to see tensions spiral out of control. They are more likely than not to prevent this cold conflict from deteriorating into a hot one, while stepping up their proxy wars across the region,” said Ali Vaez, the senior Iran analyst at the International Crisis Group.

“But with tensions reaching new heights, now more than ever, they run the risk of unintended direct confrontation.”

The Quds Force has gained valuable military experience in recent years and now plays a dominant role within the IRGC, experts say. In some cases, Guard fighters and their Shiite proxies have fought against Sunni groups directly supported by Saudi Arabia in Syria and Iraq.

The IRGC has also established intelligence networks among the Shiite populations in the Gulf states. It has the potential to undermine Saudi Arabia and its allies’ interests using sympathetic Shiites to stir political unrest or engage in violent attacks, experts say.

Saudi Arabia has a sizable Shiite community in the east of the country, while the majority of Bahrain’s citizens are Shi’ites who live under a Sunni monarchy. A failed uprising which began in Bahrain in 2011 was largely focused on gaining more democratic rights for the country’s Shiites.

In the Guards’ statement, they warned that the youth and Muslims of Saudi Arabia would take “tough revenge” which would lead to the fall of the Saudi government. The Iranians could also revive the resentment that drove the Bahrain uprising.

RED LINE

“I think the Iranians think they can actually have a victory in Bahrain which would be a red line for the Saudis,” said a Western diplomat in Beirut who asked not to be identified.

“A key part of the Iranian narrative is that Bahrain is a majority Shi’ite nation that is being oppressed and not allowed democracy.”

The bulk of Iran’s tough rhetoric has come from hardline groups like the Guards, some of whom have also criticized the nuclear deal agreed with world powers last year aimed at lifting most sanctions against the country.

More diplomatic isolation is not good news for pragmatic Iranian President Hassan Rouhani who, with the blessing of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, pushed for the deal in order to expand Iran’s ties with the international community.

Rouhani managed to normalize ties with the West somewhat through the deal and started the new year with an optimistic tweet hoping that in 2016 countries can “look for reasons to make peace, not excuses for hostility”.

But now facing the biggest diplomatic crisis of his government, Rouhani might not be able to persuade the Guards to dial down their paramilitary activism in favor of diplomacy.

That could lead the Guards to push their allies within Saudi Arabia to carry out violent attacks.

“Should the IRGC desire to use terrorism on Saudi soil to retaliate against the House of Saud, the IRGC is likely to find it easier to find recruits among the Shia in Saudi Arabia,” said Ali Alfoneh, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and an expert on the Revolutionary Guards.

It is unlikely the Guards would do much to hit Saudi interests in Syria or Iraq. But harsh anti-Saudi rhetoric from Iran may spur some of the militias trained and armed by Tehran to act on their own, experts say.

ANGRY MILITIAMEN

“Iran has created a Frankenstein with the Shiite militias in Iraq,” said the Western diplomat in Beirut.

“When you keep emphasizing this notion of Saudi Arabia and its proxies oppressing Shia—and you’ve got these angry militiamen — at some point they’re going to be out of Iran’s control. There’s always the risk of that kind of escalation.”

For their part, the Saudis could boost their financial and military support to Sunni militant groups in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to counter the Iranian threat, experts say.

Still, it would be difficult for the Saudis to prevail in a political and diplomatic showdown with Iran, experts say.

“The fact that the Saudis have decided to sever their diplomatic relations with Iran means that they are, in their own minds, ready for an all-out confrontation with Iran,” Khashan said. “There is nothing the Saudis can do to destabilize Iran whereas the Iranians on the other hand have every means conceivable to destabilize Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, namely Bahrain.”

 

Social Streams

Comments

comments

Facebook Comments

Post a comment